Crispy spiralized sweet potatoes

Another delicious way to serve sweet potatoes is by using a spiralizer. First, I peel and remove the two ends of the potatoes. After using the Paderno three blade spiralizer, I gather the potatoes and place in my Venn Kitchen mixing bowl. Next, I just add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, season them with Weber grilling vegetable seasoning and parsley flakes,  and place on a baking sheet.

I would recommend roasting at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then rotate and mix them up on the pan.  Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast until crispy and browned.  I roasted mine for a total of 20 minutes and they were ultra crispy and delicious.  They can be seasoned with salt, pepper or any type of spicy seasoning if desired. Vary by decreasing the roasting time for less crispy potatoes.

These sweet potatoes are a great snack, a perfect accompaniment to a burger or sandwich for a meal. And the spiralizer is so much fun to use.  Having the right equipment makes this recipe come together very quickly.

After visiting the home and housewares show this spring in Chicago, I have been so happy to test some new products coming soon to the kitchen marketplace.

Please notice my favorite new tools from Venn Kitchen products.  The mixing bowls are graduated and the perfect size for all types of food preparation. They are stain resistant and manufactured from food grade silicone coated nylon.  They are dishwasher safe and stack so nicely in a cabinet. The bowls have a non-slip base and even lids for storage.

I especially love my new Venn Kitchen cutting board, which served also as a great platter for my spiralizing.  As always, I love my Paderno spiralizer which was purchased at Williams Sonoma this spring. I used the smallest blade for my sweet potatoes.

Venn Kitchen products are distributed through Captivate Brands, a global manufacturer and innovator new to the marketplace.  For more information, follow them on Facebook at Venn Kitchen.  Their brand has so many new products coming to the market.

Air popped popcorn

Popcorn is my favorite snack food.  Over the years, I have had many types of poppers.  This one is new to my home, and it has been an easy transition into use.  Cuisinart offers this new popper which allows for no use of oil.

The air popped popcorn is super fluffy and light.  There is almost no clean up to this popper, as the chamber wipes clean after use.  The plastic chute is the only part that needs a quick wash in the sink.  The unit uses 1500 watts of power, so it is a fast process.

The best part of this machine is that it works in under 3 minutes.  10 cups of perfect popcorn in less than one commercial break is nothing short of amazing. This is a super fun tool to use.  So glad that I added it to my home this winter.

If you need a gift idea for that next party, this is one that everyone should love.

Chicago Popcorn

So a visit to Chicago must include a visit to Garrett’s Popcorn shops. This popcorn has been a tradition since 1949. With ten locations all over the city and two booths at O’Hare Airport, it has become a very popular stop for residents as well as visitors to the city.


We made it to three locations during our visit and totally appreciate the air popped quality of the large kernels of freshly popped corn.  The signature recipe that gives the ultimate high quality taste and flavor to the corn makes this the best popcorn I have ever tasted.


For real foodies, this is a must stop on the list when visiting the area.  Flavors offered included:  buttery, cheese corn, caramel crisp, cashew caramel crisp, pecan caramel crisp, almond caramel crisp, macadamia caramel crisp, and then seasonal flavors of mild and dark chocolate caramel crisp, pumpkin spice caramel crisp, and mixes of these flavors. They even featured strawberry popcorn for this summer.


The secret family recipe includes blending the flavors in old-fashioned copper kettles fresh and warm all day for sale to the customers.  Every bag is packed fresh while you wait. We purchased the buttery and the cheese corn flavors and enjoyed them for our entire trip.

Garrett’s have also opened shops in New York, Las Vegas, Atlanta and even now in Novi, Michigan. With their hashtag of #LoveIsMessy, remember to have a napkin with you as you enjoy your bag.


sweet and salty pretzels

We had a rainy Halloween night here in Michigan.  So, we had fewer than expected Trick or Treaters, which was a bit sad.  Just like so many things from years ago, I feel that this American tradition is going to be extinct soon.

However, in the past few weeks, I have still managed to keep the fun of Halloween alive in our home.  After my husband commented that he loved chocolate dipped pretzels one day in the Sanders store near Ann Arbor, I decided to make some of my own.

By simply using some white chocolate melted over a double boiler, I dipped the ends of pretzels, and decorated with some holiday decors.  I could have done the whole bag, even though it is a bit time-consuming dipping one by one.  I used waxed paper and allowed them to dry.  The pretzels dried within an hour and I was able to bag them for a couple of friends as well.

This was very fun and I would recommend for any holiday.  I have made some other pretzel snacks in the past, and they always seem to be well-liked by everyone.

Ours were quickly gobbled up, so be sure to make a big batch, because they are quite delicious.






Oscar’s awards appetizer: Taco dip

Just like the big sporting events broadcast on television, we celebrate the awards shows with a few appetizers while watching the Red Carpet coverage.

Here is a great appetizer for one of those types of parties. It is a compilation of many recipes I have collected over the years from Internet websites.


I use 4 ounces/ 1/2 block of Philadelphia low-fat cream cheese at room temperature mixed with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of low-fat sour cream. Mix well and spread on a flat dish.  Refrigerate.  When ready to serve, top with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped black olives, and 1-2 chopped green onions. All of these ingredients can be ‘sized-up’ for a larger party.  This recipe will serve 6 people at an appetizer party.

Serve with tostito chips.




Neiman Marcus cheesy bacon spread

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI  have had this cracker spread recipe for a number of years, so I am not certain how it dropped into my recipe box.  It is a very tasty spread, especially for those who love bacon.  It can be served with a variety of crackers, corn chips, or even sturdy tortilla chips.  This is not a dip, so thinner chips will break.  Always plan to have a small spoon or spreader available for presentation.

To make the spread, assemble these ingredients:  8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups low-fat or light mayonnaise, 5-6 sliced green onions, chopped cooked bacon or bacon bits, and slivered almonds.   (add desired amount of bacon and almonds to taste)

Mix together and chill before serving.


pizza bread appetizer

Many variations of this recipe are featured in the online cookbooks including Pinterest.  These round appetizer breads remind me of the 1970’s spinach dip in a bread round era. Those dips, served with the surrounding bread cubes, were popular for more than ten years, and this pizza bread recipe seems very similar to those popular dishes. In fact, I have already shared a recipe for an appetizer herb and cheese bread called cheesy herb bread during the month of December, 2012.

If you have an upcoming football or other sports party where an easy quick appetizer is needed, try this one.  I promise you that your guests will enjoy it as much as those seventies bread dips.

This recipe is for pepperoni pizza bread, but the pepperoni could very easily be omitted and other sautéed vegetables added instead, or even bacon could be used for another meat-lover option.   I purchased regular sized turkey pepperoni and chopped them in small stacks which took very little time and is a cost saver.

To make the appetizer:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a medium-sized round loaf of bread, slice the bread into cubes without slicing through to the bottom crust.  Place the bread loaf on a silicone mat or a foil lined baking sheet.  This is an important step, as some of the cheese will ooze out of the bread during baking.

Insert one package of small-sized or chopped turkey pepperoni into the cubes.  Follow with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Make certain all of the openings/cubes are filled.  Next, melt 3 tablespoons of margarine and add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Pour these ingredients over the loaf into the slices.  If desired, sprinkle the loaf with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove and unwrap and return to the oven for 10 more minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the loaf is golden brown color.  Serve with your favorite pizza sauce for dipping.


Searching for more ideas? Check out Baking with Blondie on