New kitchen tool: touch free soap dispenser

Food preparation requires attention to a few principles which decrease or eliminate bacterial transfer from hands to food. Most people know the importance of not cross contaminating raw meats or seafood on cutting boards.  And, understand the importance of cleaning knives and counter-tops.  But, reaching for a contaminated hand soap dispenser can also be a culprit of bacteria in a home kitchen.  So, when I was given the opportunity to test and review this product for my blog, I was very pleased.

This new touch free soap dispenser perfectly reduces contamination after touching meats or even messy foods. There is no need to touch the tool while preparing or cooking foods.  The soap dispenses in a perfect quantity simply into the palm of the hand.  A blue light signal shows that the dispenser is working.  There are no drips.

The clean white design is both stylish and practical.  The dispenser works with four AAA batteries, which are easily installed.  The large soap tank is easily filled or re-filled with either soap or hand sanitizer.

This is a perfect gift for someone with a new kitchen, or for anyone who loves to cook.



For more information, please follow this link to find this product by Simple One:

Kilwins chocolate kitchen tour

Kilwins Chocolate shops are located all over the country in many states from Florida to New York.   But, Michigan is home to 24 shops.  Just about every small town up North has a Kilwins, which is known for delicious  boxed chocolates, taffy, caramels, fudge, caramel apples,  handcrafted marshmallows and even ice cream.


Walking into Kilwins is an experience, as the fragrance of chocolate fills the air.  The displays are beautiful, and the chocolate presentation is equal to any fine chocolate company in the world.  This past week, we visited the Petoskey shop (among others) to sample some nut clusters and tour the chocolate factory.  This location offers free tours, which last about one hour.

A history of the Kilwin family is shared, along with information about how the candy is decorated and produced.  Every one behind the glass walls making the candy has a smile on their face. The candy is handmade, and some of the equipment dates back to the 1940’s, 1950s and 1960s. Don Kilwin began his business in 1947.


With 80 shops, it should be easy enough to find one that is near your home or a friend’s home for a visit.  Or, you could just check out their website for more information:


Tom’s Mom’s cookies

Located in Harbor Springs Michigan, Tom’s Mom’s Cookies is a wonderful place to visit.  We heard about this cookie shop when watching a travel Michigan television program.  Having won several awards while being in business for more than 30 years, we decided to visit the shop last week.

The shop was busy when we visited, and the cookies were filling the glass case.  Cookie production seems to take place steps from the counter, with an easy sort of feel to the surroundings.  The atmosphere is very cozy, and the pace equally relaxed.

Just outside of the shop is an eating area, where space is provided for relaxation and enjoyment of a freshly baked cookie.  We bought a dozen to go and my husband has been enjoying each of the flavors over the past week.

Cookie selection ranges from chocolate chunk to oatmeal raisin with every old-fashioned cookie in-between. Be sure to stop in when traveling to Harbor Springs.  It was one of those fun experiences that make the day special. For more details, check out their website:



Up North flowers

Each summer when we travel up North, I am always delighted to admire the lovely window boxes and street flowers that fill the shopping districts of the Northern Michigan towns.  Here are some of my favorite flower boxes — but, realize that there were so many more that were equally beautiful.




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The flowers were beautiful again this year, with the cooler temperatures still intact.  This past week, the daily highs were in the 60’s.  Cool lake breezes made the temperatures perfectly ideal for walking, relaxing and shopping the area. And, summer flower boxes make the day so much fun for me.



Roasted peppers with pasta stuffing

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s spaghetti stuffing for peppers, I adapted her recipe and prepared an unusual filling for the traditional stuffed peppers of the past.  The key to this recipe is the brightly colored peppers which add to the look and upscale feel of the dish.  Martha peels her peppers after roasting in an open gas flame, and I chose to roast my peppers under the broiler and not peel them.  I like the look of the peppers and the stability they offer by not peeling, when baking with the stuffing.

The dish is delicious and very unexpected for your summer guests.  Since the pasta portion is small, it is not overwhelming for a summertime meal.  This dish does not revolve on the pasta, but the delicious taste of the roasted or baked peppers.

I chose 4 peppers to make the dish, but any number of peppers could be used and ingredients increased to match the need of the party. I cut the tops off of the peppers and cleaned the inside of them.  I chopped the tops of each pepper and placed in a skillet with olive oil.

I roasted the main portion peppers in my oven broiler for 20 minutes, rotating them often on a small sheet pan.  While they were cooking, I boiled a pot of water for the pasta.  In another skillet on the stove top, I added to the chopped pepper tops, 4-5 chopped green onions, one 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes,  chopped fresh parsley, one small chopped red onion, sea salt, ground black pepper to taste and dried oregano.

While this mixture was cooking, I measured my spaghetti pasta and boiled for 8 minutes as directed on the package.  When the pasta was done, it was drained and added to the pepper mixture.

After the roasting was done in the broiler, I removed the peppers and added the pasta mixture to the pepper insides.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Served with a side salad, this is a fun meal to enjoy with guests.

raspberry bars

Summer desserts are often centered on fruits of the season.  Here is a delicious raspberry bar recipe that begins with the Jiffy raspberry muffin mix.  The recipe comes from the Jiffy mixes recipe book.  The bars are perfect for an easy dessert for a summer barbecue.

To make the dessert bars:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a square ceramic dish with Pam spray.  Mix together one box of Jiffy raspberry muffin mix, 5 tablespoons softened margarine, 1/4 cup quick oats, and 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.

Divide out 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture and place in a bowl for the topping.  With the remaining dough, press into the square pan.  Next, spread 1/2 cup raspberry jam on top of the dough in the pan.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture into dots on the top over the filling.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.  Cool completely and cut into small squares for serving.

This is a nice fruit dessert for summer parties. Serve alone or add ice cream on the side.  Whipped cream would also be delicious with this fruit bar.


Pasta with peas and mushrooms

Summertime pasta dishes tend to be lighter without sauces, and mixed with fresh vegetables.  Here is one of those delightful recipes that can be made with a variety of pasta noodles.  I had tri-color penne pasta, but this is always a favorite made with medium size pasta shells.

Start the preparation with a pot of boiling water and 2 cups of pasta.  Boil for about 10-12 minutes.  In a medium-sized skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 chopped green onions (white and green stems) and 3-4 chopped porcini mushrooms.  Cook and then add three strips of chopped cooked bacon into the skillet.  In a large skillet, add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth.  Add 1 cup frozen peas and heat.


Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 cup of hot pasta water to add into the dish if needed.  Add the pasta to the large skillet, along with the ingredients from the medium-sized skillet.  Toss and coat the pasta.

Season with ground black pepper and parsley flakes to taste.

If the pasta needs more liquid to move easily, add some of the pasta water slowly to the dish.  Finish the dish when serving with shredded Parmesan cheese, either by adding to the warm pasta in the skillet or on top of the dish at the table.  Serve with a fresh green salad.