Thursday, November 13, 2014


To me the whole point of the Ambassador program is to try new products and share the ones that work well.  Some products excite me more than others.  Reynolds is one of those brands that I can happily endorse.  From childhood I can recall that pink and blue box of Reynolds foil in my G'ma's kitchen.  My mother wasn't much of a cook and tended to shop by price rather than value, but even she had her Reynolds foil.  I was led astray as a young woman and bought store brands but soon realized the error of my ways and came back to Reynolds.

So I was excited to use  their Heavy Duty Foil to make up packets for fajitas, one contained the sliced, marinated meat and the other held the vegetables.  It was too cold to grill the day I made them so I used my oven.  This has to be one of the easiest meals I ever cooked and there was nothing to clean up!  I can imagine working moms assembling their packets and storing them in the fridge, ready to cook for a quick but complete dinner.  Then just tossing the used foil.  The recipe can be found here:

The Non Stick Foil made pizza and sausage rolls so easy too.  I have never been comfortable doing pizza on the grill but the foil allayed my qualms and worked perfectly.  Their recipe is here:

I have made sausage rolls before but not as easily as with the Non Stick Foil.  They will be made much more frequently with my new "trick" for making them.  Recipe is here:

Anytime I can find a short cut or a better way to do make meals simpler I am excited and I hope you are too.


I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with 

Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews by BigShotsMom. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of BigShotsMom.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Thank You Note to Barilla

Dear Barilla,

I am a member of the Allrecipes Brand Ambassador team and I manage the kitchen and food service for our local parish soup kitchen.

We have been doing outreach to our senior population and inviting them to join us for lunch to ensure they get at least one balanced, nutritious meal a day.  They may not need us from a financial perspective but the opportunity to socialize really brightens the days of the elderly.  We ask they pay what they can afford and some have been amazingly generous. This means I have a little more to spend.

During June and July the Allrecipes Brand Ambassadors worked with Barilla, a brand I have used since their products became available around here.  They provided a list of recipes you had developed for us to prepare and evaluate for the promotion .  As I started to select the ones I wanted I realized how well I could adapt several of them for the soup kitchen and serve cost effective, flavorful meals with eye appeal.

The first recipe:  is something I have been making since I first got married, but I never thought to add the red pepper which isn't overpowering, but really bumps this recipe up.

Next we had:  I did think this needed a bit more flavor than as written so I cooked the pasta a vegetables in chicken stock and added some minced garlic and herbs

We also enjoyed:  Again, I thought this needed a bit of garlic, but it looks so pretty and I costed it out and with the discounts we get from our supplier an adult serving cost less than $0.33!  Adding a salad and roll brought it up to $0.47.

And finally:  I did have to deviate slightly from the recipe, using some of the donated grated white cheese.  Let me tell you, the sauce is the star of this dish.

My family also enjoyed:  This is so easy and so tasty.  Equally good hot or cold.

And:  This wasn't on the list we were working from, but is one of my favorites.

Thank you for the opportunity to think "outside" the box for our clients and to try varieties of pasta I may have overlooked for my family!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Don't you just love it when someone shows you multiple uses for things you have always used just one way?  After I finish smacking myself for not thinking of at least some of them I feel like I have gotten a gift.  That is what happened this month with our sponsor, Reynolds Kitchens®.

They are not all about aluminum foil anymore, they make all sorts of nifty time savers for the kitchen, from waxed paper to crockpot liners.  But the one that impressed me the most and gave me an AHA! moment is their baking parchment, which I already used as a pan liner for baking.  If you visit their site you will learn some timesaving tricks too.

But the one that will be used most often in my kitchen is the new parchment sheets.  They are the size of a full sheet pan and lay flat immediately.  I no longer will flour my counter and have a mess to clean up.  Just open a sheet and roll pie crusts, knead bread or biscuits, even roll meatballs.  But my AHA! came when I realized that with a sheet of parchment and a few staples, I had made a custom size bread bag, perfect for transporting or keeping homemade bread.  No condensation forms like in plastic bags but the bread is protected from drying out.  Perfect!  My smaller aha! came when I removed the loaf of rye from the oven and realized the bottom crust was as crisp as the top without returning it to the oven, it had been baked on a parchment lined pan.  This will change my bread baking for sure.

There was fun there too.  We made great sugar cookies.

And an amazing snack mix


So, hustle on down to the store and avail yourself of this great time saver!


I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with 

Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews by BigShotsMom. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of BigShotsMom.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Heart healthy can also be delicious!  Our sponsor this month, Mazola Corn Oil, has posted a few recipes that fit both descriptions.  The first,, is slightly different take on an old favorite.  They added a spicy, slightly sweet rub that enhances the richness of the salmon.  That was a treat but then they added a grapefruit salsa, which I loved.  I did have to tweak the salsa because I bought such tart fruit.  When I tasted it I knew it would work with 2 small additions and time for the flavors to meld.  I added some lime juice and a bit of honey and it was perfect!  It is advisable for anyone taking statins for high cholesterol or blood pressure medication would be prudent to check whether the small amount of grapefruit would interfere with their medications.  I rounded the meal out with a kale salad and potatoes mashed with parsnips and got thumbs up all around.

Then we were treated to carnitas prepared by a new method.  I was skeptical but now I will be able to have carnitas for dinner even if I don't decide I want them until noon.  Once again the spice blend was unique and quite tasty.  This time the main ingredient in the salsa was raw tomatillo, diced tomato, and cilantro.  I did have to adjust the salsa since there were no fresh tomatillo to be found anywhere near here.  I made do by mixing some salsa verde I had put up last fall with sour cream to tame the spiciness. 

I have fed my family a diet that will help keep their hearts healthy since my father had a cardiac scare years ago.  We eat a range of fruits and vegetables and minimize the amount of meat and salt.  We all try to stay active, and don't smoke.  I love my family and do all I can to take care of their hearts.


I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with 

Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews by BigShotsMom. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of BigShotsMom.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Evolving Tastes

I have always eaten a fairly wide range of foods and been willing to try new things but there were a few I just didn't like.  Lima beans, dry beans, and most greens were things I managed to spend many years without eating and I will continue to pass on the lima beans because I still do not like them.  I have learned to eat black beans, red beans, kidney beans and chickpeas and actually enjoy them, while I can take or leave pinto beans.  There are certain greens I really enjoy such as spinach, beet greens, and chard and those like mustard greens or collards, for which I doubt I will ever acquire an appetite.  But I am learning that as I mature my tastes change and that simply trying a different preparation makes a big difference.

Kale was one of those greens that I didn't like.  I found the flavor harsh and the texture unappealing.  I saw a plate a friend had cooked that just looked so tasty and commented how I wished I liked kale.

   Chicken and Kale in Parmesan Cheese Sauce  -  just look at that gorgeous photo by Linda Trem!

Linda encouraged me to find baby kale and then another friend told me Earthbound Farms sells organic baby kale in supermarkets.  Why did it take so long to learn this?  I love baby kale so much that I have eaten it 4 times this week.

Tonight I wanted to use the last of it before it spoiled.  I looked at several recipes but none were just what I wanted with the cold snowy weather we've been having.  So I decided to wing it and make a soup.

          1 small onion diced
          3 cloves of garlic minced
          1 link of dry chorizo diced
          1 tbs olive oil
          1 qt chicken stock
          1/2 pkg baby kale

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the garlic and chorizo and cook until the chorizo softens.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Plunge the kale in the stock, stir, and reduce the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the kale is wilted.  Taste for seasonings.  If the stock is homemade it may be flavorful enough and the chorizo will add some salt as well as a rich, smokey flavor.  (Serves 2)   Add some crusty bread and you are all set.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

T'was the day after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love gathering family and friends to celebrate life's goodness with good food and conversation.  Things have been remarkably different for us over the last few years.  The "Holiday Hens", as my brother in law called us, have been disbanded.  One moving out of state, another simply retiring from the planning and execution of big gatherings.  Last year found me in a tent with other volunteers cooking turkey dinners on donated gas grills after Sandy ravaged our community.

This year marks a new era for our family Holiday traditions.  My eldest daughter decided she would like to host this year and her cousin, not to be outdone, has decided Christmas will be at her home.  We have a new brood of "Holiday Hens."  And so far, they have proved very capable.  All of which helps me since I have taken on responsibility for managing our parish soup kitchen and the holidays require extra attention from me.

The Allrecipes Ambassadors were asked to prepare a casserole made from leftovers and Kraft Foods products.  I kept looking at the recipe and thinking it could easily be adapted so I could serve a more festive meal to our vegetarian guests at the soup kitchen Thanksgiving dinner than the usual plate, stripped of turkey and gravy.

Since we would need about a dozen vegetarian meals we made two large pans, lining them with Stovetop Cornbread stuffing prepared with extra onion, celery and grated carrots.  We filled the cavity with chopped Portabella mushrooms, sautéed with garlic and onions and liberally sprinkled with shredded Kraft Italian blend cheese.  We topped this with mashed potatoes, piped into rosettes by one of our amazing staff and dusted with paprika.  After baking at 350F we presented our guests with as appetizing a meal as their carnivorous friends ate.

Thank you Kraft and WalMart for helping make this holiday a little happier for those in need.

Note: this is Kraft's photo as we do not permit photographs in the soup kitchen.


I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with 

Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews by BigShotsMom. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole opinions of BigShotsMom.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Musings on November - Part I

November is far from my favorite month.  The days become so much shorter unless you are a morning person, the weather is unpredictable day to day, but leading inexorably to the snow and cold of winter.  Personally, I much prefer May with its promise of summer.  But I am basically an optimistic person so I look for the good things November brings.

There are two holidays in November, which are intertwined for me and many others.  The first is Veteran's Day and it makes me sad that we have so much hoopla over Halloween and just sort of gloss over Veteran's Day as another money maker for retailers.  Originally called Armistice Day, it commemorated the end of WWI.  In 1954 President Eisenhower was instrumental in renaming it Veterans Day to encompass WWII and Korean War vets.  In 1971 some bureaucrat decided to tidy the calander and move holidays to make long weekends.  That seemed to be when the respect diminished.  Then we had the country's distaste for the Vietnam war and those vets just got shuffled along, out of sight, out of mind.  Fortunately, good sense prevailed in 1978 and it was moved back to November 11th to be commemorated in the US along with UK and Canadian Rememberance Day.

Several of the men in my family served our country, despite being the world's most unlikely warriors.  They did it because at the time, it seemed to be the right thing to do.  My son is the only one still living and with his usual, nonchalant attitude, doesn't see himself as anything special.  I disagree.  While ALL my children are special, he went halfway around the world to have people he never met try to kill him and he them.  I understand war in a philosophical sense, but my head and my heart do not - particularly when my first born is involved.  I want the world to spend part of just one day reflecting on what our Veterans have done for us and at what cost.

Instead of shopping the mall take those few extra dollars and make a donation to Wounded Warriors or Team Rubicon.  Thank you on their behalf.