October 27, 2009

Pampered Chef's New Cookie Press

The attendees at last week's Pampered Chef event were given a cookie press to take home and try out. Always up for an excuse to bake cookies, I put it to the test the day after I received it. Watch as my son demonstrates the press.

I followed the Pampered Chef's spritz cookie recipe, but I think my butter was not softened enough and as a result I mixed the batter more than I should have. This resulted in a dough that was a bit stickier than we used at the Pampered Chef demo, and as you can see, there is a bit of a learning curve.

Everyone who ate one of the cookies raved about the taste. They were delicious.

October 23, 2009

My Afternoon at Pampered Chef

I spent yesterday afternoon with a wonderful group of bloggers at The Pampered Chef's headquarters in Addison, Illinois. It was like going to a Pampered Chef party, or cooking show as they call them, only I didn't need to open my wallet. This was not a recruitment event; they focused on the products, the company, and the food and it was all very interesting.

We met with various representatives of the company and learned about the recipe development process, all while sipping a delicious cranberry fizz and nibbling delectable butter cookies.

Pampered Chef's recipe developers love their jobs. Truly, they get to follow their passions and foodie dreams with the added bonus of keeping typical office hours, something that's nearly impossible to do in many restaurant and hospitality jobs.

Office hours aside, even the developers are PC consultants and are required to host cooking shows a few times a year. This keeps them in touch with their network of consultants and makes them more aware of what they are asking those consultants to do when they host shows.

The Pampered Chef folks are especially proud of their redesigned cookie press, which (and this jazzes me perhaps more than it should) is also a potato ricer. It can also be used make crackers, too, which is something I'm excited to try. (Sounds very gourmet, no?)

In addition to the aforementioned cookies, as you will see in the photos below, we made and devoured honey-apple brie bites (yum!) and turkey tetrazzini (not quite my thing).

Our gracious hosts allowed us to create a wish list of Pampered Chef products we'd like to try. Though, indeed, I can look longingly through the PC catalog, we're in such a state of paring down that I only requested a few simple ones that I know will I will use like bamboo salad tongs and as cheese grater that I think the boys will like to use.

They gave us a few goodies for the road, as well--including said cookie press. I already have a cookie date night set with my boys.

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October 18, 2009

The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

Though a dedicated carnivore, I was tempted by the offer of a review copy of The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless recipes that will change the way you eat.

According the book jacket, cookbook author Tal Ronnen is among the most celebrated vegan chefs around. A glimpse at his full-color cookbook confirms why. Ronnen is renown for applying traditional French culinary techniques to vegan food and this book shows the results. His original recipes for hearty corn chowder (thickened with cashew cream), a satisfying salad (with tofu ricotta), Gardein "chicken" scaloppini, are all pictured in tempting glory.

The book contains a primer of the vegan lifestyle and includes commentary from guest chefs like Chad Sarno, as well as seasonal menus and a listing of Ronnen's favorite vegan restaurants.

I have no doubt if Chef Tal were to cook nearly any of these meals for me, he'd have a good chance of turning me on to a vegan lifestyle. As for getting it on myself, well, I'm not quite ready. Many of the recipes called for ingredients we didn't have on hand like nutritional yeast flakes, the aforementioned cashew cream, or seitan. We could easily pick these on a trip to Whole Foods, but we're lazy like that sometimes.

Ultimately, this book is little more than vegan food porn for me. I'm going to pass it along to a vegetarian or vegan-curious friend who will surely be intrigued by the stunning photos, the gourmet recipes and the encouraging words related to a vegan lifestyle.

October 03, 2009

Ninja Master Blender and Starbucks VIA: A Video Review and Giveaway

When I received samples of Starbucks VIA and my Ninja Master Blender (turn down your sound before click) for review in the same week, I was inspired to try them out together in one tasty review.

Watch as I mix up a fancypants homemade coffee drink in my Ninja.


I enjoyed my iced mocha-like drink and the Ninja cleanup was simple.

I'm not one for drinking coffee straight, that is without a bit of mocha and topped with whipped cream, but I brought a few samples of VIA home from BlogHer09 courtesy of SoCal Vacation Gal Jennifer Miner, anyway. I gave them to my mom and she's now a huge fan of it. Gosh, I feel kind of like a drug dealer. The woman is now hooked.

Don't tell mom, but now I've got a few extra VIA samples to share with you along with a coupon for a can of Reddi-Wip whipped cream, so you can make your own fru-fru coffee drink.

US residents only, leave a comment by Sunday, October 12 at 1:00 PM CST . For extra entries, tweet or blog about the contest and come back to let me know in a new comment. Winner will be chosen at random.

Edited to add: After making the coffee drinks, my crew couldn't wait to try making other items with the Ninja Blender, so we followed up with guacamole and deliciously smooth mashed potatoes. The blender is a hit and I can tell we're going to be putting it to the test over the coming weeks.

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