January 31, 2007
When you think of family recipes, you usually have warm, fuzzy feelings coupled with memories of home, comfort food, and loved ones. However, most families have a few recipes that instantly ignite a smile and a funny story…
Last night my best friend Beth was telling me about cooking challenges she met when she dated and later married her husband Daniel. First, let me say that Beth is an incredible cook. If I need a recipe, I call her first! So, I was shocked to find out that Daniel was not an instant fan of her cooking. As the story goes, Beth made him White Bean Chili on one of their first dates. Daniel, who is not a fan of white beans, insisted on doing the cooking after that first meal because he was sure that her palate and kitchen skills were lacking…
Before I continue, I must add that Daniel is perhaps the most intelligent and sweetest person I know… although I’m not sure what to say about his cooking skills! In his bachelor days, he created several meals that he prepared for Beth in the early days of their relationship. Let’s just say this- these recipes are precious. Beth and I laughed hysterically last night as Daniel gave me the recipes for his special creations.
I am saving these recipes for the perfect occasion! One day Beth and Daniel will receive a Secret Ingredients cookbook full of favorite recipes, and in the mix will be Daniel’s Bachelor Recipes. The memories associated with these are priceless.
Here are Daniel’s Bachelor Recipes:
Green Pepper- Golden Raisin Burritos
Whole Black Peppercorns
Slice the green pepper into long pieces. Add to pan with olive oil, plenty of honey and raisins until warm. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter onto a tortilla. Add green pepper- honey mixture and sprinkle with whole black peppercorns.
Barbeque Sauce Soup
Sauté green peppers. Pour barbeque sauce in a bowl and add water, honey, and green peppers. Mixture should be soup consistency. Add almonds and let them soak until “soft & flavorful”.
and for Dessert….
Daniel’s Special Dessert
Chocolate Graham Crackers
Make a “caramel sauce” by heating butter and sugar. Lay Chocolate Graham Crackers in single row on layer of tin foil. Add a bunch of chocolate chips and pour “caramel sauce” over the grahams. Place in heated oven until “melty”.
Be sure to include funny stories and memories when you make your own cookbook. Secret Ingredients will walk you through the process of documenting these stories for future generations!
January 30, 2007
Doing a simple search for recipes on the Internet will bring you thousands of options. However, how do you find proven, delicious recipes? Bloggers! The best food and recipe bloggers have been writing for years, and most of them have many followers because their recipes are so good. To see my list of favorite blogs, scroll down the page and look for the list in the lefthand column.
Not only are food bloggers great because their recipes are reliable, but they include beautiful photographs of the final product along with special instructions or funny stories. Sometimes bloggers will list links of their favorite recipes in one blog entry. This is called a Recipe Roundup. Below I have listed some Recipe Roundups that may inspire some new creations in your kitchen!
Chocolate Obsession Recipe Roundup
Gluten Free Recipe Roundup
Cooking Light’s Oatmeal Recipe Roundup
Rebecca Write’s Christmas Recipe Roundup
Enjoy these yummy recipe roundups! Warning: The Cupcake Roundup will make you crave something sweet. I was drooling over the photos!
Keepsake Cookbookers remember that tomorrow is the last day for January’s 10% off promotion. Click here to see the previous post about this promo.
January 24, 2007
Cheers to Letterpop for offering a free newsletter service for families and individuals! Now you can make creative, beautiful newsletters to send your favorite people by email. Not only is the website easy to use, but they have templates for every occasion . They even have a template for a Recipe newsletter! This is the perfect way to communicate with your family about your Secret Ingredients cookbook project…
How does it work?
Go to Letterpop.com to sign up for a free account. The website will walk you through the process of uploading your favorite images and choosing your favorite template. All you have to do is add your photos and text to the template and press Send. Easy!
This is a great way to keep your extended family up to date throughout the year. I used it recently to send my friends recipes that we shared at our last recipe potluck.
To see examples of Letterpop templates, click here.
January 22, 2007
Did you know that Secret Ingredients will gladly transfer your Heirloom cookbook project to Keepsake for no additional fee? That’s right! Let’s say you want to make an Heirloom cookbook for a wedding gift for your niece, but you also want to give the women in your family the unique gift of a Keepsake Cookbook for Mother’s Day… We can help you!
All you have to do is enter your recipes once. If you would like to switch from Heirloom to Keepsake, just shoot us an email and we’ll be glad to help you. This way you can enter your recipes one time and make unique gifts for your loved ones to celebrate any occasion.
Also, if you are reordering Keepsakes cookbooks, you may choose a different cover each time you order! You may change your cookbook title to fit any occasion with each order.
Feel free to contact us with any questions: http://www.thesecretingredients.com/contact_us.php. You may also call us toll free at 866.697.3247.
It was a cold, gray weekend in Asheville, North Carolina (Secret Ingredients headquarters). Our team worked very hard last week to finish moving our offices and production facilities, and the good news is that we are up and running smoothly now!
I’m not sure if it was the weather or the move (or both!) that made me crave some home-cooked, warm food, but this weekend I got busy in my kitchen. I cooked enough food for an army! Butternut Squash Soup, Italian Wedding Soup, Authentic Italian Lasagna, and Spinach Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette Salad Dressing. I cooked so much that I wasn’t even hungry!
This week I will share some of these recipes with you. All of them are perfect for this time of year. Today I will give you the recipe for my new favorite salad dressing, Pesto Vinaigrette Salad Dressing. Ummm… talk about Green Goodness! This dressing is so good you’ll find yourself putting it on everything on your plate. I even tried it on spinach pancakes, and it was great!
Pesto Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not pre-grated)
1 1/4 cups olive oil
3 tablespoons Italian dressing (optional, but I highly recommend Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing)
Put everything in the blender, and blend until it reaches a uniform consistency. Serve on any salad you like! This makes a lot of dressing. If you’re trying it for the first time, you might want to half the recipe.
**Don’t forget that you we have a special offer for Keepsakes in January. Receive 10% off your family Keepsake Cookbook order by entering the promotion code “NewYear10″ at Checkout. Offer expires on January 31, 2007.
Enter to win a FREE Keepsake Cookbook in January! Tell us your favorite recipe story and you may be our lucky winner. Click here for details. With Secrret Ingredients making your own cookbook has never been easier!
January 19, 2007
It seems as though we are barely getting the Christmas lights off the front porch by the time retailers roll out their Valentine’s fare. Just the other day, I saw a shopping cart filled with half-off Christmas candy next to an aisle bedazzled with shiny red and pink chocolate-filled hearts. Is there no stopping the holiday rush?
Valentine’s Day is no comparison to Christmas when it comes to gift-giving, and that is what makes this holiday so sweet. The smallest gestures of love go a long way on February 14. Here are some of my favorite Valentine gift ideas:
Share the food of love. It’s been estimated that over a billion dollars is spent on Valentine’s Day cards alone. Imagine how much more is spent on candlelit dinners out! You can soften the blow to your wallet by dining in on Valentine’s night. It’s perfect – you don’t need a reservation; there’s no wait or noisy table neighbors; and you can sweeten the deal by actually cooking dinner yourself (or together). Spending time to cook for a loved one is far more special than dining out. And, if you’re truly a menace behind the stove, you can order in.
Create a recipe for love (or a whole cookbook). Gather some of your sweetheart’s favorite recipes and create a cookbook, like a scrapbook. Or, start a Valentine’s Day tradition by trying a new recipe at home each year. Add each year’s new recipe to a personalized cookbook and you’ll have an entire recipe book of love to pass down to your children.
Roses aren’t the only flower out there. Yes, roses are considered to be the traditional Valentine’s Day gift. This is why their prices skyrocket the second week in February. Think outside the dozen-roses-box and select a new flower for your sweetheart. Find out what her favorite flower is (if it’s not the rose) or venture into your wedding album and choose a bud from her bouquet (take the pictures to the florist if you’re not sure). If you must buy roses, consider the source. Supposedly Latin American roses have bigger blooms, while domestic roses smell sweeter.
Give your sweetheart an I.O.U. Or, give them a whole book of them. Pick up a small notepad from your local dollar store and create a packet of coupons for your sweetheart. Include anything from a “get out of doing dishes” coupon to a voucher for a back rub or special night out. Be creative and keep in mind the most important part of this simple and virtually free gift: you HAVE to honor the coupons when they are tendered!
Take a picture perfect trip down memory lane. Digital cameras are great for taking hundreds of photos that will live on your computer forever. Go through your collection and choose some favorites from over the years. Most photo processing centers, such as CVS (www.cvs.com), have online services where you can upload images from your computer to be printed and picked up at the store. Include non-digital prints that date back a little further and put them all together in a little photo album.
Leave a note. Love letters are often made out to be well-crafted, poetic musings of the heart. They don’t have to be! A simple sticky note on the steering wheel of your sweetheart’s car is enough to brighten his or her day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, skip the old Valentine’s Day card route and write down the things you love most about your sweetheart, or write about a favorite memory you share. E-mails count, but having something to hold on to is twice as nice on Valentine’s Day. Go the extra mile and actually use your handwriting skills (they’re probably rusty from typing e-mails the last five years!)
Spread the love. Valentine’s Day does not have to be a stressful or over-gifted holiday, nor is it a holiday only to be shared between sweethearts. Parents, friends and other relatives are prime targets for cupid’s arrow. Buy a packet of kids Valentine’s cards (like the ones you handed out in school) and send them by mail (you may need to use another envelope). Not only will it bring back memories of grade school, but it will let the people in your life know you care.
Don’t stress over the “perfect” Valentine’s gift this year. Trust me; it’ll be the small, heart-felt gestures that your sweetheart, family, and friends will remember.
January 15, 2007
If you are like me and my family, your recipe collection is always growing! Secret Ingredients has the perfect solution for your growing recipe collection: The Expandable Heirloom Cookbook.
How does this work?
Our Heirloom Cookbooks hold up to 250 recipes inside a beautiful “kitchen-friendly” leather binder. The 3-ring binder makes it possible for you to add recipes at your convenience.
Simply start your Heirloom Cookbook project today. Enter a minimum of 45 recipes along with your favorite photographs of family, friends, and food. We’ll build a beautiful cookbook for you in just 14 business days.
To make your cookbook expandable, send our team a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you want an expandable cookbook. When your cookbook goes to production, we will remove the page numbers from your recipe pages so that you can add recipes to any category in the future.
When you want to add a recipe to your collection, simply send us an email with the recipe and your order number. Each recipe addition is only $3. We’ll format the recipe to look like the rest of your book and send it to you quickly!
This is the perfect solution if you are making a cookbook for your mother for Mother’s Day, and you only have some of her favorite recipes!
January 12, 2007
We are very excited to announce that you can make your own cookbook no matter where you live! Starting today, Secret Ingredients can process international orders automatically. Whether you are making a cookbook with your friends in Italy or your family in France (ooh, think of the recipes!), everyone can join in! So, gather your friends and family members in other countries and start your group cookbook project today…
Don’t forget our January Special. Receive 10% off your Keepsake Cookbook order by entering the promo code “NewYear10″ at Checkout. Offer expires January 31, 2007.
January 10, 2007
My best friend, Beth, is an amazing cook and is very generous with her recipes. If I am looking for a new recipe or idea, I know who to calll! A few weeks ago, I was looking for a yummy, warm soup recipe, and she offered this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. I love it so much that I’ve actually made it twice in the last two weeks! Don’t forget the nutmeg….
Easy Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, large and preferably a long (as opposed to fat) one.
1 1/2 cans light coconut milk (or 2/3 can light coconut milk and an equal portion of skim milk)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 yellow onion, large
2 tablespoons butter
nutmeg for decorating
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. You may need help…at least someone very, very strong or, as Beth notes jokingly, a chainsaw! Be careful of your fingers.
Scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub the squash with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and sprinkle with salt. Roast the squash cut-side-up on a cookie sheet for at least an hour at 375. Roasting it for a long time gives the squash a lovely, complex caramely flavor. It should look like this, and a butter knife should go in very easily:
While the squash is roasting, slice and saute the onion in the remaining tablespoon of butter, and when it is soft, add the brown sugar and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
When the squash is finished, scoop the flesh out with a spoon, and put it in your blender. Add the onion/brown sugar mixture. Add the coconut milk. Blend until smooth. If your blender is small, you may need to do this in batches.
Just heat and serve! This soup is incredible with a sprinkling of nutmeg, and is very rich and subtly sweet and flavorful without being heavy on sugar carbs, and while being naturally rich in fiber and beta carotene! It also freezes well.
January 9, 2007
I apologize for my absence on the SI Blog over the last month. Isn’t the Holiday season wild? While I really did miss blogging, the SI team and I enjoyed a wonderful and busy Holiday season helping our community create cookbooks. It was such a joy to help families make such meaningful and thoughtful gifts to give their loved ones.
Maybe it’s just me, but after the Holiday season each year I get into major nesting mode! I like to organize my home and office and re-evaluate my priorities, goals, etc., for the new year. It’s so refreshing to start the new year knowing exactly what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year!
I also realized in my 2007 planning that this is the perfect time to re-evaluate my family traditions and to decide on some projects to celebrate my family ties and loved one during the new year. For example, I decided that I would write my niece and nephew a long letter at each holiday this year. I also decided that I would send my mother and sister my new favorite recipes every couple of months, so that we can continue to expand our collection together!
What are your goals for 2007? If you are looking for a great family project to look forward to, consider making your family cookbook in 2007! U.S. News & World Report agrees! They included “Write Your Family Cookbook” in an article titled “50 Ways to Improve Your Life” in their Dec. 25-Jan. 1 issue.
Speaking of exciting events & ideas for 2007, Secret Ingredients has many things for you to look forward to:
- January Special: Get 10% off your Keepsake Orders in January! Simply enter the promo code “NewYear10″ at checkout for your discount.
- Win a FREE Keepsake in January: Enter our contest for your chance to win a FREE Keepsake cookbook! Click here for details.
- Wedding Keepsakes are coming March 1! These books are the perfect gift for your bridal party or guests. You will have a choice of six color options to match your celebration perfectly! Email us if you have questions.
Please let our team know how we can help you make 2007 memorable!
Also, remember that you may reorder your Keepsake and Heirloom cookbooks at any time. You may choose a new Keepsake cover and edit your title with each new order, so the books you made for Holiday gifts may be recreated for your family reunion this year. Also, if you would like to transfer your Heirloom recipes to create Keepsake cookbooks (or vice versa), we are happy to help.