Recipe book giveaway number 1!!

One of my most favorite wedding presents that I received was a handmade Cookbook binder from my brother. It was a three ring binder filled with page protectors and on the outside he had inserted food related cartoons  he had torn out from some of his favorite Calvin and Hobbes books. (that’s love right there let me tell ya!) He also filled it with some great recipes. It was an awesome gift to me, a new bride, who hadn’t done much more than cooking mac n cheese from a box before then! He knew I was gonna need all the help I could get! And you know what? After 12 years, I STILL have that cookbook, and it is STILL my main one I always turn to! I won’t post photo’s of it, as in 12 years of dedicated and faithful use its seen it’s share of spills and wear. But that’s why the page protectors are so great!none of the actual recipes ever got messed up! And It’s now also filled with with recipe clippings and recipes on scratch paper, and others of all different shapes and sizes. Another plus to this method of cookbook, you can use any size paper and not worry about loosing it! Even if it’s written out on a paper napkin! 😉 I still have all the original recipes that he added right in the beginning of the book.

So let me just stop for a min and say again ” THANKS JOHN! I LOVE IT! AND USE IT CONSTANTLY!”

Recently I combined my love of cooking with my love of Rubber stamping. (wait did I just say my love of cooking? the reluctant chef loves cooking? WOW I’ve come a long way!) anyway, I wanted to pass on the gift and share the binder cookbook idea with others! So I have whipped up some new handmade recipe binders to give away, complete with 20 page protectors to start you off, and I will also include in a few family recipes to get the ball rolling for you!


So here’s the first one that I am giving away. And I need to give it away soon or I’ll keep it!! I just love these colors! I’m hoping someone out there will too. This one is made out of pretty Purple and Aqua colors. It’s adorned with a really cute chef holding a cupcake (I had to put my love for cupcakes in there somewhere!



here’s a pic of both sides



I don’t think the winner will be dissapointed!

So the question is, would you like to have this recipe binder?

If so, and in celebration of Memorial day weekend , just leave me a comment and tell me what’s your favorite summer food? What are you looking forward to eating the most this summer? is it ice cream? corn on the cob? watermelon? what do you crave on hot summer days? For me I think it’s going to be grilled shrimp this year. I can’t stop craving it! A nice cool fruity drink sounds sooo good too! ok back to you, what does it for you in the hot summer months?? Be sure to leave me a way to contact you!

One entry per person please, if you’d like to be entered twice you may tweet the contest and link back to the blog post for a second entry  (my twitter name is Reluctant_chef) you must add me so I can see it!

Contest will end at Midnight Monday May 25th. (I’m giving it several days since I know many of us will be in and out doing fun memorial day activies and getaways (yours truely included 😉

Winner will be picked by a random number generator and announced on Tuesday May 26th

I have more on the way if purple and aqua don’t do it for you 😉





Broccoli Cheese Garlic Crossants, and the Winner!


THE WINNER:   First of all I am behind in announcing the winner of the Jewel Tone Measuring cups. The Winner is Jennifer Herring!   Yay! Congrats Jennifer, I will be in touch with you to get your snail mail addy to get these purty things off to you!  I learned a few things after this first give-away. First of all people love free stuff! I had more hits than I’ve ever had while running this contest. Second, measuring cups are a little boring. lol. Out of all the visits, not many people commented to participate.  And that’s ok! I know that a single set of measuring cups isn’t very sexy. So this little trial lets me know that people ARE out there reading and they want bigger and more excited prizes! Not to worry. I knew it would most likely go that way. I wanted to start off small to see what the turn out would be. Soooooo, more exciting giveaways coming soon! 😉


Now for today’s recipe.Today’s recipe is easy!!! Have you noticed I like easy yet? 😉  I must confess, I am running out of food in the house. We are going out of town this weekend and so I have put off grocery shopping and doing my best to scrounge up meals with whatever is left in the house. Lunches are the hardest for me. I’m not sure why. I guess I tend to lean toward lunches that don’t take much time or ingredients to prepare. And its getting Booooooring! I was soooo craving something that took more than two ingredients today. So I scrounged around in my fridge and found a lone can of croissants. This peaked my interest. I then found the remains of a bag of frozen broccoli. My tongue started to tingle! Oh whats that? Cheese? alright! We’ve got ourselves a meal! Lets go!


So I made Broccoli cheese garlic croissants. I don’t claim to be the first to ever try this, just think of it as a nifty reminder if you ever get the hankering for “complicated flavor but super easy to cook” !


let us begin……


First I steamed my broccoli in the microwave.



open a can of croissants and pull apart the pieces.  Lay out one piece on a plate



Spoon some of your cooked broccoli onto the croissant at the widest point



sprinkle on some cheese. Here I used a mixed blend



Go on, really dump it on 😉



Now at the widest end start to roll it all up. because of the heat of the cooked broccoli, the pastry will be soft and pliable and easier to pull over the broccoli



Place in a greased baking dish




Repeat process until all pastries are used. Now I almost stopped here, but I got to thinking, this needs something…



so melt you some butter and brush it all over the tops of each pastry



Now lightly sprinkle some garlic powder across the tops. Trust me!



Pop them in the oven for about 10 min at 350, until they are golden brown…..



LIKE THIS. oooohhh let me tell you the warm garlic butter smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. Not only did the garlic add so much to the taste, but it also provides a purty golden brown color on top. These would be great as hor’ derv’s for parties, as appetisers, or even a meal! (like I did 🙂  )


Now eat and enjoy!! I can not tell you how this deliciousness brought me to my knees today! It’s that mmmmm mmmmm GOOD! light, flaky, buttery cheesy, oooooooh!






Hope you will try it!




Spring Nests and A Giveaway!




Here’s a fun and easy recipes that the kids can help with! These are cute little Birds nests, great for spring or Easter! Oh and keep reading, the first giveaway is today!  But more on that later, lets get creating!





The Cast & Crew:

Marshmallow cream, creamy peanut butter, Chow Mein Noodles, Butter, Plain M&Ms, and Peanut M&Ms




Start with 1 cup of plain m&ms.  Admire how pretty they are.  Think about snagging one or two. Be thankful that there are more than one cup in a bag of M&Ms and help yourself to the bag.



Now with the 1 cup that you saved Chop each candy in half. If you’ve got yourself a nice sharp butcher knife its actually pretty easy to do.




This is what they will look like when when they are all chopped up. Its a good thing I don’t bleed chocolate. Set m&ms aside for now.



Now Scoop out a 7 oz jar of marshmallow cream. Try not to get it on you, boy is this stuff sticky. (isn’t my spatula purty?? I LOVE cooking with color!)



Dump all of  the cream into a mixing bowl



Now find a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Isn’t this one pretty? do you like it? Well read on. (do you see where this is going?)



Scoop  out 1/4 cup of Creamy peanut butter



and toss it into your mixing bowl as well.



And there it is, becomeing friends with the marshmallow cream. Hello cream, we’re going to be great friends!



Now melt 1 3/4 TBS of butter. Ya ya i know, it would have been easier if the recipe just called for two, but guess what! We get to MELT the butter instead of just softening it! which means when we put it in the microwave its OK when you forget about it and it melts completely! Umm wait, please tell me I’m not the only one that does that?? Alas the butter you are currently looking at was my second try (I really did forget the first one and it was boiling before I remembered it.) Sigh. its ok though, I ended up finding a use for it anyway, you’ll see later on.



Pour your melted butter into your mixing bowl



beat well until everything is mixed completely



like this.  well except for that sneaky peanut butter on the side who didn’t feel like making friends today.  He will be punished later.



Now get out your 2 1/2 cups of chow mein noodles. Good news! that actually equaled one can perfectly! Thank you Recipe Gods! (or whomever)



Pour chow mien noodles into your cream mixture



Now pour in your m&ms. hey no snagging, you still have the bag. Umm you still have the bag right? You didn’t eat them all already did you? DID YOU?? See my bag is right…..wait……… lets move on…



Now we are going to HAND mix everything together carefully. Some will break and thats ok. I forgive you. Its will be a little tricky at first to get it all mixed but it will get there.



You may stop when everything is evenly coated. You have my permission


Now grease up a pan with butter. I have no idea where this picture went. I think my camera ate it because I didn’t share the m&ms. Remember that first batch of butter that I “oopsed!” Well it had cooled off by now so I used some of that! Handy right? Yea I ment to do that! ha ha!

moving on…


Using a tablespoon scoop out some of the mixture and plop it on the buttered pan. You can also use wax paper instead of butter if you wish



NOW comes the messy Uhh I mean FUN! yea fun part!  Useing buttered hands (the other thing i was able to use my extra butter for!) Anyway, useing buttered (& CLEAN) hands, shape the drops of mixture into roung “nests” and put a dent in the middle of each one



So you have a pan that might look like this, well the nests anyway, maybe not so much the pan, yes its an old pan, but hey be nice, its been very good to me! They didn’t mean to  point and laugh at you pan, really they didn’t.



Now here is where you “lay” your eggs into your nests (snicker) ok maybe it was lame.  Take three of your peanut m&Ms and place them in the dents of each nest. you’ll need to work pretty quickly, as once the mixture starts to dry the M&Ms won’t stick well





Now you let them set to harden. Really you need to stick them into the fridge for a little while for that to happen. Personally I would store them in covered containers in the fridge until they are ready to be eaten. After they’ve been out awhile they soften and start to fall apart again.


And there you have it! cute little spring nests!

Well I hope yours ended up being cuter than mine anyway, lol.




In review, I think next time I might try things a bit differently. Though my kids adored them, I’m not much for all the chow mien, I would like to try it with broken up pretzel sticks next time, and maybe a little less marshmallow cream so that it would be a little more “brown” nests. However I am not sure it would even work with less, as it may not be enough cream to hold it all together. I’ll be sure to update this post if I ever do find out! Or feel free to let me know if you try it! 🙂



Ok ok now for the good part. Since you made it THIS far. See these cute measuring cups in their pretty jeweled colors and big bold measurements? I just love cooking with color! and Welllllll I happen to have a brand new set to give to one lucky reader!  So here’s the deal. This site gets a lot of readers, but you wouldn’t know it by the comments section. You can practically hear the crickets chirping in there! So lets liven things up. If you’d like a chance to win these fun pretty cups, just leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite m&m color is. See, easy , fun, and ya might win something! Be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner! The winner will be drawn with a randomizer and I will post the lucky winner on this site, and mail them to ya strait away! I know its a small prize, but it’s something fun to get us going since this is a pretty new site. I plan to have more giveaways in the future, and hopefully they will be bigger and better!  

so who’s in?? Contest will close at 9:00 PM CST on Saturday April 4th. So hurry!  🙂