White Chocolate Brownies & A Giveaway

White Chocolate Brownies

I love living in the South. Sure, the heat index is enough to make you want to just sit in an ice bath all day, but the food?! Oh, the food MORE than makes up for it.

Around here….

…your cooking is judged based on how good your gumbo is
…we embrace stale bread for bread pudding
…we have a love (the drink)/hate (the storm) relationship with hurricanes
…we don’t mind getting our hands dirty to dig out tiny pieces of seafood over newspaper
…a biggie–you know the difference between creole and cajun food

I know a lot of people frown upon Louisiana since there are some stigmas about living here, but I really am blessed to say that this is my home. I just love the little things that make Louisiana home, and even if I don’t live here the rest of my life, I know that Louisiana will always be a part of me. Cheesy, but seriously true.

When I was contacted about reviewing a cookbook called “The Southern Foodie“, I just couldn’t resist. The book, written by food/drink/travel writer Chris Chamberlain, features recipes from favorite restaurants in the South and it’s organized by state. Of course, when I got the cookbook, I frantically flipped through the pages and bookmarked numerous recipes.

I was very happy to see Louisiana well-represented in the book, too. There are some great staples in there, like red beans and rice, pralines and bread pudding, to name a few. Besides the classics, I found that there are some fun, out of the box recipes, like barbequed oysters and sweet potato-andouille soup. This book is great for someone trying to get a feel for Southern food, and even for Southerners, it’s impressive how many different recipes the author has in here that I’ve never heard of.

One of the hardest things for me when I find a good cookbook is to choose a first recipe. I actually have quite a few that I want to try, but I was really in the mood to bake, so I decided to make these white chocolate brownies. I love that brownies bake up so quickly and you don’t have to fork out the mixer to make them. It’s sort of dangerous how easy brownies are to throw together and these were no exception. :-) This brownie is a white chocolate brownie base with white and bittersweet chocolate mixed in. Often times, I find white chocolate desserts to be a little too sweet, but I really think the bittersweet chocolate helped to balance things out a good bit. I ended up halving the recipe, since the original recipe makes two 13×9 inch pans worth of brownies (the halved recipe is below). I sent these to work with my husband, and found out that some people enjoyed 2-3 brownies on their own, so this recipe is definitely a winner. Based on this recipe, I can’t wait to give some others a try!

Now, you know I wouldn’t just dangle this cookbook in front of y’all without having a giveaway. :-) The publisher sent me extra books to giveaway to two lucky readers!

Cookbook Giveaway

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Blogiversary Giveaway WINNER

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! I loved reading about your first kitchen adventures. Some of you had me laughing (I’ve been there with the disasters) and some of your stories warmed my heart.

The winner of the cookbook giveaway is:

Cece who wrote:

And I remembered to tweet :)
https://twitter.com/#!/PicklePicnic/status/160090998872088576

Congratulations, Cece! To redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at niftyfoodie@gmail.com! Congratulations!

 

Four Years Ago (+ A Giveaway)

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! I loved reading about your first kitchen adventures. Some of you had me laughing (I’ve been there with the disasters) and some of your stories warmed my heart.

The winner of the cookbook giveaway is:

Cece who wrote:

And I remembered to tweet :)
https://twitter.com/#!/PicklePicnic/status/160090998872088576

Congratulations, Cece! To redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at niftyfoodie@gmail.com! Congratulations!

 

Four years ago, I started this blog as a challenge to myself. I wanted to be able to do more than boil hot dogs or cook a mean scrambled egg. At the time, I moved back in with my parents after finishing my degree, and I felt that I should contribute more in the house since my parents both worked fairly late.

I wanted to cook dinner.

I remember the day before I started my blog, I went to the Winn-Dixie near my house and purchased everything necessary to make turkey meatballs that evening. I kept thinking that there was no way I’d mess this up. I mean, meatballs. How can you mess up meatballs? And thankfully, I didn’t mess up the meatballs. They were delicious.

The next day, I got a little bolder and bought everything I needed to make biscotti. That evening, those came out without causing the smoke alarms to go off. :-)

I was hooked. So, that evening I started a food blog, because I knew I could do this. I could learn how to cook.

I started watching Food Network more, and bought my first cookbook. I wanted to learn terminology in recipes. What the heck is folding anyway? Saute? Braise? So confusing. To give you an idea of how rough the beginning was, I used to cook my chicken in a layer of water, wondering why it didn’t brown. ::sigh::

At some point, my Mom noticed my efforts in trying to learn, so she gave me hands-on lessons too. I think I learned the most from my Mom. To me, she’s completely a pro. I’ll never forget the time we went to a local craft festival, where they served this amazing crawfish sauce on top of fried eggplant. She replicated it perfectly.

I want to be just like her someday.

After four years of challenging myself in the kitchen, I can safely say that I’m perfectly comfortable with trying almost any recipe. There are still some kitchen fails, but that’s what carry-out pizza is for, right?

It’s been so amazing to watch this little chunk of cyber space grow into a blog that actually comes up when you search it on Google. :-) Google knows I exist. That’s pretty darn cool.

It’s also been wonderful to become friends with so many of you. I haven’t met you in real life, but sometimes I feel like I can tell y’all anything. Not anything like my social security number, but still, I can share a lot with y’all. :-) I want to thank y’all by offering one of you a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks.

Source: Barnes and Noble

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Happy Haulidays with Chronicle Books!

Happy Haulidays
Book Collage Source: Chronicle Books

I absolutely love the holiday season. While it gets dark at 5pm around here, and that’s sort of depressing, I can’t help but feel happy. I love giving the ones I care about gifts and watch their reactions! Most importantly, I always love to help others out in some way, whether it be choosing a child to “adopt” and give them gifts for Christmas.

Chronicle Books is offering something amazing this year to one lucky blogger: up to $500 in books for the blogger, one of their readers AND a charity/library of their choice!

While I don’t read novels (high school honors classes ruined novel reading for me), I’m a huge fan of books that support my hobbies, which are mostly cooking/baking and crafts. So, here’s the list of books I would absolutely LOVE to have from Chronicle books. :-)

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Thanksgiving is this week + a giveaway!

EDITED:

Since the original winners never emailed me, I had to re-draw for the Turkey gift cards!

cara….who said:

I try to get as much done as I can the night before and we rent an extra fridge!

AND

Kayla…who said:

My tip is to make your SIL host so you can just show up with your pecan pie and call it a day. :P 

For the two of you who won, to redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at niftyfoodie@gmail.com! Congratulations!

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I absolutely cannot believe that Thanksgiving is this week. It feels like a few weeks ago, I was sweating like crazy any time I stepped outside. Oh wait…that weather is still going on here.

Maybe that’s why I can’t believe it. Ah, life in the South. Turkey Day in 80 degrees is the norm around here. To get myself in the mood, I usually start baking up a storm.

Turkey Cake Pops

I made these little guys two years ago to get myself in the mood for Thanksgiving. I’d love to make them again, but only two were eaten. Why? Well, because they were “too pretty to eat”. ::sigh::

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Blogiversary Giveaway #3

I hope everyone has had an awesome week!  I’ve had a blast reading your comments for giveaway #1 and giveaway #2 (both of which you can still enter). Giveaway #2, especially, because y’all are giving me handmade ideas for future giveaways. :-)

This last giveaway is actually a request from a couple of you. Last year, I held a similar giveaway, because I know that some of y’all aren’t able to find some ingredients that I consider staples in our Louisiana kitchen. It was probably the most comments I’ve ever received from a giveaway, which to me, shows that y’all want some Louisiana staples in your kitchen, for sure! (Can’t say I don’t blame you!)

New Orleans Giveaway Redux

So, here it is folks. Quite a few of these are things we use in our home regularly. The crawfish boil makes for some AMAZING mashed potatoes (and of course, boiled seafood). Tony Chachere’s seasoning is like the salt & pepper in the house, especially for my husband, who loves things WAY spicier than I do. Community Coffee with Chicory is a CRAZY strong coffee. While we don’t make coffee in our house regularly, I do get this stuff at the local coffee shop. This is NOT your typical Starbucks-like coffee. :-) Gumbo File is an ingredient that is a must-have for making gumbo. My friend in NYC said this stuff was no where to be found, so here it is..up for grabs. And of course, Zatarain’s Jambalaya, Gumbo and Pastalaya mixes for easy peasy weeknight dinners. :-)

Here’s the deets:

All you have to do to enter is comment telling me, what would you like to see more of on The Nifty Foodie?

For an additional giveaway entry, post this on your Twitter and comment back with the Twitter link: “I just entered @niftyfoodie’s Blogiversary Giveaway: Louisiana Staples for the Kitchen. Enter here! http://bit.ly/eyaKt3

You have until Monday, January, 24th at 11:59pm to comment.

Just a note: Only continental US readers can enter this giveaway.

FTC Disclosure: These prizes are provided by The Nifty Foodie.

Thanks so much for reading this blog for the past three years. I’ve had so much fun sharing my kitchen adventures with you, and best of luck with the giveaways!

Blogiversary Giveaway #2

I absolutely love reading your comments from the CSN store giveaway! Some of y’all are making me think I actually may ::need:: more kitchen gadgets. ;-)

Speaking of gadgets, giveaway #2 is ALL about gadgets. A book written by my favorite Food Network chef: Alton Brown!

Source

My friend actually introduced me to this particular book, and after skimming it at the bookstore, I was hooked! I knew I had to offer it to y’all as a giveaway!

Source

If you watch Alton’s show, you’ll love this book. He shows you the essentials in your kitchen, and also tells you what you don’t really need. I kind of wish I had this book back in the engaged days (when we made our registry). I really think y’all would enjoy it!

Also, as an added surprise, this giveaway includes a kitchen related surprise from my craft room. The winner is going to get something handmade from me that you will LOVE having in your kitchen, but shh….that prize is a secret! ;-)

All you have to do to enter is comment telling me, what do you think the handmade surprise will be? :-)

For an additional giveaway entry, post this on your Twitter and comment back with the Twitter link: “I just entered @niftyfoodie’s Blogiversary Giveaway: a book by Alton Brown & a handmade kitchen surprise. Enter here! http://bit.ly/gqfvSE

You have until Saturday, January, 22nd at 11:59pm to comment.

Just a note: Only continental US readers can enter this giveaway.

FTC Disclosure: These prizes are provided by The Nifty Foodie. :-)

I can’t wait to read what your guesses will be! ;-) Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final giveaway….it will definitely make you hungry!

Blogiversary Giveaway #1!

I hope y’all had a great weekend! For us, it was a pretty long, 3-day weekend that resulted in getting a good bit of housework done. I’m ashamed to admit that the kitchen was basically closed most of the weekend (we ate out…a lot.), but hey, it’s ok to take a cooking/baking break every once in a while!

I’m sure you want me to stop rambling and get to the good stuff. ;)

The first of the blogiversary giveaways is for a $20 credit to CSN stores! I actually really never knew about them until a few blogger friends held giveaways, and after winning one myself, I was able to see if they are a good online store or not. I ended up not buying anything food related, since I have WAY too many kitchen gadgets as it is!

I was actually first looking at their luggage stores for a few upcoming trips I’m taking, but I ended up purchasing something for crafting (typical). I’m happy to say that I got my order within a week, which is pretty awesome since I didn’t pay extra for shipping.

So, when CSN reached out to have a giveaway at The Nifty Foodie, I knew I couldn’t say no! Free moolah? Why not go for this?!

All you have to do to enter is comment telling me, what you would buy from CSN stores with the credit. :)

For an additional giveaway entry, post this on your Twitter and comment back with the Twitter link: “I just entered @niftyfoodie’s Blogiversary Giveaway: $20 credit to @csnstores. Enter here! http://bit.ly/hRWZB2

You have until Friday, January, 21st at 11:59pm to comment.

Just a note: only US/Canada readers can enter this giveaway. (Just as an FYI to Canadian readers, CSN’s shipping may cost more due to international shipping charges.)

FTC Disclosure: This prize is provided by CSN Stores. :-)

Best of luck! Oh, and stay tuned….tomorrow’s giveaway is going to feature my FAVORITE guy from Food Network! :-) 

 

 

Pet Photography Session Winner!

Session Giveaway

I’m so excited that so many of you wanted a pet photo session! I have to thank Lacey for her generous giveaway, and of course, if you don’t win, there are great specials going on this month for her photography sessions!

So, without further ado…here is the winner!

And that lucky commenter is:

Congratulations Carly!! I will be passing your email to Lacey Rabalais for you to book your session!

GIVEAWAY: Pet Photography Session

A while back, I entered Millie for a pet photography contest sponsored by local photographer, Lacey Rabalais. As you may already know (especially if you follow me on Twitter), I take TONS of pictures of Millie, mostly on my iPhone, but none of them are anywhere close to looking frame-worthy.

I thought winning this mini session would be a great opportunity for Millie to run around, let loose and get photos of her in her prime hyper, happy element. :) Luckily, because of friends (and some readers), Millie won the free session!!

When Millie saw Lacey with that camera, it became a fun game of **catch me if you can** for her. She was running in circles, and whenever she finally calmed down for a picture, she started running again. Eventually, her little puppy-ness caught up to her and she calmed down for some tremendously adorable photos!

Check them out here!

I have to say, Lacey really did an awesome job with Millie. She played right along with her and was very patient with our excited puppy. :-) Her photographs perfectly captured Millie’s personality too. I look at every single photo, and tell myself that’s SO her ::insert emotion here:: face. It’s so wonderful to have these captured in photos. Thank you, Lacey!

After Millie’s session, Lacey graciously offered to host a pet photography session GIVEAWAY on my blog!! Wahoo!!

Session GiveawayCredit: Lacey Rabalais Photography

This is only for my local Baton Rouge area readers, though, since Lacey can’t exactly drive to Vermont or say, Paris in 10 minutes. :-)

Also, check out Lacey’s specials this month for Military Families, Families with adopted children, and of course, for your PETS!

Giveaway Details:

  • One person will be randomly chosen to win a free 30 minute session, which includes an online gallery to view your pictures and also, receive a disc of 10 images from the shoot.
  • TO ENTER: Just leave a comment here or on Lacey’s blog about your lovely pet or pets by Sunday, November 7th at 11:59pm.
  • You must live in the Baton Rouge area to be eligible to win. :-)

Best of luck!