Tara Bench

Home Baked Comfort Giveaway: Best Cookbook Ever! (she never says that…)

January 12, 2012 at 8:00 am , by

Before you read further—you should post a comment below to enter to win a copy of this super amazing cookbookHome Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw, (we featured it in the February issue of LHJ).

After many years cooking professionally I’m pretty skeptical about cookbook recipes. Sure, I have favorite chefs and authors that I love, but for the most part I rarely find 100 percent success with cookbook recipes. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of cookbooks—truthfully I’m thinking about how my collection is getting unruly (hoarder level perhaps). But when I cook from these lovely books, there’s usually some tweaking I have to do with amounts, flavors or cooking times.

Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist or have high expectations, but when I try a recipe I want it to work! Call me crazy.

I love Home Baked Comfort, the beautiful images, the variety of baked goodness, the perfection that happens each time you try a recipe…you get the idea.

Oh, I also failed to mention I love pretty much any baked good that’s put in front of me, so again, Home Baked Comfort sort of works for me on that level as well. It’s also fun to see contributors from bakers all across the country. Even bloggers like the talented Smitten Kitchen and the amazing Bakerella (see our Q&A with her here) have tasty treats inside.

I think, of the recipes I’ve tried so far the Lemon-Blueberry Drizzle Bread and the Homemade English Muffins are my favorite. However the Bacon-And-Egg-Breakfast Tarts and the Gooey Cinnamon Rolls (with a touch of orange, mmm) were darn close. And not to be left out, homemade toaster tarts anyone? (Check out the video!)

Even if you don’t win one in our giveaway, you’ll want to own this cookbook.

Love,
Your friendly food editor

Full contest rules.


Behind the Scenes at The Pioneer Woman’s Ranch

January 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm , by

Ree Drummond (the voice and talent behind The Pioneer Woman) invited us to stay at her lodge when we visited to film LHJ‘s fantastic cooking videos (watch the first one here). The lodge — the Pioneer Woman’s second home on her ranch — is a 20-minute drive from the nearest tiny town. And if you try mailing something from there . . . well, you can’t. It’s sort of in the middle of nowhere!

Ree says she’s woken up to cows outside her door on the porch, so when I woke up at sunrise in one of the guest rooms I was hoping for just that experience. It didn’t happen, but I did look out onto a most beautiful view of the Drummonds’ Oklahoma ranch, with working barns, horses grazing and cows in the field . . . where they actually belong.

Ree is beautiful and sweet. We had a lovely time with her at the ranch and, yes, ate a lot of delicious food! Click here to see a slideshow of what went on behind the scenes. And remember to check back each month for a new cooking video from Ree!


How To Reform Your Picky, Junk Food Eater

August 26, 2010 at 6:50 am , by

p_101363623It’s so green. I hate vegetables. I want meatballs, only!  Does any of this sound familiar? Then you may be one of the many mothers out there who think pleasing the picky eaters at your table is next to impossible. And, be assured, there are lots of you.  In fact I just spoke to TV stations across the country – from Atlanta, to Kansas City, to Salt Lake City – to share the good news:  every picky eater can be reformed! Here are a few great tips to turn “eww ” into “mmm” in healthy and budget-friendly ways.

Try new, healthier varieties of old favorites. Kids are more likely to dismiss something because it looks foreign to them. A great trick is to replace foods they already eat with the whole grain variety. Chef Boyardee, for instance, now offers some of its most popular pastas in whole grain, so you can serve up a wholesome meal that includes protein, a full serving of vegetables and now whole grains.

Make meals look mini. Smaller serving dishes or bowls are a great illusion.  Kids will think there’s less of a particular serving and it makes it more manageable, when in reality the bowl might just be deeper or the meal piled on.

Decorate your food. Think about throwing a bit of shaved cheese on top of the meal.  It can help divert attention from what the cheese is supplementing, and add flavor.

Get kids involved in preparation. Kids are more likely to eat something they’ve helped prepare. Set them up with small tasks, like peeling or measuring (or shaving that cheese!). Cooking with kids teaches them a skill, gets them invested in their meal, and is time well-spent together. Also, let them have ownership over some of their food decisions.

Make snacking smart, healthy and fun. It’s tempting to go for the cookies and sweets for that after school snack, but that can make kids hyped-up on sugar and too full for dinner.  Try to offer snacks that pack in protein and flavor like Sabra Hummus’ 2 oz servings paired with SunChips multigrain snacks (18 grams of whole grains per serving) or Tostitos Scoops (8 grams per serving). The dipping and scooping add an element of activity to these perfect sized snacks.

Don’t break the bank.  Remember that eating healthy doesn’t have be a financial burden. In fact, the free site ShopAtHome.com has the largest collection (over 1,200!) of printable grocery coupons, as well as coupons to your favorite restaurants and even free products samples.

If you have a picky eater, what are some of your tricks?


The Official Duncan Hines Cupcake of the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards

August 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm , by

Ah to live like the stars…Well you can definitely indulge like the stars by eating the very same cupcake they will be dining on at this years’ Primetime Emmy Awards Performers Nominee Reception. It’s a mouthful, but sounds so swanky!

Duncan Hines became the official dessert sponsor of the Emmy’s and created a cupcake contest. The online Duncan Hines Red Carpet Cupcake Challenge winner was Katie Rousonelos of Madison, WI. Congrats Katie! She won a trip for two to Los Angelos to attend the Fans in the Stands red carpet event. Lucky!

The top 10 finalists baked their way to the final judging in New York City where 5 judges (myself included!) devoured and critiqued the delicious creations. Our winner was the Red Carpet Glamour cupcake with a raspberry flavored cake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with cream cheese icing and fresh raspberries. It…was a winner! Check us out here in our judging glory!
Make the winning recipe yourself and check out all the top 10 recipes (there are so many great ones!). You’re sure to feel like a TV star! Catch the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards this Sunday (August 29th) on NBC.

Top 10 cupcakes!

Categories: Ladies' Lounge | Tags: | 2 Comments


Food Of The Week: Popcorn, Indiana Bacon Ranch

July 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm , by

Nothing is wrong with popcorn, bacon or ranch dressing.

Thank you Popcorn, Indiana for putting them all together!

Delicious Popcorn!The Bacon Ranch popcorn was an office favorite this week. Just the right amount of flavoring made this the perfect savory snack. Now only if our snack drawer had an endless supply!

Get a 6-bag box online at PopcornIndiana.com or grab a bag as you wander around Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Tell us what your favorite flavor is!!


Do Good With Botox

June 3, 2010 at 9:36 am , by

We all know a simple act of kindness can go a long way—so what if I told you $25 would be donated to charity on your behalf, just by filling out a no-strings-attached profile online? It’s really that easy! That was just the thought behind Allegan’s BOTOX® Cosmetic My Expressions of Kindness campaign.

Share your act of kindness (by filling out that simple profile) and $25 automatically goes towards the $250,000 total that will help support the causes of three outstanding organizations. Tweet or Facebook the campaign (the site tells you how) and an additional $5 is donated, for a total of $30.

Didiayer Snyder from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition shows off her before and after!

I happen to be a fan of Botox treatments (I get just a little above my eyebrows to prevent the pesky vertical lines that look like an “11”).  I realize that admitting I use Botox will not garner the attention Cindy Crawford did when she was so forthcoming—but like her,

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Kitchen Safety–You can’t just yell “Fire!”

June 2, 2010 at 9:26 am , by

Last week we were in the LHJ Test Kitchen developing a recipe for some delicious little chicken patties (to be seen in an upcoming issue of the mag). I asked our lovely and talented intern, Emily, to prepare them for the broiler—but didn’t specify to brush oil on the actual patties—so she brushed the foil-lined baking sheet with plenty of olive oil and placed the patties onDSC02394 top. Into the broiler they went.

I began to make a few notes on the recipe and looked up to see black smoke shooting through the vents! The oil had caught on fire.

Emily and I looked at each other in panic. We opened the oven and flames rushed out towards us. All my kitchen-safely knowledge started swirling in my brain—but it was all a bit jumbled in the moment.

“Do we do something with baking soda?” I asked Emily. “Where’s our fire extinguisher?” Uhm…I can’t believe I just admitted I didn’t know where the extinguisher was! (We in fact have a very accessible fire extinguisher in the test kitchen, but thank goodness we didn’t need it). I reached through the smoke to turn off the broiler… Read more


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