Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Choceur Candy

Just have to give a little shout out to Aldi. I love the brands of candy I can get there and no where else, especially the ones I find that are imported for Austria or Germany. This brand is delicious! :) I recommend it to any chocoholic out there!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Drier's fresh bacon

Whenever we make a trip up to Three Oaks Michigan, our favorite away from home destination, we always stop in Drier's Meat Market. We almost always come home with some ham, some mustard and some bacon. The fresh bacon we get there tastes so much better than most of the store bought brands. I hate the way bacon splatters when it cooks, so hubby usually ends up on bacon duty. Sometimes he even takes it out and cooks it on the grill. It's good stuff no matter how you prepare it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grilled salmon is a great summer dish

I absolutely adore grilled salmon. And so does my whole family. And that's saying a lot. There aren't many entrees that all seven people in this family are crazy about. Fortunately, salmon is one of the few that they all like.

My younger boys like it plain. I love it with some lemon on top. I also added McCormick's Lemon Butter Dill sauce, which I really liked. I also topped it with my favorite homemade salsa and served it with some mixed veggies, garlic and olive oil couscous and green beans with slice almonds. It was a delicious and healthy meal that I can't wait to repeat.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Food at the Porter County Fair

While some people attend the fair for rides or games or entertainment or livestock buildings, the highlight for me is the food. Just way too many choices. Here's a glance at some of the food to be found at the Porter County Fair in Valparaiso, Indiana.

And this live statue was pretty cool...

This is what I had for dinner...from Mr. K's Chuckwagon. Steak bits, smashed baby red potatoes, grilled onions and peppers and a roll. $8.

Calumet Bakery's $10 birthday cake

Birthdays are rarely one day celebrations around here. My son was turning 10, so he had a party at Chuck E. Cheese with his friends, then a family barbecue last weekend. Then on his actual birthday, we had cake again. I wasn't up for baking one on his birthday and told him we'd run out to pick one up.

Instead of heading over to the local grocery store, we were right by the Calumet Bakery and so we stopped in there. They have some gorgeous cakes in there, but since we'd just had lots of cake two days earlier at the barbecue, I wasn't looking to spend $30 on a gourmet cake. I considered getting a variety of their $2.99 slices...they have a big selection of scrumptious cakes by the slice. Then the clerk pointed out that they had some small round ones (6 inches, I believe) and it was only $10. We only needed for it to feed 6 or 7 people and this was perfect and delicious. I've been pleased with everything we've ordered there and we've been going there for years.

I also have to say that I love the place because the owner has been wonderful when I've made requests for our military returning home or coming home on leave. I started a program at my kids' school called "Adopt-A-Soldier" almost 10 years ago where we'd send care packages to local members of the military during deployment. Sometimes when they came home or were here on a temporary leave, the soldiers would come in to visit the kids. When I knew one was coming, we'd try to have a little party and on a couple occasions I called the bakery to ask if they may be able to donate something. One year, the owner asked me for a picture of the soldier and made a beautiful cake with pictures of the soldier in uniform. He went way above and beyond in providing our cake, just as our soldiers do for us!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fingerehut Bakery

On a recent day at the Porter County Fair in Valparaiso, Indiana, I walked with the kids through the long corridor of fair food. They spotted these doughnuts in a tent for Fingerhut Bakery and begged for some. The bakery has locations in North Judson and Knox.

We tried one of those doughnuts on top with whipped cream and then also a danish. Compared to the prices of the other fair food, it was a bargain. $1.25 for a doughnut and to go with it a big 24 ounce can of sweet tea for $1.

Unfortunately, we are a long way away from their bakery locations, but if I ever find myself in that area, I'll be sure to pick up some of their yummy doughnuts.

Redd's Apple Ale

I like fruit infused into pretty much any beverage. I like water with lemon added. I add orange slices to my iced tea. I like strawberry or raspberry added to lemonade. I love berries or melon in smoothies. And when it comes to adult beverages, I really often like a fruity wine cooler over a glass or wine or a fruity beer (Wild Black Blackberry Lager is a favorite.) So, recently when I tried Redd's Apple Ale, I was a happy camper. It was apple cider meets light, mild beer. I'll be having this again this summer. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Black cherry and raspberry smoothie

I've written before that my son, who is now 10, likes to spend time in the kitchen. He says he wants to be a chef when he gets older and he does come up with some creative food concoctions sometimes. This afternoon he was in the backyard picking some raspberries. He asked if he could get the blender out and make a smoothie. I told him to go for it.

A few minutes later he brought me this. He told me he put a couple scoops of black cherry frozen yogurt in the blender with about 2/3 cup of milk, a handful of raspberries and a few black cherries. What a nice blend of flavors! I think he's onto something. :)

Green River Phosphate

On a recent day trip with my hubby to Southwest Michigan, we ventured out of our usual spot. We often visit the town of Three Oaks to walk around downtown and shop and visit an eatery for lunch. This time we went to nearby New Buffalo for a burger at Redamak's and a walk on the beach. Then we decided to head a little ways out to check out the town of Buchanan. Hubby had been through there before when taking one of the boys to scout camp and we always enjoy checking out little towns together, so off we went.

We stumbled across this adorable nostalgic soda shop in downtown Buchanan. There were pictures on the menu of what the place looked like half a century ago and not a lot has changed. The two of us split a sundae and then I was curious what a phosphate would taste like when I saw it on the menu for just $1.50. Turns out it is nothing more than a soda, but not pre-mixed. They add the flavoring behind the counter. So, I tried out a Green River Phosphate. And I closed my eyes and pretended it was 1957. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bass Pro Shops has a big selection for jerky lovers

My husband and all my boys are major carnivores. Personally, I prefer meat that requires refrigeration, but not the rest of the people living in this household. They love jerky and beef sticks and all that dried, dehydrated stuff. So, Bass Pro Shops is a good place for them to try out some new flavors. Of course, they also love all the camping and fishing and hunting and boating stuff. And I just go along for the ride. I do have fun, though, especially checking out the food items. Anyway, this was the new flavor they got on our last visit - Bacon jerky. Can't say I gave it a try, but seeing that it didn't last until the next day, I guess it was pretty good. :)

Mushroom, Onion, Cheddar Burger

Summer means lots of time spent grilling and lots of burgers. While I always like them best when they are made from fresh ground round or ground beef and formed before cooking, I do always keep a stock of frozen burgers in the freezer. I am quite picky, though. I don't grab the cheap, thin ones that are 80% lean or less that shrivel up into a thin little hockey puck.

I either order some from Market Day, which are good quality and a little thicker than most store bought frozen ones. I also get the store ones from Strack and Van Til when I go there. Sometimes they are already frozen when I buy them and sometimes I buy them raw and end up freezing them.

Anyway, here's an example of one of our summer burgers - a Market Day patty covered with Extra Sharp Cheddar, lettuce from the garden, mayo and some grilled onions and mushrooms. Oh, and a toasted bun is always a nice touch. This one is on a toasted Kaiser bun.

I had mine with a Hasselback potato on the side (with cheese, bacon bits, sour creams and fresh chives) and a glass of peach iced tea with fresh mint.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Aldi's Ice Cream Chocolates Fudge

Fudge isn't something you can usually pick up at a grocery store. When I have a hankering for a piece of fudge, I usually have to make my own, hit a faraway chocolate store or wait until I can visit a touristy place where they make fudge and sell it by the pound.

When I saw this at Aldi reentry, I had to buy it. It was a little over $3 and had 9 pieces in the box. Totally worth the splurge!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Upland Brewing Co. Wheat Ale

While customizing my own 6-pack among the different beer selections at Foodie's Market Cafe in Dyer, I selected a bottle from Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington, Indiana. I've become accustomed to wheat beer now, which at first I wasn't a fan of as it has a slight bitterness not present in your typical American beer. However, I've grown to like wheat beers, especially with a little wedge of orange. This got my seal of approval. If you're a fan of wheat beers, give it a try.

Scrambles make the best breakfasts

I'm not much of a breakfast eater. I'm usually not hungry when I first wake up. But...if I am going to have breakfast, my first choice is eggs. Scrambled eggs with meat and cheese in them. No cold cereal for me. Or oatmeal. Or doughnuts. Or pot tarts. If you really twist my arm, I might eat pancakes or waffles or French toast or a yogurt parfait. But the first choice is always eggs.

Sometimes I'll throw in a variety of veggies, but sometimes simple is good. This batch had a gob of shredded cheese blend and some ham served with sausage and an English muffin. Now...if someone served this to me every morning, I might be more of a breakfast person.

Blueberry sun tea

I make sun tea on an almost daily basis in the summer. When making a recent pitcher I pitched in some blueberries before it brewed. The tea had a hint of berry flavor that was quite a delight. Give it a try!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Burgers and hot dogs - summer barbecue classics

The most common meals to come off of a grill at a summer barbecue are hot dogs and hamburgers. My husband bought a used grill this spring that is double the size of our previous one and that he hooked up to a natural gas line. He is in his glory and cooking dinner on it several times a week. That's fine with me. I pick out the entree and give him instructions and I take care of the sides, beverages and dessert. We've been making lots of burgers and dogs.

Because this grill has so many burners, he's also using it as a warming device, turning off the burners on one side to keep meats hot after they are cooked. Here's a batch of burgers waiting to be eaten, toasted buns and all. These burgers had some sliced gouda on them. I am using American less and less these days.

As I side, I threw some fingerling potatoes in the microwave with some Italian flavored olive oil.

Hot dogs also demand toasted buns. And, yeah, I know, I know...I'm from the Chicago area and I'm putting ketchup on a dog! It's pretty much forbidden in these parts, but I'm tired of hiding it. I like ketchup on them and I'll face the disgrace.

Oh, and the burgers are best when dressed with garden condiments, like this garden-fresh lettuce!