The Kitchen Prep: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagna Rolls with Dofino Gouda Cheese Sauce

Are you all Halloweened out yet?

Because I feel like Halloween has been going on It could have something to do with the fact that I've been browsing some amazingly creative ghoulish goodies for weeks now. I have to admit that, despite my recent proclamation of my disinterest in the holiday, I've been inspired by all of the fabulousness out there on blogs, in magazines, on Facebook, and Pinterest...

{You even got me to make more than one Halloween inspired treat. You're good.}

So, ok... I guess I sort of enjoy the non-scary parts of Halloween. It can be kinda fun. And alarmingly sugar-filled.

My teeth hurt just thinking about it all. I see you dentists out there dancing a little jig in your offices...

While we're giving our molars time to recover from the assault, let's set aside the fun size chocolate bars & candy corn and eat some veggies.

And cheese.

I think I'd be perfectly content with trading my Halloween loot for cheese. I know that's a little abnormal, but I may just love cheese more than chocolate if you can believe it.

This little creation I thought up is a really fun use of all that pumpkin puree you've stashed in your pantry this fall. It might even be the perfect power-up meal for all the trick-or-treating that will be taking place tonight.

It's filling enough to keep you from snacking on candy between knocks at the door, warming enough to keep the autumn chill in the air at bay, easy enough to whip up while your little goblins run around the house on a sugar high, and whimsical enough to get a thumbs up from every family member.

Plus, it's swimming in Dofino Gouda cheese sauce. Let's be real, nobody is going to turn that down. Not even picky pirates & princesses.

Wishing you a safe & sweet Halloween!

Pumpkin Lasagna Rolls with Gouda Cheese Sauce

For Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 heaping tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk, preferably warm
4 oz. Dofino Gouda cheese, grated {Close to 1 1/2 cups}
salt to taste

For Rolls:

8 lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped {or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme}
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4- 1/2 cup extra cheese for sprinkling

Make Sauce:

1. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. Whisk in flour until there are minimal lumps and cook for 1-2 minutes, but do not brown.

2. Slowly add warm milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a bubble until slightly thickened, about 4-6 minutes.

3. Add grated Gouda cheese and whisk in until melted and smooth.

4. Season to taste with salt and set aside over low heat until ready to use.

Make Rolls:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 glass baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Cover a large cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray {this will help the noodles not to stick to the foil}. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook lasagna noodles until al dente. {Remember, they will be baked also and you don't want them to get too mushy.}

3. Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and cook onion and thyme until softened and just beginning to turn golden.

4. Remove from heat and place sauteed onion in a medium bowl. Add ricotta, pumpkin puree, and egg, and salt, and mix together until well incorporated.

5. Ladle about half of the cheese sauce into prepared glass baking dish and spread out over the bottom.

6. When noodles are finished cooking, carefully remove from water and place each noodle on prepared baking sheet.

7. One at a time, scoop about 2 tablespoons {or more if you can fit it without overflow} of pumpkin/cheese mixture onto each noodle and spread evenly over length of noodle.

8. Roll each noodle up from the short end and place, seam side down, in baking dish with sauce. Repeat until all noodles are snugly in place.

9. Pour remaining cheese sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with extra grated cheese, and cover baking dish with foil.

10. Bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.

11. Remove from oven and uncover. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until the top begins to brown and the edges are bubbly and golden.

Disclosure: This is a post written for Dofino Brand cheese. Though I have been compensated for this post, I only feature brands I personally use, enjoy, and recommend. As always, the opinions here are all my own. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Whoopie Pies

I'm just warning you before you start reading and wonder, "What the heck is she going on about?!" --I have a bunch of unrelated things I want to talk about and no real way to connect the thoughts, so I'm not even going to try.

Just go with it.

1. First things first - East coast friends who are hunkering down for Hurricane Sandy... stay safe. I am thinking of you and hoping for the best! And in case the storm zaps your power but not your appetite, here are some recipes that don't require electricity. {Some are a bit questionable, but you do what you gotta do.}

2. My Gators. Don't even mention it. Ugh.

3. If you haven't had a chance to check out the latest Willow Bird Baking Challenge results, do yourself a favor and hop over to Julie's page. There are some amazing filled cupcakes going on over there. {And my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Caramel-Pear Butter Filling and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Frosting are among them. Holy Fall flavor explosion, Batman.}

4. For the next challenge, I need to make a cheesecake that represents ME. Um. Cool. Except I don't have the slightest idea where to begin. Thoughts? Ideas? Can you tell me what represents me?! Help!

5. Fall has finally arrived {for now} in South Florida. It was in the 50's this morning. I just about rolled around in a pile of printed scarves like a cat on a catnip-high. So excited.

6. I'm highly considering dressing like this permanently.

This was my Halloween costume for the party we attended over the weekend. I made my husband dress up like "The Milkman" and we gave him a {faux} black eye and {real} lipstick stains as if he was caught red handed.
Gotta keep it creative!
6. I made you these. Because I love you. And because I don't think it's fair that kids get to have all the sugar fun.
I brought these puppies over to the Halloween party I mentioned and watched as, one by one, my friends asked what they were, took their first bite, and made "that face". You know what I'm talking about. That look that comes over someone who is in seventh heaven.
I think they liked them.
These Chocolate Caramel Crunch Whoopie Pies are my Halloween treat for you. Because you spent the week hunting high and low for the perfect costume for your little one; bought 18 bags of Halloween candy {and already polished off 3 by yourself} for the trick-or-treaters that will be knocking on your door this week; spent hours adhering edible tarantula legs to the cupcakes going to your child's classroom party; watched Hocus Pocus for the 112th time this month {I'm not going to lie, I've watched it twice. By myself.}
Or, if you didn't have to do any of the above... just because you deserve it.
They're inspired by Nestle's 100 Grand candy bars that I coveted as a kid and still love as an adult, and also by this cake from the fabulous Martha. Except, I snuck in a little booze with some homemade Bourbon Caramel.
Let your kids keep the peanut butter cups this year. Make some of these for yourself.
Chocolate Caramel Crunch Whoopie Pies
Inspired by Martha Stewart, Cake recipe adapted from Epicurious
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two large baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

3. Combine buttermilk, vanilla, and coffee in a separate small bowl.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.

5. Add egg and beat until fully combined.

6. Pour in about 1/3 of the dry mixture, mixing until just incorporated, then pour in half of the buttermilk mixture. Continue this process, alternating between wet and dry until it is all added.

7. Using a small scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons for smaller pies like the ones I made} or a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip, scoop or pipe batter onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

8. Bake for 11-12 minutes until set. {Tops should spring back when lightly touched.}

9. Remove from oven and let cool on a baking rack.
For the filling:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups marshmallow fluff
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2-2 cups confectioners' sugar {will depend on consistency you prefer}

1. Beat all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixture until smooth and creamy.

2. Place in a piping bag with a plain round tip. Set aside until ready to fill pies.
For the crunch:
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup puffed rice cereal such as Rice Krispies

1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

2. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute on high {at 30 second intervals}, until smooth and melted.

3. Pour in rice cereal and stir until fully coated.

4. Spread onto prepared pan and smooth into a thin layer.

5. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes until fully set. Remove and break into small pieces, or chop with a sharp knife.

Set aside until ready to assemble pies.
For the caramel:
I used this recipe for Whiskey Caramels, but used bourbon instead, and only cooked the caramel to about 236 degrees so that it would remain a sauce instead of hardened candies. You can also buy storebought caramel sauce if you don't want to make your own.

Fill a small zip top plastic bag with cooled caramel, and snip a small hole in the corner to use as a piping bag.


1. Pipe filling in a circle around the edge of half of the whoopie pies. {Leave a small well in the middle for caramel, it'll help keep it from running out.}

2. Fill wells with caramel sauce, allowing some to overflow from centers onto top of filling if desired.

3. Pipe a thinner layer of icing onto remaining whoopie pie halves. Sprinkle chocolate crunchies onto filling or dip into a bowl of chocolate crunchies to adhere.

4. Top caramel filled halves with crunchy topped halves to form little sandwiches.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Pink Ribbon Pretzels

Has this month just flown by, or what? {Michael's was setting up their Christmas aisle displays when I popped in last week... slow it down, people!}

I think October is one of those months that zooms by because it is bursting at the seams with so many things to celebrate: the changes of Fall, Oktoberfest, Halloween, and the return of Pumpkin Spice everything! 

As I've mentioned, I've had a hard time keeping up with posting about all of the October-related events and recipes, but before the month is officially over and we're onto the next holiday, there's one more important event to tend to: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I know I keep it pretty light around here with recipes and goofiness, but I thought I'd share a little something personal. Next month, my family and I will be celebrating our own special event: The one year anniversary of the end of my Mom's treatment for breast cancer.

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2011. It was a scary time for all of us for obvious reasons. The diagnoses of any illness brings about a lot of anxiety and uncertainty - How serious is it? How do we begin to treat it? What reaction will the person have to the treatment? Will the illness return?

Fortunately, my Mom's cancer was detected early {she has always been very good about check ups and screenings} and she underwent treatment like a champ. She had both chemotherapy and radiation, both of which she endured without most of the major side effects that we feared. And while cancer most definitely left mental and emotional scars on all of us, we were thrilled to see her be able to close that chapter upon receiving her final treatment last November.

I always suspected it before, but after her ordeal it was pretty certain that my Mom is, indeed, a superhero. ;)

Today, thanks to her doctors, prayers, and the Lord's healing, she is healthy and cancer-free.

It is alarming how many women of all ages I know personally or know of that have also fought their own battle with breast cancer. It is a disease that claims far too many precious lives, and causes heartbreak and turmoil for all involved. And while it is frustrating that there isn't much we can do about the damage cancer has already caused to so many out there, we can take away some of its power by educating ourselves and others about prevention & detection.

When my Mom was going through her trials with cancer, I cooked and baked to keep my mind off of the negative. I remember actually baking a King Cake last year as she recovered from her lumpectomy on the couch in my living room. {Leave it to me!} And as she was getting ready to finish up her treatment, I was spending hours in the kitchen passing the time with Fall baking and planning Thanksgiving goodies {though we wound up not really celebrating Thanksgiving last year... when it rains, it pours}.

Today I'm sharing a recipe that isn't meant to help us forget, but rather, that is meant to serve as a reminder - of my Mom's spunk, of all that's been overcome, of the journey that's lead us to where we are today.

It's a symbol of strength for those who are weakened by the grip of this illness; of support for those who are standing by loved ones as they fight; of community for those who are feeling alone as they wage their own wars.  It's a remembrance of those who are dearly missed; a salute to those who are giving it their all to stay here with us; a medal for those who have emerged victorious.

It's a reminder that we are united - bound together by the common bonds of love and hope.

All of those things tied up in one little pink ribbon.

Sometimes we need those reminders.

I'm glad to be baking today as a celebration instead of a distraction. And I pray that one day the pink ribbon will simply be a memory of something that no longer exists.

Pink Ribbon Pretzels
recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

For Pretzel Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons {1 packet} instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted butter
Approximately 1 cup warm water

For Dipping Solution:

1 cup water, heated
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar

Topping Options:

Kosher or sea salt
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted
Pink Candy Melts

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all pretzel dough ingredients. {Add water slowly until a soft dough forms, you may not need all of it. Or, if dough looks a little dry, add a tablespoon or two more water.}

2. Knead {by hand or by machine} for 5 minutes. Allow to rest and rise in a warm, dark place for 30 minutes.

3. Prepare dipping solution: Combine 1 cup hot water with 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. {Note: It will fizz, make sure you use a large enough cup so that no bubbling over occurs.} Pour into a small {8x8} pan and let cool.

4. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope {about 16 inches}. Cut rope in half. Roll each of those ropes into about 12 inch lengths. Twist each length of dough into a ribbon shape. {If you'd like larger pretzels, make your ribbons with 16 inch rope instead.}

7. Dip each dough ribbon through water/baking soda solution, shaking off excess, and place onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

8. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter {give them a good bath!}. Return to oven for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven & let cool.

**At this point, the pretzels are warm & delicious, and you could certainly eat them this way.**

10. If desired, cool pretzels and drizzle with melted pink candy melts to make your pink ribbons.

Makes 8 large ribbon pretzels or 16 small ribbon pretzels.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tailgate Thursday: Georgia Edition!

This weekend is going to be an exciting one in Jacksonville. It's the annual Florida-Georgia game, also known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party to those who take part in the insanity fun.

As a college student, I attended Florida-Georgia twice. I can attest to the fact that Jacksonville during that weekend, specifically at The Landing {a large shopping and dining complex that becomes the hub of the event}, is sheer madness.

College students + fans of opposing teams + copious amounts of alcohol + Halloween weekend = One hot mess.

But it's tradition.

And as we know, tradition reigns supreme in the South. {Though I don't think you could pay me to do it again. At least not in the same way that we did back then.}

So, in honor of THE Cocktail Party, I'm featuring the Georgia Bulldogs for today's Tailgate Thursday.

1. Georgia Bulldog Cocktail by Haute Cocktail , 2. Georgia "Caviar",
3. Bourbon-Peach Turnovers, 4. Cherry Keyhold Dress - Twelve Saturdays
The theme for this Georgia menu? Cocktail party, tailgate style!

We certainly can't have a cocktail party without... well, a cocktail! This week, Carla sent over a recipe for a drink she called the Georgia Bulldog Cocktail - a sweet mixture of vanilla vodka, peach schnapps, and Coke. {Which is pretty appropriate since the Coca-Cola headquarters is in Georgia, not to mention the fact that Georgia is famous for its juicy peaches.} I made mine with Sprite because I forgot to by Coke at the store, and it was still fabulous.

A fancy party calls for caviar... in this case, Georgia "Caviar"! Not to worry if fish eggs and football don't sound like a great combo to you -- this "Caviar" is more like a flavorful black eye pea salsa with just the right amount of heat from some diced jalapenos. It's so easy to throw together and is a make ahead so you can spend more time focusing on your cocktail attire {like the pretty dress from Twelve Saturdays, shown above!} than on your cooking.

Lastly, dessert called for the use of some of those fresh Georgia peaches I mentioned earlier. In this case, peaches drowned in a little bourbon and encased in buttery, flaky puff pastry... can you imagine anything better? These dainty little turnovers are simple and classy, just what a cocktail party needs!

This tailgate menu may have been planned with Georgia in mind, but it's definitely not for the Dawgs! For those of you heading to Jacksonville this weekend, have a fantastic time and don't forget to cocktail responsibly. ;)


Georgia Bulldog Cocktail
 created by Carla from Haute-Cocktail

1 1/2 oz. Vanilla Vodka
1/2. Peach Schnapps

In a glass with ice pour all ingredients. Stir and enjoy!

Georgia "Caviar"
adapted from Paula Deen

1 15 oz cans black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 cup whole kernel corn {from can or fresh}
1/2 cup Ro-Tel tomatoes
1  cups red bell pepper, chopped
1/4  cup fresh jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/3 cup Italian dressing
2 tablespoons chopped pimentos, drained

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix together. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to marry. Serve with tortilla chips or assorted crackers.

Bourbon-Peach Turnovers
1 sheet of store bought puff pastry {such as Pepperidge Farm}, defrosted
1 large ripe peach {frozen will do if fresh are not in season}, chopped small
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons bourbon
a dash of cinnamon
a pinch of salt

Set oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Unfold puff pastry {it should come in thirds}. Cut along the folds {lengthwise} until you have three separate rectangles. Cut each rectangle in thirds. {You should end up with 9 squares altogether.}

In a smal bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Place about a tablespoon of peach mixture in the center of each square and fold over pastry so that tips meet and a triangle is formed. Using the tines of a fork, seal along the edge of each rectangle. Cut a small vent in the top of each triangle.

Place triangles on a baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Willow Bird Baking Challenge #4: Autumn Cupcakes

Let's talk a little bit about great ideas, shall we?

I have them all the time. Ideas, like bolts of lightning, that seem to come out of nowhere and light up your brain with unlimited potential for success.

One of my most recent great ideas for the blog was starting my Tailgate Thursday series. When it came to mind as the end of the summer wound down, I could barely contain my excitement.

Fast forward to the beginning of football season, around the time of my second post. My enthusiasm for the project was still going strong. But oh, how I had underestimated the amount of time it would take to put together a cohesive post... every week... for TWELVE weeks. {P.S. We are now on week 8... but I skipped a week. So really I have 5 more schools to go.}

What am I saying exactly?

Well, I still love my idea. You seem to like my idea. Everyone seems to be fond of the idea.

But ever since I started working on my idea it seems that I Just.Can't.Catch.Up.

Wednesdays have become a mad panic of last minute grocery shopping, cooking, photography, editing, and writing {not to mention occasional cursing & tooth gnashing}. Thursdays now arrive at alarming speed. Fall snuck up on me while I was busy fact checking information about college towns and mascots.

And so... as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have just not been on top of Fall baking around here. I still have full cans of pumpkin puree sitting in my pantry. And my collection of warm spices stare back at me with this pitiful look saying, "What have we done wrong?"

{Ok, maybe they don't actually say anything, but if they could talk, that's what they would say.}

But today, I'm making up for lost time, because this cupcake creation is basically autumn in cupcake form.

A tender Vanilla Bean Cupcake, filled with a gooey Caramel-Pear Butter center {I told you I'd put that stuff to good use!}, topped with a seductive swirl of Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Frosting.

I'm waiting for Bath & Body Works to call me any day now and ask permission to use this combo as one of their autumn candle scents. {Have your people call my people, B&BW.} ;)

I still have tons of stuff to do for Tailgate Thursday, but you can thank Julie from Willow Bird Baking for her autumn cupcake challenge this week for this creation... because she nudged me into the kitchen and unknowingly caused me to liberate my sad, sad Fall spices. {You can also thank my friend and reader, Trina, for the inspiration because she wanted me to make a Pear & Caramel Cupcake... LAST YEAR... and that popped into my head when this challenge arose and materialized in the form of this cupcake.}

 Anyway, enough chatter. If you're still waiting for Fall to arrive in your kitchen, this is definitely a good place to start... and there's no doubting that it's a VERY good idea.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Caramel-Pear Butter Filling
and Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Frosting
Cake adapted from The Cupcake Project, Caramel-Pear Butter from Epicurious

For Cake:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine granulated sugar and vanilla bean seeds until well blended. {No major vanilla bean clumps.}

3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to vanilla sugar. Mix until well blended.

4. Beat in softened butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, canola oil, and vanilla. Pour liquid into flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Pour milk in slowly, mixing until just combined. {The batter will be liquidy. That's how it should be!}

6. Fill each liner a little over halfway full. Bake for 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Remove from oven. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.

For Filling:

1/2 cup Caramel-Pear Butter

For Frosting:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
About 3 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter, sugar and cinnamon together until smooth and sugar begins to blend in. {This may take a few minutes.}

2. Slowly add in confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time until well blended.

3. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. {Some of the brown sugar crystals might still be visible. It's ok.} :)


1. With a sharp paring knife {or an apple corer... it's my favorite tool for this task!}, cut a well in the middle of each cooled cupcake. {Save the cake for snacking. :) }

2. Fill a piping bag or zip top storage bag with the tip snipped with about 1/2 cup of filling. Fill each cupcake to top of well.

3. Fill a separate piping bag with frosting and desired decorative tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

4. If desired, sprinkle lightly with extra cinnamon and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caramel-Pear Butter

Oh my gosh, guys. The end of October is almost here, which is just crazy because I have posted exactly ONE Fall-like recipe this entire month.

That's just not ok.

:::Raising right hand::: Starting today, I vow that I will focus on posting more pumpkiny, squashy, cinnamony, spicy things.

There. Now let's get to it.

I'm easing into all this Fall goodness with something sweet, and fruity, and fabulous.

Caramel-Pear Butter

What is it? Well, a bit of a fib, for starters.

Because it contains neither caramel nor butter. {Who names these things?}

It's the same type of "Butter" as Apple Butter; a sweet, thick spread that goes well with all kinds of goodies. And as for the Caramel, I think the brown sugar in the recipe lends some of that rich, sugary flavor that makes caramel so delicious.

The truth is, once you spread this on a muffin, smear it on a biscuit, or frost a cupcake with it, you won't really care what it's called.

I'd call it, "Fall in a Jar". That's what it tastes like to me.

If you don't think this recipe is important today, make sure you keep an eye out for what I use it in this week... you'll love it. And I wouldn't lie about that. ;)

Caramel-Pear Butter
Adapted from Epicurious

2 1/2 pounds {about 4-5 good sized} Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, & chopped into about 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
A pinch of salt

1. In a medium pot, toss together apple juice or cider, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and chopped pears. {Lemon juice keeps pears from browning, so you should toss them in as soon as they are cut.}

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pears begin to release their own juices, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Turn down heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the pears are very tender, about 20 more minutes

4. Scoop softened pears into a blender and blend until almost smooth. {Be careful blending anything hot - it tends to make liquids explode from the blender! You may want to let it cool slightly before beginning to process. You can leave it a bit chunky if you prefer that consistency instead.}

5. Return pear puree to pot and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, and salt.

6. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened to desired consistency, about 1 hour. {Remember, it will thicken quite a bit more once it is cooled.}

7. Pour into a jar and allow to cool before sealing.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of Caramel-Pear Butter.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tailgate Thursday: South Carolina Edition!

Is it just me or do Thursdays just keep coming faster and faster??

Guys, I cannot tell you the excitement I have for this weekend's game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. In fact, I have had to do everything in my power to not let my dear husband convince me to pack up the car and drive back up to Gainesville to be present at that game.

Must... stay... strong. ;)

Since we can't be there in person, we'll just have to do the next best thing: Make some Carolina goodies to snack on during the game {and scream at the TV at the top of our lungs!}.

The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, South Carolina, a city where "historic homes and antebellum mansions nod to a bygone era while high-tech start-up companies and arts enthusiasts thrive in the urban revitalization occurring in the downtown area." {According to the Columbia Visitor's Bureau website}

Sounds to me like the best of both worlds!

Like many other colleges in the South, Gamecock fans definitely have their fair share of tried-and-true tailgating recipes. One of them is classic Carolina BBQ.

Since I'd never tried Carolina's mustard-based barbecue, I thought I'd give it at try for Tailgate Thursday!

1. Garnet Kamikaze Cocktail, 2. Cocky Pockets,
3. Sweet Tea Cookies, 4. Garnet Baby Got Back Dress by Twelve Satudays
As always, we start off with a cocktail creation by Carla... The Garnet Kamikaze! Sweet, delicious, and most importantly... Garnet!

My Cocky Pockets are a fast, and easy addition to any tailgate menu. I combined shredded chicken with some Carolina-style BBQ sauce {you can use your own if you have your own secret recipe!}, and stuffed it inside some store bought biscuits {which, admittedly, I am not used to using... but when time's a factor, you do what you can!}. Best of all, they are handheld for low messiness and high portability.

These Sweet Tea Cookies were my favorite addition to the Gamecock menu. The Southern staple of sweet tea in cookie form? Absolutely genius! Soft cookies with a hint of tea and lemon flavor, topped off with a sweet tea glaze. The only thing missing is an ice cold glass!

{Fun fact: Liz from Twelve Saturdays is an avid Gamecocks fan! Hopefully we'll still be on speaking terms after this weekend's game!}

Keeping my fingers crossed that my Gators can pull off another win this weekend... but I hope you Gamecock fans out there will still enjoy some of today's picks for your tailgate menu and have a fantastic gameday!

Garnet Kamikaze
by Carla from Haute Cocktail

2 oz Vodka
2 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine

Place all ingredients in a shaker, shake and serve over ice. Garnish with a cherry, if desired.

Cocky Pockets

For Sauce {Adapted from Food Republic}:

1/2 cup mustard of your choice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Whisk together all ingredients except butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter until melted. Set aside until thickened.
For Pockets:
1 can refrigerated biscuits
2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1/4 to 1/3 cup Carolina barbecue sauce
1. Mix together shredded chicken and desired amount of barbecue sauce. Set aside.
2. Flour your work surface lightly. With hands {or rolling pin, but I'd rather have one less thing in the sink!}, flatten each biscuit individually into about a 4 inch circle. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of chicken mixture into the center of each circle.
3. Fold over biscuit into a half moon shape, then seal each circle by pinching edges carefully with fingers. {You can use a little bit of water around the edge if yours aren't sticking.} Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edge of each pocket.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Place sealed pockets onto baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until puffed and golden brown.
Serve pockets with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

Sweet Tea Cookies
adapted from The Christian Science Monitor
1/4 cup milk
1 tea bag
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

2. Heat milk in a microwave safe cup for about 50 seconds on  high. Remove from microwave and place tea bag in milk to steep until milk is cool, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

5. Add egg and lemon zest and mix until fully incorporated.

6. Add cooled milk/tea mixture.

7. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and a soft dough forms.

8. With a cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

9. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until cookies are puffed and set and edges just begin to turn golden.

10. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For Glaze:

1/4 cup water
1 tea bag
2 cups powdered sugar

1. In a microwave safe cup, heat water until just boiling.

2. Place tea bag in water and steep for about 15 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, place powdered sugar. Add tea a tablespoon at a time until a thick glaze is formed.

4.  Dip cookies, one by one, upside down in glaze and allow excess to drip off. Flip and place onto cooling rack to set.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Willow Bird Baking Challenge #3: Black Widow Bite Cookies

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope the weekend was filled with all sorts of good stuff for you and that you're recharged for the week! :) I am super excited to announce that the winner of the NatureBox giveaway is... Christina Fitch!

Congratulations, Christina, I hope you enjoy your prize... and that you report back to us & let us know what you receive in your NatureBox!

{If you didn't win this time, don't be bummed...remember you have access to a 25% NatureBox discount code - APPLE25- just for being a reader of The Kitchen Prep!}

Well... we are halfway through October and and I'm just going to come right out with it and be straight with you: Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays.

There, I said it.

I know a lot of you are probably super disappointed by this confession. I can tell because I see something come over many of you around this time of year... something that turns the sweetest, classiest people I know into gore-seeking, ghoul-loving, walking-dead-watching fiends.

We all have our things. I won't judge.

I've thought about why I'm not particularly fond of Halloween, and I've only been able to come up with one good reason: One of my earliest memories of having the bejeezus scared outta me.

A 3-year-old me. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Not being mentally mature enough to understand that it was fake. And a lifelong fear of dead people, cemeteries, and pretty much anything dealing with ghosts or scariness thereafter.

I have enjoyed some parts of Halloween throughout the years. In fact, when I was in elementary school, I couldn't wait for the Halloween Carnival we'd have each year {though I'd stay away from the Haunted House put on by the 8th graders at all costs. Not a "double dog dare" could get me step foot near it until late middle school.}. I loved trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. Adored being allowed to wear makeup & high heels outside the house for no real reason. Thoroughly enjoyed coloring pumpkins and bats and black cats.

But that's about as far as my Halloween appreciation grew. {Except, of course, for that short time in college when Halloween was an excuse to go out mid-week in minimal clothing and maximum makeup without anyone so much as batting an eye. Sort of.}

Nurse Kristin, me {Officer D.}, & Kelly the Kitty at The Swamp in Gainesville. Hey, I didn't judge you.
So, yeah, I am not the biggest fan of spooky things. I still avoid horror movies because I will have nightmares for months on end {and because under-eye bags are not my best look}. I save my money for general "Fall" decor rather than on mummies, vampires, and goblins.

Go ahead, you can say it: I'm a party pooper.

But, since I like you guys so much, and I know that lots of you are Halloween Lovers... I decided to bake up a little something just for you.

This week's Willow Bird Baking Challenge was to make stuffed cookies. So, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone {no pun intended!}, and whip up a little something that would serve both purposes.

These Black Widow Bite Cookies are about as creepy as you will see me get for Halloween. {Mostly because spiders are extremely frightening to me in general.} These dark chocolate cookies are stuffed with raspberry jam so that when you take a bite...

You get your gory, Halloween special effect. ;)

I am not going to lie to you, the cookies pictured above were the only 3 cookies I decorated this way out of the entire batch. I have no patience for this type of decorating, and I don't know how some of you out there make such gorgeous and elaborate baking creations!

Though I threw in the towel after 3 black widows, you are welcome to make an entire family of creepy crawlers if you please. As for the rest of my cookies, I turned them into lovely Dark Chocolate-Raspberry  Thumbprint Cookies...

That's as dark as my "dark side" gets.

Whether you're into the spooky fun, or are a scaredy cat like me, I hope these cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth!

Black Widow Bite Cookies

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder {I used Hershey's Special Dark}
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks

For Filling:

1/2 cup raspberry jam

For Decoration:

1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
Malted Milk Balls {about 15}
Semi sweet chocolate chips for faces {about 15}
Red sprinkle balls for eyes {about 30}
Red decorating icing
Other helpful tools: Piping bags, toothpick
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper or a silicone backing mat. Set aside.

2. Sift together all dry ingredients.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and egg yolks until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients a little at a time until fully incorporated.

4. With a cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop out a ball of dough. Make an indentation with your thumb and fill with about a teaspoon {maybe a little bit less} of raspberry jam.

5. Scoop out a half tablespoon or so of dough and flatten between hands to form a "cover" for your cookie. Place on top on filled half of cookie and carefully seal the edges completely. Place on lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the cookie dough. {Or if you get lazy, just make Thumbprint Cookies!} ;)

6. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until set.

7. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes on the baking sheet before moving. Once slightly cool, move to a baking rack to cool completely.

8. To decorate:
  • Using the red decorator's icing, make the classic black widow "hour glass" on each malted milk ball. Set aside and allow icing to set slightly.
  • Squirt a small dot of melted chocolate in the center of each cookie as "glue" for the body. Place decorated malted milk ball on top and push down lightly to adhere.  
  • Squirt a small dot of melted chocolate in the front of the malted milk ball. Place a chocolate chip there as the spider's head.  
  • Adhere red sprinkles as eyes onto chocolate chips using melted chocolate, or use red icing if desired. 
  • Create long "legs" by drawing 4 lines of melted chocolate on either side of the malted milk ball body.
Get as creative as you want, no two spiders are alike! ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tailgate Thursday: LSU Edition!

I'm hoping you didn't notice, but I sort of skipped over Tailgate Thursday last week. There was just too much stuff going on and too little time to get everything done. Oh yeah, and the recipe I had planned totally bombed. So there was that little factor, too.

But this week, I'm back and I'm ready to share some Purple & Gold love for the LSU Tigers!

Steve and I had the chance to go to a game at "Death Valley" a while back... and boy, was that an experience! {Sadly, our team lost that game and we were forced to walk through the valley of death with bourbon-fueled fans heckling us along the way... no fun at all.}

With our LSU friends. Baton Rouge, Louisiana - Circa 2007
One thing I do remember fondly about our LSU tailgating experience was the food. I'm pretty sure that in order to be an LSU fan, you have to sign some sort of agreement stating that you will purchase professional tailgating gear and make enough food to feed an army! I'm talking VATS of fried oysters, fried shrimp, and anything else you can batter and fry along with sides of spicy crawfish pasta salad and boatloads of other snacks. They sure do know how to throw a party!

Of course, the state in general is known for some pretty fantastic foods... Fresh gulf seafood, Cajun cooking, and New Orleans fare are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Louisiana

For my LSU tailgate menu, I decided to go the easy route with quick but yummy bites that you don't need fancy tailgate gear to make at home.

1. Purple Tiger Dream Cocktail by Carla at Haute Cocktail, 2. Cajun Tater Bites,
3. Tiger Butter Candy, 4. LSU dress from Twelve Saturdays
Let's start with the Purple Tiger Dream Cocktail that Carla mixed up for us. The deep purple color made by combining raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, and blue curacao along with a few other ingredients is a perfect match for Twelve Saturdays' adorable little one-shouldered number. Cocktail coordination!

I couldn't resist buying purple potatoes for the Cajun Tater Bites to go with the theme! These are so easy to make and the color really gives a festive touch to these spicy starters. {If you can't find purple potatoes, plain small potatoes should work just fine.}

For a sweet treat, you won't find tastier stripes than the Tiger Butter Candy that comes together in about 20 minutes! It's a cross between fudge and bark with a creamy peanut butter kick. Easy and satisfying!

I can't believe this is my 6th Tailgate Thursday post, which means we're mid-way through football season already! Have you tried any of my tailgate recipes? Discovered any new ones we shouldn't live without? Feel free to share with me here or on my Facebook page... I love to see what's happening in your kitchen!

Purple Tiger Dream Cocktail
by Carla at Haute Cocktail

1/2 oz. Blackcurrant vodka {or plain vodka if you don't have Blackcurrant}
2 oz. Raspberry Liqueur
1 oz. Blue Curacao Liqueur
2 oz. Cranberry Juice
Lemon-Lime Soda


1. In a shaker mix vodka and cranberry juice and pour in a glass with ice.
2. Add raspberry liqueur and blue curacao to glass and fill up with lemon-lime soda.

*If the drink is a little too blue, add extra cranberry juice until a deep purple color is achieved.

Cajun Tater Bites

20 small purple potatoes, scrubbed
Approximately 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, sliced into small squares

For Topping:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Cajun or blackened seasoning {more if you want more of a "kick"}
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling Potatoes:

1. Fill a medium pot with water and a tablespoon of salt. Place scrubbed potatoes in water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-18 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Slice each potato in half.* Season with salt. While warm, top with a small square of cheddar cheese.

3. Finish with a small dollop of yogurt mixture.

*You may need to cut a tiny sliver off the bottoms of potatoes for them to stand without rolling.

Tiger Butter Candy
adapted from Taste of Home

1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter {I used reduced fat... not that it really matters!}
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Prepare an 8x8 square baking pan by lining with foil. Coat foil with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, place white chocolate chips and peanut butter. Heat for about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave, stopping at 30 minute intervals to stir until the mixture is smooth and chips are fully incorporated.

3. Pour peanut butter mixture into prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Set aside.

4. Repeat melting process with semi sweet chips {it will take less time since it's a smaller amount}.

5. Spoon melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture in long tiger-stripe-like strokes.

6. With the tip of a knife or a toothpick, swirl chocolate into peanut butter mixture to look like tiger stripes.

7. Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes or until set, then remove and break into pieces.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Willowbird Baking Challenge #2: Brie & Jam Braid with Candied Walnuts

Did you get a chance to check out all the fabulous, innovative recipes from Willow Bird Baking's "Cinnamon Roll" Challenge last week? Seriously creative bakers, I tell you. {Uh, Guava & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Rolls?? I die.}

I participated in the first challenge because I like to give myself extra projects when I barely have time to breathe liked the idea of challenging myself with something I don't usually make. And the end result was great. But upon completion, I thought to myself, "Ok... that was fun. But no more challenges for a bit."

Well... I lied. To myself, that is. Because after I watched Julie's Challenge #2 video, I had a flood of ideas that I wanted to try out. I just couldn't resist.

The challenge this week? A braid. No, not like the fancy ones for hair that you see all over Pinterest... the ones that look like they might require a few extra limbs to accomplish. But a Cream Cheese Braid, like you might see served at a brunch or tea party.

I've actually made something similar before {back when I didn't know you were actually supposed to post recipes on a cooking blog. Duh.} , and it was pretty delicious.

This time, I decided to go with a stroke of savory/sweet inspiration and came up with the Brie & Jam Braid with Candied Walnuts.

I LOVE brie. It's quite possibly one of my favorite foods. Ever. And around the holidays, I start wanting to serve it at every party, get together, and gathering I have so that the leftovers will remain in my fridge for me to snack on. {They don't last very long.}

If you've ever had Brie en Croute, you know of the buttery simplicity of a wheel of brie enveloped in puff pastry and baked to melty perfection. Many times, you'll also find it topped with nuts or fruit jam. The combination of sweet and savory, crunchy and flaky, gooey and jammy, is divine.

{Pardon me while I mop up the drool puddle on my keyboard.}

So, for my braid, I decided to wrap up some of those flavors and textures in a neat little cream cheese dough package.

Brie. Apricot jam. Candied walnuts and a brown sugar syrup.

For some things, "Yum" is the only appropriate response. This is one of those things.

I'm not sure if I'll go for the next WBB Challenge, but I'm glad I decided to try this one because I have a feeling this recipe will be making an appearance again in the near future!

Brie & Jam Braid with Candied Walnuts

Willow Bird Baking Cream Cheese Dough Recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
3 ounces best quality cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk, minus 1/2 teaspoon


4 oz. {approximately} brie
1/4 cup apricot jam {or your favorite jam... raspberry or apple butter would be amazing!}
1/3 cup brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, diced butter, and cubed cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times until large chunks are no longer visible and the flour resembles coarse meal.

Slowly add milk through feed, pulsing a few times until a ball of dough forms. {Do not overprocess.}

Turn sticky dough out onto a floured piece of parchment or wax paper. With floured hands, lightly knead a few times {not too many or you'll get a tough dough!}. Place another sheet of parchment or wax paper on top and, using a rolling pin, flatten and roll out into approximately an 8x12 inch rectangle. {Or amoeba shaped, as the case may be. I just can't seem to roll out dough into a rectangle!}

Slide onto a sheet tray coated with non-stick cooking spray. {If you are using wax paper, you will want to slide it out from under the dough. For parchment, you may keep the paper underneath the dough. DO NOT bake wax paper!}

Follow Julie's directions for marking & cutting the dough.  {She has great pictures over there that serve as a guide for you visual ones out there!}

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread jam in the center third of the dough. Top with slices of brie. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Until sugar is melted and begins to bubble slightly. Add in chopped walnuts and stir to coat. {If the sugar hardens, you may want to add another tablespoon of water to loosen it up again.}

Pour coated walnuts and brown sugar syrup over brie.

Beginning at the top of your dough, take the first flap and fold it over diagonally toward the opposite side. Do the same with the flap on the other side. {It will look like flaps of dough hugging the center.} Continue doing this all the way down the dough until you have what resembles a braid. {It's ok if it isn't perfect... it will still taste good!}

Bake braid for 12-15 minutes, until dough is cooked through and slightly golden.

Meanwhile, place butter & brown sugar in a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat on high for about 1 minute, for 30 second intervals until butter and sugar melt together into a thickened syrup.

Pour over top of braid.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prep Praises: NatureBox {and a Giveaway!}

Whew... well, we're back from a weekend in Gainesville celebrating a Gator victory. {Woohoo!} You must be wondering how we're still fitting into our clothes around here after all of the birthday-celebrating, tailgate-cooking, cocktail-sipping fun I've been posting about lately.

So am I.

You're probably sick of hearing {reading?} me say this, but truly... it's all about balance. Though I'd like to say that we stick to a 90/10 ratio of healthy & wholesome versus decadent & splurge-worthy, once September comes around it's more like 70/30 until the New Year. Just telling it like it is.

During the times when I'm {trying to be} good, it's always nice to have go-to snacks that make choosing smarter foods easier and excite me as much as indulgent nibbles. {Especially since the average American gets 25% of their calories from snacking! Sounds like a "make-or-break" category to me!}

A while back, I was contacted by a company called NatureBox to see if I'd be interested in trying out their product. As much as I love testing out new goodies, I'm usually pretty picky about the kinds of foods I allow into our pantry... especially because so many companies find a way to sneak artificial colors, preservatives, and other not-so-good stuff into foods that would otherwise be ok.

After doing a little research and  reading about NatureBox's mission, I decided that I'd give it a try.

My NatureBox arrived filled with a cornucopia of delicious, nutritious goodies {as promised!}: Umami Roasted Nuts, Pistachio Power Clusters, Apple Orchards Granola, Toasted Sesame Stix, and Big Island Pineapple.

I've got to tell you, the only thing I did not like about my NatureBox was trying to keep Steve {my health-conscious hubby} from busting into the packaging and eating everything before I got a chance to check it out and take pics! I'm happy to report that he and I both enjoyed snacking on everything {his favorite was the dried pineapple slices, mine was a toss up between the granola and the Power Clusters!}.

Here are some things I loved about NatureBox:
  • The packaging. It feels like a present. :) Each goody was individually packaged in a resealable pouch, too, for convenient, portable snacking and freshness. {Plus, I'm not going to lie, I sort of live by this.}
  • They promise wholesome, high quality ingredients with no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or artificial colors. Score!
  • For each NatureBox purchased, they donate one meal to feed hungry children in America. Love it. 
  • You get 4-6 carefully chosen snacks in each box for $19.95/month... less than you'd spend on wholesome goodies at some health food stores, and you don't even have to put real pants on and go to the store to get them. {You can also cancel your subscription whenever you want.}
I thought those NatureBox people seemed pretty cool. And guess what? They're pretty generous, too! They're letting me share a promo code for 25% off your first month subscription for the month-to-month option if you decide to give them a try! Just type in APPLE25 in the promo code box when you check out.

Guess what else? They're giving one you a chance to win a NatureBox sample of your very own! Who doesn't love a {delicious & healthy} freebie?

Check out the RaffleCopter box below to enter... and if you win, will you promise to tell me what you get in your NatureBox?? The curiosity might just drive me mad! :) Good luck and happy snacking!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. I'll be posting a recipe that uses one of my favorite NatureBox snacks later today on The Kitchen Prep's Facebook page... be sure to stop by & check it out!

*Contest Terms & Conditions*

- This giveaway is open to USA residents only starting on Monday, October 8, 2012 and ends Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm EST.
- One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter. Winner will be announced on the blog and on Facebook on Monday, 10/15/2012.
- Winner will be responsible for providing Name, Email, and mailing address for receipt of prize.
- Winner will have until Wednesday, October 17, 2012 to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen.
- The winner will receive a different NatureBox than the one reviewed in this post (items are chosen monthly by the NatureBox company)
- NatureBox is only able to ship to US addresses
- At this time, NatureBox is unable to customize boxes for specific dietary needs, allergies or personal preferences.

*Dislosure: I received a NatureBox sample box to review, but I was not compensated for this post. The opinions I share with you are all my own. :)