Lakeside Selection: Our Favorite Items This Week

New year, new you, right? Since one of the most common resolutions each year is to eat better and get healthy, this week’s focus is on our favorite kitchen items for your home. It’s a lot easier to have a healthy diet when you’ve got high-quality and convenient kitchen items, so check these out today and get yourself on the right track for 2014!

Divided Food Storage Containers

Divided Containers

There’s no better way to pack carrots and hummus or grapes and crackers than with these easy divided food containers. They’ll keep your crunchy foods from getting soggy, no matter what you put in the other side. We especially love these containers for Greek yogurt and homemade granola.

They’re the perfect size for a healthy breakfast or light snack at work, and they’re really great for road trips with the kids. You can also divide afternoon snacks for the kids, so they’re all prepared when they get home from school.

Dip Bowl Hangers

Dip Bowl Hangers

Do you like dips and appetizers? Planning a party for the Super Bowl this year? We love these dip bowl hangers for serving sauces and dips alongside the chips and vegetables. For healthy options, try baked pita chips with homemade spinach artichoke dip, roasted garlic hummus with carrots, or organic corn chips with salsa and guacamole.

This is a great way to save space on a crowded appetizer table, or a way to serve ketchup with your kids’ burgers and fries without making a mess everywhere. Try serving toppings to oatmeal, like nuts and dried fruits in this bowl as well. You really can’t go wrong, and clean up is so easy!

Plastic Travel Tumblers

Plastic Straw Travel Tumblers

Summer is right around the corner, so it’s okay to start thinking about smoothies and iced coffee, which is why we’re in love with these plastic travel tumblers with straws. If you’re looking to get your 2014 off to a bright and healthy start, try your hand at easy green smoothies and drink them on your way to work with these great travel tumblers.

The straw makes it super easy to drink on the go, and even if you just drink water from the tumbler, think about how much money (& plastic) you’re saving. It’s a win-win for your wallet and the environment.

Silicone Instant Spouts

Instant Spouts

It seems like every time we make pancakes and waffles, or try to fill a muffin tin, we end up with a hundred dirty spoons and drops of batter across the countertop. These silicone instant spouts make it very easy to pour batter exactly where it belongs. You can wipe the drips away with a small spoon or spatula, and you won’t have to worry about a mess all over your kitchen counter.

It’s a clever tool that works for just about any bowl or container. You can use it for muffins and pancakes, as well as for pouring soups and hot chocolate. And you know what the best part is? You can rest your spoon or whisk on the spout instead of on a utensil holder on the stove.

3 Amazing Holiday Potluck Ideas

The holiday season is practically synonymous with the traditional potluck. Nobody wants to be the third consecutive guest to arrive with yet another 7-layer dip, so what should you actually bring along? If you’re running low on time and creativity, don’t worry – these holiday potluck ideas are sure to win the party over.

The trick to mastering the potluck is to think outside the box – with so much food being served, as a general rule of thumb, lighter is better. With that being said, here are some amazing seasonal salads that are a breeze to prepare.

Orange and Pomegranate Salad w/ Buttermilk Dressing

Orange-pomegranate-salad

Image Credit: brooklynsupper.net

Combining seasonal flavors like bright citrus and rich pomegranate, these fruits pair beautifully with a creamy buttermilk dressing. Although simple by nature, this salad is loaded with flavor.

Start by preparing the dressing. Here’s what you’ll need,

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon shallot (minced)
1/2 teaspoon minced
rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Grab a mixing bowl and start whisking the zest, juice, mustard, vinegar, buttermilk and olive oil together. As it starts to blend together, add in the shallots, rosemary and sea salt.

Finally, prepare the greens. Here’s what you’ll need,

1 large offering of spinach
3 oranges
1 large pomegranate
1/2 thinly sliced shallot
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
A dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Delicately peel your oranges making sure to preserve the citrusy flesh. Chop these slices about ½”. Next, pour your fresh dressing over the spinach and gently use your hands to ensure the greens receive an even coat.

Finish off this holiday salad with strategically placed orange slices and drizzling the lush pomegranate seeds throughout the greens, leaving room for the shallots. Top it off with the fresh rosemary, sea salt and pepper and you’re set to go. Delicious!

Ginger Spiced Pecans

Sweet-spicy-pecans

Image Credit: savoryspiceshop.com

Perfect for the holiday season, ginger spice pecans make an easy offering for the holiday potluck – something your company will find every bit delicious as they do accessible. If you’re dish is really pressed for time, these sautéed pecan halves are a happy compromise.

Grab yourself a nonstick frying pan and these other ingredients,

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch salt

Begin by melting butter within your nonstick pan over medium heat. As it melts, add in the pecan halves and allow them to cook, making sure to stir them. You’ll want these to brown, which, depending on your stove, shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

Using a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, ginger and salt. After a quick mix here, add these ingredients to the cooking pecans making sure you continue to stir. Avoid cooking this all together for too long as the sugar will eventually melt away from the pecans.

Finally, allow the baked pecans to sit out and cool on a cookie sheet setup with wax paper. This should allow the coat to properly adhere to the skin. Transfer your pecans in a bowl and you’re ready to go.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut-squash-risotto

Image Credit: thisweekfordinner.com

If you’ve been tasked to bring along something a bit heavier and you’re comfortable in the kitchen, there’s nothing quite like a great risotto. The butternut squash adds a terrific seasonal twist to a proven potluck favorite.

Here’s what this recipe calls for,

2 cups of butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Begin by placing your squash within a steamer over a saucepan. Add some water and cover the squash, bringing it to boil over medium-high heat. You’ll want to steam the squash till tender, generally around 10 – 15 minutes. Afterward, drain the water and mash the tenderized squash in a separate bowl.

Place your butter in the saucepan and melt it over the same heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, making sure to stir until the onion softens – you don’t want to burn it. When beginning to cook, add the rice. Cook this mixture until the rice starts to glisten and the onion edges start to brown, generally an additional 5 minutes.

Carefully pour your white wine in, constantly stirring the mixture until it has completely evaporated. Stir in your freshly mashed squash and add 1/3 of the chicken stock. Reduce the heat and cook until the rice absorbs the chicken stock, typically around 5 -7 minutes.

Add the remaining chicken stock and continue to stir. Repeat the previous process, allowing the rice to soak and add your remaining chicken stock. The risotto should appear creamy before you add the Parmesan cheese and other seasonings.

Happy holidays to you and your potluck company!

This article was written and prepared by Tyler Thursby, a self-proclaimed foodie and contributing author for Crooked Manners

Exciting Fall Pumpkin Recipe Ideas

Fall-PumpkinAs this especially steamy summer segues into fall, we’re beginning to turn our heads toward the seasonal tastes that we know and love. Goodbye watermelon and iced tea, hello mulled cider and pumpkin! It’s easy to bring out the old standards, like pumpkin pie and those unbelievably good pumpkin spice lattes, but maybe it’s time for a change. If you’re looking to really make the most out of this season’s pumpkin harvest, read on to find out my favorite ways to use that most versatile of squashes.

Pumpkin Curry
This squash makes a fabulous vegetable backup dancer to the proteins in Thai or Indian curries. It’s easy to adapt your standby curry recipe to fit it, too! All you need to do is sauté about two pounds of chopped raw pumpkin with your curry spices and paste, then simmer it with coconut milk and vegetable stock until the pumpkin becomes tender. The flesh of squash will absorb the curry spices; you’ll love how its sweetness compliments the warm spiciness of your curry paste.

Pumpkin Hummus
Believe it or not, pumpkin goes fabulously with chickpeas. If you’re looking for a quick hors d’oeuvres for a fall-themed party, this recipe takes about 30 seconds to make. Simply combine a whole can of unseasoned pumpkin puree and a dash of pumpkin pie spice with a 32 oz. container of pre-made hummus. Of course, you can and should add a few dashes of cayenne pepper to it if you’re a heat fiend. The resulting creamy concoction tastes like a pleasant fireside chat feels. This dish is nicely complemented by a bowl of multigrain pita chips.

Pumpkin Granola
Preheat your oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix half a can of pumpkin puree, ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ⅓ cup of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a couple hefty dashes of pumpkin pie spice until everything becomes well-distributed. Mix in your granola fixings — that could include coconut, oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, whatever! Spread your granola mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for about a half hour, stirring intermittently. Once this mix cools off, it’ll harden up and become the most pumpkin-y breakfast cereal you’ve ever had! (I also like to put a palmful of this granola on top of vanilla ice cream.)

Pickled Pumpkin
This is a recipe idea that I got from my Anglo-Saxon friends, who would regale me with stories about their Old World grannies who tended to pickle everything in sight. Though I wouldn’t leap to have a taste of their fermented pigs’ feet or rutabagas, pickled pumpkin actually tastes much better than it sounds. It’s actually incredibly easy to make, especially if you can get your hands on some pre-chopped pumpkin flesh. All you need to do is put together the pickling liquid. I like to make it equal parts white sugar and white vinegar, with a handful of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves to add some fall spiciness. Boil the liquid to dissolve the sugar and pour it over the pumpkin, which should be in a heatproof bowl. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, then pour the whole mixture into a pot, but without the whole spices. Boil the pumpkin until it becomes transparent, then let the mixture cool. Transfer the pumpkin and pickling liquid into small mason jars — they make great gifts!

Pumpkin Lasagna
Now this is my all-time favorite pumpkin recipe, especially since it doesn’t require the kind of hacking and chopping that pumpkins generally require. The recipe that I use again and again comes from Food and Wine magazine — you can find the complete rundown here. Basically, instead of meat and tomatoes, you use Swiss chard, heavy cream, sage, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree to hold this lasagna together. The salty richness of Parmesan cheese makes a great counterpoint to the slightly bitter greens and sweet pumpkin. Frankly, I prefer this variation over normal lasagna!

Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets. 

5 Entertaining Tips Everyone Should Know

Party season is right around the corner, and we have some great party tips to make your next get-together memorably festive. Whether it’s your turn to host an office party, a birthday celebration or just a good excuse to have fun with friends, these tips will provide you with what you need for success.

Tiki-torches 

Pick a Theme

Holiday parties have a built-in theme, but even if you’re hosting a mid-week gathering for no particular reason, coming up with a concept for decorations, drinks and food can help you create a festive atmosphere. Luau and tiki themes are always hits for backyard barbecues, but don’t feel constrained to popular party ideas; you can go as wild as you like with your concept. Guests will be charmed with a Mardi Gras masquerade or a retro party with dishes and drinks from vintage cookbooks.

 

 

Handled-bakers

Cook Ahead

When you get most of the cooking done ahead of time, you give yourself more freedom to enjoy entertaining. Instead of spending your party in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on some complicated dish, plan a simple, straightforward menu of foods you know your guests will love. You and they will remember the fun more than the food, so prepare something elegant and easy. Lasagna, roasted chicken and macaroni and cheese are a few possibilities.

Cookware that looks and performs beautifully, such as this set of three handled baking dishes, lets you assemble and store entrees or side dishes the night before and pop them in the oven shortly before guests arrive. They go straight from the oven to the dinner table, saving you another step and giving you more time to spend with your guests.

Pillar-candle-light-string

 

Make It Inviting with Light

What makes a chic nightclub or formal restaurant special? In many cases, it’s the lighting, not the decor, that makes the difference. Try some special effects with lighting to make your next get-together magical. Outside, try stringing colorful paper lanterns or white fairy lights above your deck or patio. Interior spaces take on a beautifully warm and welcoming glow with candles. Kids and pets don’t always get along with candles, though, so choose child-friendly alternatives such as this electric pillar candle light string for part of your table design.

 

 

Create a Play List

Create-list

Music makes a party, and you have more options than ever for music that complements your theme. Internet radio stations have hundreds of stations with dozens of exciting musical genres from which to choose. You can even find music from favorite television shows or movies to play as background music for a season finale party or Oscar night. For holiday parties, look for unique takes on classics; an album of vintage Christmas music, for example, makes your party memorable and will get people talking.

Candle-warmer

 

Appeal to All the Senses

You’ve already decorated, cooked and chosen the music, but don’t forget to make an impression on your guests’ noses. Bouquets of fresh flowers, incense or candle warmers have the staying power to perfume the air for hours without coming on too strong. For a dinner party, choose scents that go well with food and won’t overpower the meal, such as vanilla or spice fragrances. A summer cocktail party might call for something exotic and tropical.

Entertaining can be as much fun for you, the host, as it is for your guests when you plan. Start thinking about creative, fun party ideas today, and you’ll be set from now until the new year!

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items for the Week

Summer days feel wonderfully endless, and we’ve been inspired to find new ways to spend those long, lazy afternoons. Why not relax outside and enjoy the extra hours of daylight? A few creature comforts and some entertaining essentials can turn a weekend afternoon into an impromptu party. Here’s what we love this week.

Swinging-Chair-Hammock
Nothing’s more relaxing than a hammock, and this fun hammock chair lets you have one all to yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have a spreading tree in your yard, turn it into a favorite summer hang-out with a few hammock chairs. The chair also works with hammock stands or doubles as a porch swing. Great for a solitary retreat or as extra seating for get-togethers, swing chairs fit any outdoor living style. Cushioned canvas seats keeps these chairs as comfortable as they are cool.

Folding-Deck-Tables
Make more room around your deck with outdoor patio furniture sets that keep your favorite drink or snack within easy reach. Because they attach securely to a railing on your deck or porch, these tables won’t tip and spill your morning coffee or afternoon iced tea. When they aren’t in use, fold them up and out of your way. Each table holds up to 50 pounds, so go ahead and use them to serve meals or hold heavy bottles.

Tiki-Umbrellas
Beat summer sun with fun style when you add a few charmingly retro tiki umbrellas to your deck. The umbrellas look like natural thatch, but the synthetic straw is weather-resistant and hides a durable polyester fabric umbrella that provides as much shade as a traditional beach umbrella. If you’re planning a pool party, make it a luau when you decorate with tiki style. We love this look with tiki torches and plenty of colorful outdoor dining accessories that fit the Polynesian theme.

Chair-Covers
Speaking of color, you can get more of it into your outdoor decor with outdoor furniture covers in mouth-watering, summery hues such as watermelon and kiwi. These stretchy terry slipcovers give last year’s poolside furniture an instant update. They aren’t just another pretty detail, either; with pockets for your sunscreen, shades and a good summer read, these covers are practical too. When it’s time to head to the beach for the weekend, whisk the cover off your chaise at home and fold it into a convenient tote that’s perfect for the shore.

Grilling-Essentials
One of the best ways to stay cool in the summer is to keep all the things that heat your home outside, and that includes cooking. Grilling foods also gives them amazing flavor, especially when you have the equipment to make the most of your propane or charcoal grill. Grilling essentials turn out flawless fire-roasted peppers, grilled fish, kabobs, and more. Serve your delicious food on outdoor dinnerware sets and let your meals take on the rich flavors of the grill while keeping food where you want it. Move beyond burgers this summer and become a true grill master!

And the Winner Is…You! For Hosting the Perfect Oscar Party

Perfect-Oscar-PartyPeople who think that party season ends with New Year’s Eve are missing out on a great excuse to celebrate: The Oscars. Heat things up this winter by hosting the perfect Academy Awards party.

Invitations
Set the tone for the evening with fun movie-ticket shaped invites or formal black-and-white numbers. Make a note about attire; a black tie makes for an elegant affair and is a great excuse to wear that evening gown stashed in the back of your closet. For a little bit of levity, suggest guests wear “creative black tie.” It’s fun to see your friends embrace tuxedo t-shirts, tuxedo pants paired with leather tops, and outrageous dresses for the evening.

Set the Mood
Turn your foyer into a red carpet with a red aisle runner to welcome guests. Add some velvet ropes or make your own out of twisted crepe paper. Grab a digital video camera and interview guests as they arrive, then break the ice by inviting everyone to watch the recording. Create a party atmosphere by decorating with foil stars, film reels or cut-outs of Oscar himself. Have fun accessories on hand like feather boas, top hats and tiaras so guests can play dress-up, and leave your favorite movie soundtrack playing in the background.

Food and Drink
Pass fancy hors d’oeuvres like shrimp and caviar on silver trays and offer guests flutes of champagne as the party starts, then serve a buffet main course. Name a dish or two after nominated films, like “Life of Pi Sweet Potato Pie” or “Frankenweenie Cocktail Sausages.” Once the awards show starts, set up a concession-stand-like display of popcorn in red-and-white bags and favorite movie candies that guests can munch while they watch. For dessert, bake star-shaped cookies covered in edible gold glitter or whip up a silky black-and-white mousse served in crystal dessert dishes or martini glasses.

That’s Entertainment
The awards program is the star of the show, but fill in the gaps with Oscar-themed games to keep guests from zoning out in front of the TV. Print some Oscar ballots and ask everyone to predict the winners; the person with the most right answers wins a movie theater gift certificate. Prepare Oscar-themed trivia questions or present your own awards for “best dressed” or “most dramatic entrance” during commercial breaks. Offer the winners plastic versions of the little gold man, and request an acceptance speech.

Your Oscar party, like the movies it celebrates, should be all about entertainment. A touch of glamour, a lot of laughs, and plenty of food and drink make for a festive event where you and your friends might even have more fun than the nominees themselves.

This was a guest post by PJK. 

Image Credit: ArtVoice

What would you do with $100 – Food Edition

This week is all about the gift of food!

See all the delicious gifts you can give with the $100 prize!

Assorted Gourment Pretzel Tub – $11.95

Flavors included are Chocolate Candies, Fudge, White Chocolate and Cocoa Crazy.

Homemade Giftable Treat Mixes – $6.95 each

Available in Banana Bread, Apple Bread, and Carrot Cake.

Cupcake Baking Gift Sets – $7.95 each

Available in Red Velvet, Pumpkin, and Spiced cupcake flavors.

Vino-Licious Party in a Pitcher – $9.95 each

Available in Margarita, Wine Ice, Lemonchillo, and Peach Bellini.

2-Pk. Gourmet Apples in Gift Box – $24.95 each

Available in Candy, Triple Fudge, and White Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar.

Holiday Snack Mix Tins – $8.95 each

Available in Banana Split, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, and Sweet Temptations.

Holiday Cocoas, Coffees or Teas – $9.95 per set

Available in Cocoa, Coffee or Tea.

Pasta Jar Gift Set – $11.95

Set includes: Glass jar, Cheese Grater, 16 oz bag Fettucine Pasta, and Pasta serving measurer

All this for $92.60!

Buyers’ Picks – Items we Love: Pet Food Container

Our buyer’s pick this week  is from our Pet buyer, Tim. His pick is the Pet Food Container with Scoop. This is a great container for dog owners, whether you have a large dog or a small puppy. Here is what Tim had to say:

The Pet Food Container with Scoop has been even more useful than I had expected.  With two dogs in the house, the mutts can definitely move through some kibble in a couple of days.  I can dump a whole bag of dog food in this container which means no more trips to the garage to get the rest of the bag.

The best thing about the container is that because it has an airtight seal it keeps that dog food smell out of my pantry.  I mean, it’s nice that the puppies get fresher tasting chow, but now my pantry doesn’t smell like a pet store.  Other cool features?  I can spot check through the clear sides to see how many noms are left for the dogs.  The included scoop keeps my hands clean during dinner time.  Finally, I can roll this bad boy in and out of the pantry with ease.  The pups now know that the sound of rolling wheels mean it’s time to eat!

Labor Day Camping

This Labor Day weekend I will be heading up north for a weekend of camping and one of my favorite parts of camping is the food! I found this great camping recipe that is sure to please the crowd.

One of my favorite foods at home: Macaroni and Cheese!

An easy recipe that can be easily adjusted to your favorite cheeses.

Camping Macaroni and Cheese  (www.munchinwithmunchkin.com)

Ingredients:

2 cups macaroni (precooked and packed for trip)
½ cup milk
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup Gooda cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

This camper uses a cast iron pot and a small charcoal grill but I will be adjusting this to be cooked over the fire. Heat up the pot and melt the butter along with the milk. Slowly whisk in a tablespoon of flour at a time to create the cheesy sauce. Once complete add in cheese mixture and pasta, top with extra cheese and bread crumbs, then let cook for 5 minutes and your mac and cheese is ready to go!

Camping Macaroni and Cheese

The Great Leftover Question

Leftovers are the figurative icing on the cake to the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving.  Turkey is wonderful cold in sandwich form, but here are a couple creative ideas for consuming your delectable poultry surplus (recipe ideas from allrecipes.com).

Turkey Nachos By: Gayle Lewis

Ingredients

– 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
– 3/4 cup salsa
– 1 cup cubed cooked turkey or chicken
– Tortilla chips

Directions

(1) Combine soup and salsa in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Stir in turkey; cook until heated through. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie By: Rob N

Ingredients

– 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
– 2 cups frozen green beans
– 1 cup sliced celery
– 2/3 cup butter
– 2/3 cup chopped onion
– 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
– 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
– 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
– 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
– 1 1/3 cups milk
– 4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat – light and dark meat mixed
– 4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Directions

(1) Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
(2) Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.
(3) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.
(4) Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
(5) Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.