Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chloe's Grilled Tomato and Cheese Sandwich

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As I mentioned previously, The Kitchen Reader chose The Sugar Queen as the book selection for July. A few reviews already have mentioned the Grilled Tomato and Cheese sandwich described several times in the book, and I was inspired to create it.

Using the description in the book, here is my take on Chloe's Grilled Tomato and Cheese Sandwich that the main character Josey enjoys so much. Ready for the recipe?

The Kitchen Reader Book Club: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen was chosen by Karen of Shortbread for the August edition of The Kitchen Reader food-related book club. I have been challenging myself to find the time to read as of late, so discovering The Kitchen Reader book club was a bit of good luck.

Since I have been going through my fair share of deep stuff in my life, I was relieved to find that The Sugar Queen was a fun, light read. It is not a book about merely food, it is a book about how a woman who is leading an unfulfilled life comforts herself with an abundance of sweets. Josey is deeply ashamed by her relationship with food, even when it involves eating a simple sandwich, or eating in public.
"Josey stared at the bag. Eating that sandwich would make her feel better. And it would make her feel worse. It was a familiar dilemma. She'd never experienced anything that was simply and entirely good for her. She wondered if such a thing even existed." P.58
While food is a theme in the novel, the focus is more about the main character Josey and how she relates to food. As soon as she is feeling nervous, sad, or discontent, she runs to her hidden stash of candy in her closet and numbs her feelings by binging on sugar. Not only that, but every day pleasures are related back to her relationship with food.
"[Josey] stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm."  P.2
One day, Josey finds Della Lee, a deeply troubled woman, hiding in her closet. In the days that follow, and Della Lee refuses to leave her closet, Josey is forced to confront all of the feelings she has been trying to deny for the majority of her life. Will she ever find requited love? Will she ever have a family that loves her for who she is? Will she be brave enough to leave her wealthy mother and venture forth on her own? The mysterious woman in her closet prods her along, turning her life upside down.

Besides Josey, we are given the viewpoint of two other women in the novel. Josey's mother, Margaret, who seems solely hell bent on crushing Josey's self esteem so her daughter will never have the gumption to leave her, and Chloe, a sandwich shop owner who besides having a magical relationship with books, is also dealing with the shocking knowledge that her boyfriend has been unfaithful. What unfolds in the novel is the revelation of all of the secrets. Why is Josey's mother so mean? Why did Chloe's boyfriend cheat on her? Will any of the women in this novel be able to face reality and share the secrets they have been hiding for so long?

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It had a supernatural streak to it that I found fun and mysterious. I could relate to all of the characters in one way or another, and although I found the ending to be a little bit rushed, I would recommend The Sugar Queen to anyone who is a fan of quirky, light novels.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ali's Notepad - July 29th, 2011

Woo it's Friday! Time for me to feature YOUR awesome posts. If you would like to view my Pinterest board with pictures & links to of all of these projects, click here.

Images are property of their respective websites.
Starting from the top left and going clockwise:
  1. Monster Party Cake (@ Ohdeedoh)
  2. Interchangeable Cupcake Stands (@ giverslog)
  3. Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes (@ Kevin & Amanda)
  4. Blueberry Zucchini Bread (@ shutterbean)
  5. Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake (@ In Katrina's Kitchen)
  6. Bang Bang Shrimp (@ Stephanie Cooks)
  7. Strawberry Jalapeno Jam (@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage)
  8. Gingerbread Sugar Scrub (@ Our Forever House)
If you were featured here today and would like to grab a featured button, it is in the right hand sidebar. Linking up to Friday Favorite Finds.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Amish Meatloaf




I have two favorite meatloaf recipes, both of which incorporate a sweet component that is just fantastic. I can't rave enough about this recipe for Amish Meatloaf. It is addicting. Did you know meatloaf could be addicting? It is!

The difference between the two recipes lies in where the sweet component is. In this recipe, the brown sugar is mixed into the meat, with a basic ketchup glaze on top. My other favorite meatloaf recipe has a pineapple preserve glaze on top, so the sweet factor is primarily on top. I love them both, but if I had to choose just one favorite, it would be the Amish Meatloaf.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spicy Sriracha Burgers

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Right off the bat I need to tell you two things. First is that I've made these spicy sriracha burgers twice in the last month. They are outstanding! Second is that my pictures sorta stink, but you have to take my word that these are absolutely delicious.

The recipe comes from Aunt Nubby's Kitchen. If you haven't visited her website before, be sure to check it out. I have already bookmarked her recipes for Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Ranch Chicken, and Margarita Pie.

Back to the burgers. Spicy burgers topped with sauteed onions, cheese and sliced tomato. It is awesome. Ready for the recipe?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

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All righty. So, cream puffs. Believe it or not, very easy to make. Just like Bavarian doughnuts, there are two typical types of filling. A thicker pastry cream or a lighter whipped filling. For these I went with a vanilla bean pastry cream. Do not imagine vanilla pudding, this pastry cream is from scratch and so tasty. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

Ready for the recipe?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peach Sunshine Juice

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Sunshine in a glass is what came to mind when I tried this tasty Peach Sunshine Juice. I've made a bunch of different juices since I got my cheapie juicer a few weeks ago, and this might be my favorite one yet. Ready for the recipe?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Squares

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Cheesecake Squares are a great recipe for when you don't have tons of time to make a proper cheesecake, or if you only have one block of cream cheese in the fridge and can't make it to the store to buy any more.

Cheesecake purists can omit the jam from the recipe with no other changes. I enjoyed the jam in these squares, but next time around I'm going to go the purist route. Ready for the recipe?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps




Talk about taking my time. I made these Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps several years ago during the football season and I'm just now posting them. Sheesh!

These are a simple and delicious appetizer. Perhaps a bit less chili powder and I'd be more of a fan. Either way, they'd be a tasty addition to your next party or family get together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chocolate Fry Sauce (AKA Chocolate Ketchup)



Unless you live in Hershey, PA, you probably haven't heard of Chocolate Ketchup, or as I call it, Chocolate Fry Sauce. Believe it or not, this concoction is actually a condiment that is served at the Hershey Lodge at Lebbie Lebkicher's restaurant.

I came across this oddity while browsing the archives of A'lil Country Sugar, who wrote that this ketchup is served at most restaurants in PA. I am a sucker for odd food combinations, especially when they don't require a bunch of hard to find ingredients. I like to keep it simple, the fewer ingredients the better. The only special note is that it must be Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Syrup, the regular stuff won't be as tasty.

According to the The Hershey PA Cookbook, they use a ration of 4:1 for ketchup to chocolate, but the recipe I used a 1:1 ratio that I really enjoyed. It is a a hard flavor combination to describe, but I really enjoyed a twist on the same ol' boring ketchup. Ready for the recipe?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Barbecue Chicken Salad Sandwiches



This delicious Barbecue Chicken Salad Sandwich tastes like Summer. It also tastes like juicy tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and a chicken salad mixture that has been dressed up with barbecue sauce and tossed with spring greens and sliced green onions. Overall though, it tastes like Summer, which is to say, it tastes fresh and delicious!

I came across the original recipe from Trisha at My Hobbie Lobbie while participating in a fun little foodie event, the Secret Recipe Club, hosted by the great Amanda's Cookin'. The idea of it is you are assigned a fellow food blogger each month, it is kept a secret of course, and you go to their food blog and pick a recipe (or more) to make. On the assigned date, everyone posts their creations and you go and visit and see all the goodies that were made. Sort of like a secret Santa, right?

My secret blogger is Trisha at My Hobbie Lobbie , who lives in India. Isn't it cool that we bloggers can live so far apart yet be connected via the recipes we share with each other? I think that is the coolest! Trisha had a great selection of recipes for me to choose from. I considered Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Cheese Pound Cake. In the end I decided to go the savory route when I saw her recipe for Chicken Mayo Sandwiches.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ali's Notepad - July 16th, 2011

Woo it's Saturday! Time for me to feature your awesome posts. If you would like to view my Pinterest board with pictures & links to of all of these projects, click here.

Images are property of their respective websites.

Starting from the top left and going clockwise:

BBQ Chicken Salad with Homemade BBQ Sauce (@ Life as a Lofthouse)

Grapefruit Sunrise Juice (@ Healthy Happy Life)

Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese Wontons (@ Life's Ambrosia)

15 Food Photography Tips (@ Healthy Happy Life)

DIY Treat Stands (@ The Crafting Chicks)

Green Pina Colada Smoothie (@ The Fitnessista)

Bananas in Red Stuff (@ Southern Plate)

Brownie Cookies (@ K&K Test Kitchen)

If you were featured here today and would like to grab a featured button, it is in the right hand sidebar. Linking up to Friday Favorite Finds.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Vintage Kitchen Special - Vegetable Pizza




The super funny girls over at My Vintage Kitchen posted a while back that they were changing web hosts and they weren't taking their old recipes with them. I got their permission to post a few of their recipes with a link to their new site, My Vintage Kitchen (now at blogger).

I made this delicious Vegetable Pizza for a pizza birthday party a few years back. I wanted a vegetarian option as well as something chilled, since we were having a September heat wave. You could cut these into squares if you'd like, but I sliced them into very thin pizza slices. Super tasty.  This recipe wraps up Eat Your Fruit and Vegetables Week. I hope you enjoyed it and found a few recipes to enjoy the fresh produce of Summer. Ready for the recipe?
 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moist Ginger Pumpkin Bread




Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables Week marches on! Today we are moving on to baked goods with this Moist Ginger Pumpkin Bread. Spicy and sweet. Moist and delicious. It is hard to beat that. Ready for the recipe?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Green Monster Smoothie




Today I wanted to share one bad mutha of a smoothie recipe. Sometimes called "The Green Monster" because of the bright green color, this smoothie is chock full of nutrients. Sure, the color is a little scary, but I personally could not taste the spinach in this, which was great. Ready for the recipe?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Favorite Veggie Sandwich



Day 2 of Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables Week is here. Dun dun dunnn. I haven't mastered the layering technique for this sandwich quite yet. Apparently it is more important for it to look pretty than to ensure that it doesn't fall apart in your hands. C'est la vie.


This sandwich is sometimes called a 'California' or something to that effect. You can always add a little turkey or roast beef if you are in the mood for it. I like the taste of the veggies by themselves so I don't add any meats.

PS - The day I made this, I ate it for breakfast. I make no apologies. Ready for the recipe?




Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry, Orange & Cucumber Juice



Welcome to Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables Week!

I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling the urge to clean, throw out, and start with a clean slate. My entire life seems out of whack lately, nutrition being part of that.

After rounding up a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables, I decided to create a juice recipe that had strawberry, orange and cucumber. The carrots, grapes and spring salad mix were also looking good, so I added those in as well. I juiced it on up and hoped for the best.

The result was incredible. This is a seriously delicious juice. My kids were giving me the puppy dog eyes, wanting to try it, so I poured them a drink and waited to see their reaction.

The toddler made a funny little face like he tasted a lemon - but only for a split second. He seemed to consider the drink for a few moments, and then he chugged it. Success! My daughter drank her juice down quickly as well, and bugged me all day long for more juice. I was so happy that they were digging the juice and getting more servings of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Ready for the recipe?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The poll results are in!

Last week I asked you what you thought the ideal weekly posting frequency was. I had many people ask me to post the final tally, so here they are. Are you surprised by the results? If you would like to chime in and share how often you blog or on the other side of the fence - how often you want to see a blog post (two different things there, for sure), head to the comment section.

What is the ideal weekly posting frequency for blogs?
  • Every day - 13 votes (37%)
  • Every other day - 10 votes (28%)
  • 2-3 times a week - 17 votes (48%)
  • once a week - 0 votes (0%)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ali's Notepad - July 9th, 2011

Woo it's Saturday! Time for me to feature your awesome posts. If you would like to view my Pinterest board with pictures & links to of all of these projects, click here.

If you are a fan of Tastespotting and all the variations of that website, you should check out ERecipeCards. The main difference being that all normal, non-perfect food pics are accepted. Which is great. Honestly I don't typically cook from websites that have magazine quality, ultra stylized and ultra complicated recipes. I like casual cooking blogs that look like food I can actually make, which is exactly why I love ERecipeCards. Be sure to check it out and submit pics from your blog. (FYI, I don't work for them and this is not sponsored, I just really like the site.)

Coconut Crusted French Toast (@ Moms Review 4 You)

Sausage Breakfast Casserole (@ Boy Cheese Sandwich)

Homemade Furniture Polish (@ DIY Life)

PB&J Ice Cream Sandwiches (@ Crumbs and Chaos)

Buffalo Chicken & Potato Casserole (@ Holy Cannoli Recipes)

25 Documents You Need Before You Die. (@ WSJ)

Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Scones (@ Cake Mom)

Strawberry Vodka & Strawberry Vodka Lemonade (@ Washington's Green Grocer)

If you were featured here today and would like to grab a featured button, it is in the right hand sidebar. Linking up to Friday Favorite Finds.

Friday, July 8, 2011

DIY Lunchables by Jen at Domesticated Nomad



Happy Friday Guys! I am so excited to have my very first guest poster today. The extremely talented Jen from Domesticated Nomad is in the house today to share her DIY Lunchables.  

Technically, we are doing a blog swap. I'm posting a new recipe over at her blog, and she is posting over here at Jam Hands. Be sure to drop by her site and say hi. Take it away Jen!   -Ali

Hi Jam Hands readers! I adore Ali's blog and I'm so excited she let me take over today. I'm Jen from Domesticated Nomad. I typically blog about home DIY stuff and kids' art lessons, but today I'm going to talk to you well, write about DIY Lunchables.

Out in blogland, I wish I could remember where, I saw the idea of making a menu for the kids to deal with the summer lunches. I thought this was a great idea. But I wanted to make the lunches "ready-to-go" so I created my own, much tastier and healthier, lunchables.


I made up my menu. This is posted to the fridge so they can stand there and ponder it as long as they want, and I don't have to stand there and repeat their choices until they decide. I can go about my business.

So, what are their choices?

Pizza: homemade flatbreads, mozzarella, pepperoni, and tomato sauce with carrot sticks and jello. Just use your favorite recipes or brands.

For the Jello cups, it is a huge money saver to make your own. I bought 4 oz. mason jars. With one package of Jello, I was able to fill eight jars.


If the boys pick a lunch with a Jello cup, they can grab one and eat it right out of the jar. So easy.

Meat, Cheese and Crackers:

Um, it's what it sounds like. But if you do it yourself, you control the quality. And I include fresh fruit.

Boiled Egg Box:

My youngest doesn't eat much meat, so this box is about meatless protein. A boiled egg, celery with peanut butter, and a Jello cup.

Butter Noodles:

Butter noodles, peas, cheese and applesauce

After boiling the noodles and draining I add butter or margarine and a dash of garlic salt. Stir it up and add it to the box.
Also, add peas, sliced cheese and an applesauce cup. (Again, money saver, buy a large jar of applesauce and pour into small mason jars. Huge savings, little work.)

When you serve this box, take out the applesauce and cheese and add a tiny bit of water. Loosely cover with the lid and pop in the microwave to reheat. The tiny bit of water will steam things so the pasta isn't dry.

I will just make up several boxes on the weekends to stock up the fridge for the upcoming week.


I will probably have some other options on occasion too. It's not that I mind cooking; actually, I love to cook. It's that I hate the daily drama of deciding what to have for lunch. Now there is no guess work. I think this will be great for packed lunches for school too.

If you want the PDF of the menu, send me an email and I'll send it to you. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

DIY Facial Olive Oil Cleanser



If you have never heard of an olive oil cleanser you are probably raising an eyebrow at me right now. So yes, it is a thing people do. I ran across this post at Heritage Schoolhouse about two weeks ago and read up on it at The Oil Cleansing Method.

We are on day 4 of DIY week and so far this has been my favorite DIY yet. A little back story: my skin is extremely sensitive. I have tried so many different cleansers over the years and wasn't happy with any of them. They not only dried out my skin, but caused me to break out all the time. Being almost 30 and breaking out is lame!

I ended up stopping wearing makeup for the past few years just so my skin would stop breaking out. I am a former Mary Kay consultant, so this was a pretty big deal for me. I would wash my face with cleansers for sensitive skin but in the end they dried out my skin and aggravated it. I was at the end of my rope.

Being that I am steadily marching on to 30, I decided it was time to buckle down and find something, anything that helped my skin. To not only cleanse it, but to moisturize it. I have tried the Olive Oil Cleanser for a week now and I am loving it. My skin is softer and isn't itchy or aggravated. Are you ready for the recipe?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

We are on day 3 of DIY week. Are you pumped? I'm pumped. Let's go!

**UPDATED** The first few days that I used this detergent, everything seemed fine. After that, the entire batch of detergent seemed to clump up and solidify. I forged ahead, and stirred it every day to minimize the clumping. I continued to use the detergent for a good week to two weeks and over time there seemed to be a cloudy film on the dishes that built up the more times they were run through the dishwasher. So because of this, I have to recommend that you NOT make this recipe. If you were wondering, I was using the vinegar during the rinse cycle, but it didn't seem to help. I apologize if anyone made this and was not pleased with the results. I wasn't either. :(

Next on my list to DIY is dishwasher detergent. This recipe comes from Crazy Craft Bugs and Flitterbugs. Be sure to check out their posts and tips. I love my dishwasher, old and small as it is. I grew up the youngest child of three and as such I was the go-to dishwasher. I have to say, I don't miss washing dishes by hand. If my dishwasher broke I would survive, but I enjoy the convenience of loading it up and going about my business.

As you can see my container was a bit large but I didn't want to buy a canister when I had one that worked perfectly well, even if it is a bit big. Check the comment section for an approximate price breakdown. Ready for the recipe?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DIY Lemon & Honey Facial



If your skin is feeling dry and is in the need of a little TLC I have a great recipe for you, courtesy of diyNatural. Lemon, honey and olive oil are mixed together to create a simple facial mask that you can use three times a week to refresh your skin.

Ready for the recipe?

Monday, July 4, 2011

DIY Citrus Vinegar Cleaning Solution

Welcome to DIY Week! 

I thought I would change it up a little this week. Instead of recipes for food, I will be bringing you recipes to create DIY cleaning and beauty solutions. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of making your own facial cleanser or laundry detergent, but times have changed. It is frugal to make it yourself, and dang it, it just feels good knowing that you are self sufficient.

Up first is a homemade citrus vinegar cleaning solution. I came across this recipe for Orange Vinegar over at Little Brick Ranch and decided to give it a try. I had used a basic water & plain vinegar solution in the past and liked it and the addition of the scent and cleaning properties of the citrus oils seemed like a great idea.

Pictured above is the solution the day I made it. I will come back and update this post in two weeks with the finished product.

The original recipe used oranges only, which is totally fine, but I had a bunch of lemons and oranges on the counter so I combined them. Plan on using a few pieces of fruit per large jar. Ready for the recipe?

Happy 4th of July!


Please be safe out there.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Layered Bean Dip

If you are on a last minute hunt for party food, let me introduce you to this tasty Layered Bean Dip from Katie's Nesting Spot. It comes together in less than 10 minutes, 5 if you are really scootin' along. Spices are added to refried beans then you layer on sour cream and the toppings of your choice. It is easy, delicious and a crowd pleaser.

I would like to also say that as I was taking these pictures my 3 year old was taking off her tennis shoe and instead of removing it like normal, she flung that sucker across the room and it landed right in this bean dip.

I looked up at her from the camera and said, "Really? REALLY?" She looked a little concerned at first but then she laughed. Kids!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ali's Notepad - July 2nd, 2011

Woo it's Saturday! Time for me to feature your awesome posts. If you would like to view my Pinterest board with pictures & links to of all of these projects, click here.

These cute Mini Spinach Dip Bread Bowls are a wonderful twist on a classic party food. (@ Stars & Sunshine)

I am drooling over the Bacon Wrapped Cheese Dogs (@ Barbara Bakes)

Kids would remember these Drive-In Movie Cars for years. So adorable. (@ Mommaskindacrafty)

Aren't these mason jars filled with sangria beautiful? (@ Tea & Cookies)

Speaking of beautiful, these Strawberry and Cream Bars are stunning. (@ ValSoCal)

Black Bean Brownies are quick and easy way to sneak in more fiber. (@ The Pursuit of Happiness)

After reading about an oil cleansing method at Heritage Schoolhouse, I checked out the article at The Oil Cleansing Method. I am on day 2 and my skin feels great! I am using 25% castor oil and 75% pure olive oil. (@ Heritage Schoolhouse and The Oil Cleansing Method)

Homemade Orange Vinegar Cleaning Solution. Yep, sign me up! (@ Little Brick Ranch)

If you were featured here today and would like to grab a featured button, it is in the right hand sidebar. Linking up to Friday Favorite Finds.