Food Swap: Soup & Sandwiches!

Food Swaps are a great way to get a sampling of different variations of foods, such as a cookie swap/exchange normally held during the holidays. Well, we can continue this concept throughout the year, not just during the holidays! Food swapping is also becoming a recent food trend in which people are sharing what food they do have for other food they don’t have. With the rising costs of food & groceries, let’s utilize our own cooking/baking skills in the kitchen as an alternative to the grocery store.

For this event, friends brought a slow cooker, Crockpot or a pot of soup, chowder, or chili. We shared our delicious creations by placing them in freezable containers for everyone to take some home and/or enjoy for lunch. To accompany our delicious soups, I provided a panini bar with various breads, cheeses, meats and fillings for some great sandwiches.

As a result of this event, we all took home a whole variety of soups, chowders, and/or chilis to enjoy for the week ahead. What I love about this event is that it not only is an event for friends to score quality local food, but it also fosters a unique community by giving everyone the opportunity to actually meet the people who make what they eat.

Here are the soups that we swapped:

italian chicken bruschetta soup
yellow split pea soup
curried pear & butternut squash soup
smashed potato soup
roasted tomato soup
spicy vegetarian chili

assorted paninis
assorted chips

Megan & Matt’s spinach salad

fudge brownies

Marvelous Muffins Adventure Round Up!

Fall is a great time to enjoy baked goods like muffins! There are so many variations, its easy to make a batch to share. This month for our food swap event , friends came over with a batch of their favorite muffin recipe and swapped them for other flavors. Here are pictures of the event along with recipes of the muffins shared:

Joelen’s Mini Peppermint Patti Muffins
made with Hershey’s Mini York Peppermint Patti Chips

Joelen’s Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Muffins
made with Hershey’s Chocolate RaspberryCream Filled Chips

To join in the fun, my fellow bloggers have submitted their favorite muffin recipes! As I do with each blogging event I host, a lucky blogger receives a giveaway related to the food theme. This event’s winner is Kelly of Kelly Cooks… and Other Amazing Feats! Kelly has won a bread baking and muffin cookbook. Congratulations Kelly and thanks to all that participated in the blogging event! Read on to check out the recipes submitted by my fellow bloggers…

Brooke of Dessert First
from Florida
Banana Crumb Muffins
Brooke shares with us a special Banana Crumb muffin inspired by her son! What I especially like about these is the crumbly top… then again, that’s probably my fave part of any muffin! Check out Brooke’s blog for the recipe!
Jess of Cooking Up Memories
from Wisconsin
Cinnamon Apple Muffins
Jess joins us to share her Cinnamon Apple muffins, perfect to celebrate the fall. Aside from fresh apples and applesauce used in the recipe, it’s topped with a yummy streusel topping! Check out Jess’s blog for the recipe!
Jenn of Beantown Baker
from Massachusetts
Banana Blueberry Muffins
Jenn offers up a healthy muffin (which I love!) with her Banana Blueberry Muffins. She uses whole wheat flour and Splenda to create these breakfast treats. Check out Jenn’s blog for the recipe and do as she does – make a batch over a weekend to enjoy for the rest of the week!
Shawna of Daily Deliciousness
from Michigan
Zucchini Muffins
Sometimes getting vegetables into our diets can be a challenge… unless you have one of Shawna’s Zucchini Muffins! This is one muffin that packs in lots of zucchini but looks (& probably tastes) so indulgent. Check out Shawna’s blog for the recipe!
Stephanie of Macaroni & Cheesecake
from Tennessee
Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
Do you ever have a hard time debating whether to grab a donut or muffin in the morning? Well Stephanie has the answer… grab one of her Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins! This sweet morning treat combines the best of muffins and donuts all into one. Even better is knowing that the recipe is healthier than an actual donut or your typical muffin! Check out Stephanie’s blog for the recipe!
Kira of Food alla Puttanesca
from Tennessee
Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins
Kira gets into the fall baking season with her Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins. They not only are deliciously moist but healthy since they are made with whole wheat and all purpose flour. Check out Kira’s blog for the recipe!
Lindsey of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings
from New York
Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze
The holidays are right around the corner and before you know it, smells of gingerbread will be wafting from your kitchen. Don’t think so? Think again because you’ll definitely need to try these Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze… a recipe Lindsey shares with us for this adventure! Check out her blog for the recipe!
Therese of In the Kitchen
from Illinois
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Coming from someone who admits she rarely bakes, I’m happy that Therese joins us to share these Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. They look perfect and the recipe looks great too! Check out Therese’s blog to get the recipe details and give this one a try soon!
Kelly of Kelly Cooks… and Other Amazing Feats
from Pennsylvania
Banana Coconut Muffins
Kelly is a muffin fan and is generous enough to share these delicious Banana Coconut Muffins. She recommends topping these with a bit of whipped cream for an extra special treat! I hope to make these soon because they so delicious. Check out Kelly’s blog for the recipe!
Kelly of Kelly Cooks… and Other Amazing Feats
from Pennsylvania
Quick Cinnamon Roll Muffins
Kelly shares with us a fabulous breakfast muffin unlike no other… Quick Cinnamon Roll Muffins! This muffin gives a twist to the traditional cinnamon roll in a perfect sized package. To get more details about how these taste, the texture and the recipe, check out Kelly’s blog!

Kitchenware & Cookbook Swap

Every other month, my friends and I come together to swap something food related. In the past, we’ve done the traditional cookie swap for the holidays, cupcakes, brownies/blondies and even fudge. This month we’re swapping kitchenware & cookbooks.

If you’re interested in getting some different cookbooks to check out or even some kitchenware items to play with, a great way to do so is to have your friends look through the items they have and don’t want! In fact, you can even do a swap of purses, home decor, clothes, accessories, etc. Anything left over can be donated to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. It’s a great way to recycle items and allows to you to do some inventory on what you have on hand.

We started out by having everyone put their giveaways in a room for display. This served as our “shopping room” that everyone would browse and select their items for the swap. Unfortunately, these are only a fraction of the items brought in to the swap! The room was full of items that I couldn’t take a pictures of them all… and some items went fast!

But the funniest item of the swap was this book… who knew that Liberace had a cookbook?!
Once all our items were displayed, we had a simple lunch that I prepared of a burger platter & fixings, sweet potato fries, truffle salted fries and I also made some cinnamon sugar tortilla chips w/a fresh fruit salsa. After lunch, we all drew numbers to determine the order of who shops. For an added spin, we applied the “dirty swap” rule, in that you could take any item that anyone who shopped before you got from the shopping room. It made for some fun and some possessiveness! Here’s the items I snagged from the swap: bamboo steamer, smore’s maker, set of 4 glass mugs and a few cookbooks!To join in the fun, my fellow bloggers have submitted pics of their cookbooks du jour and their favorite kitchen tools. As I do with each blogging event I host, a lucky blogger receives a giveaway related to the food theme. This event’s winner is Angie of Adventures of Home Cooking! Angie will be receiving a package of random cookbooks! (Don’t worry Angie, I won’t include the Liberace cookbook unless you really want it! Hahaha!) Congratulations Angie and thanks to all that participated in the blogging event! Read on to check out the pics submitted by my fellow bloggers…
Stina of Eat Something
from Tennessee
Stina loves her ice cream scoop and whisk, as well as her multitude of cookbooks! Kudos to her husband to helped her with this artistic shot of her entry. Check out her blog for details and some great dishes she shares!
Angie of Adventures of Home Cooking
from Chicago, IL
Angie has a great post on her favorite cooking tools and cookbooks! Do check it out as I’m sure many of you may have the same favorites!

Kazari of I Think I Have a Recipe For That
from Canberra, Australia
Happy Birthday Kazari! For her birthday, she received a cookbook stand and some great new cookbooks which will probably keep her busy in the kitchen for awhile. Check out her blog post and she what upcoming dishes she plans on making from the cookbooks!

Allison of LemonBasil
from Portland, OR
Allison has a great blog post about public libraries… and I completely agree with her thoughts on renting books from the library rather than purchasing them. In fact, I’m known for placing books on hold every month every time I’m interested in buying a book. This allows me to see if I like a book enough to justify purchasing it! Check out her post and for a visual, here’s some books Allison recently checked out from her public library:

Go Fudge Yourself!… I Will, Thanks!

Food Swap: Fudge ~ It’s another month to enjoy another swap of treats. This month we are paying homage to fudge. What makes it so great is that it’s a candy that comes in an array of flavors and can be easily shared. For this adventure, bloggers submitted their favorite fudge recipe to share. If you would like to host a fudge swap with friends and/or family, just ask everyone to make one 8×8 or 9×13 pan of their favorite fudge recipe. Have them bring it over to cut up in equal pieces, enough for everyone to have a piece. Have some parchment paper, plastic wrap or foil on hand along with labels so that everyone can wrap each piece of fudge and label what flavor it is. At that point, everyone can give each other a piece of their fudge. Once all fudge has been passed out, everyone should have a piece of all the flavors made! This is a great way for you to try various flavors of fudge without having to make them all yourself.

Here are the fudge recipes received for this blogging event:

Maple Walnut Fudge
submitted by Manuela of Baking History
recipe from Alice Bradley in The Candy Cookbook

1 tbsp(15 g) butter
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/2 cup (161 g) maple syrup
1/3 cup (80 g) cream
1 cup (100 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably cast iron) , add the sugar, maple syrup, and cream, stirring on low heat until sugar is dissolved.
It is important that the sugar dissolves completely, or the final results will be grainy rather than smooth. Using a small brush dipped in water wash off any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan and to the wooden spoon you use to stir the mixture.
Once the mixture is completely smooth and blended, bring it to the boil, insert a candy thermometer and let cook, without stirring, until it reaches 238°F (114.44 C°) or soft ball stage.
Remove from the heat , and let stand undisturbed until cool (110F)—place the pan on a trivet so that air can circulate around the bottom. The candy will initially be gooey but later will set perfectly. Add walnuts and salt, and beat with a wooden spoon until candy begins to get creamy. Place in a 8×8-in (20×20 cm) square pan lined with aluminum foil well greased with butter or almond oil and press with a spatula to distribute the candy evenly. Mark in squares before the candy sets. Cut along lines and serve.
Notes: for perfect results, it is necessary to make sure that the sugar is completely melted before the mixture is boiled. Candy thermometer must be always read at eye level, or false readings will cause candy that is either under-or over-cooked, both of which will end up in disappointing results. Beating too long or not long enough after the mixture has cooled is also a potential source of problems. Practice is as usual the best teacher.

Lemon Fudge
submitted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook
recipe from

2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk (not condensed, sweetened milk)
9 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 stick of cold butter (4 ounces), cut into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons lemon extract
Zest of one lemon, finely minced
A few drops yellow food coloring (I used an all-natural, turmeric-based tincture)

Have ready an 8-inch square non-stick cake pan. Coat pan with vegetable spray if not using a non-stick pan.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar with the evaporated milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it reaches a boil. Turn down heat slightly, but continue to stir for 6 minutes during a gentler boil. If the mixture begins to brown and stick to bottom of saucepan, turn heat down again, but continue to maintain a boil. Turn off the heat after 6 minutes, then quickly add remaining ingredients, beating constantly until the butter and white chocolate are fully melted, and the mixture becomes well blended, thick and smooth. Immediately pour into cake pan, smoothing the mixture to evenly fill the pan. Take caution when touching the pan; it will quickly become hot. Set aside for 2 hours or until pan and contents are comfortable to the touch. Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes to shrink the fudge from sides of pan for easy removal to a cutting board. Carefully cut fudge into squares with a very sharp knife. Serves 6–8.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Caramel Chip
shared at the event by me, Joelen!
(recipe was adapted from this one)

1/2 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chocolate caramel chips (optional)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth and stir in chips; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

Mocha Fudge w/Hazelnuts
shared at the event by Carol

Chocolate Cheese Fudge (Paula Deen)
shared at the event by Lori

Dark Chocolate Fudge w/Walnuts
shared at the event by Abbie

Springtime Cupcakes!

Today was a fun day with friends, as always, as we got together for another food swap event! Food Swaps are a great way to get a sampling of different variations of foods, such as a cookie swap/exchange normally held during the holidays. Well, I continue this concept throughout the year, not just during the holidays. Every other month I schedule a Food Swap for various foods that can be easily made in a large batch and shared as individual servings.

This month in honor of spring, my friends and I came together with cupcakes to swap. It was an outstanding turnout at both the afternoon and evening session with so many cupcakes to enjoy. Here are pics of all the cupcake offerings and recipes to go with them. (I’m still awaiting recipes for some… so please check back soon for the others!)

Tricia’s Guiness Chocolate Cupcakes:

Joelen’s Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes:

Chris’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
w/Ginger Cream & Chocolate Ganache Frosting:Recipe can be found in

Ann’s “Expensive” Red Velvet Cupcakes

The recipe Ann used was from

Elynne’s Strawberry Marscapone Cupcakes:

The recipe Elynne used was from

Bob’s Champagne Cupcakes:

The recipe Bob used from from

Mary’s Applesauce Cupakes:

Abbie’s Banana Cupcakes

Maya’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes:

Melody’s Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes:

Hillary’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes:Christine’s Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes:
Stacey’s Guinness Chocolate Chip Cupcakes:

Liz’s Red Velvet Cupcakes: Sara’s Cosmopolitan Cupcakes:

Yael’s Black Forest Cupcakes:
Nancy & Tony’s Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes:
Renee’s Toasted Hazelnut Cupcakes:
Caryn’s Chocolate Cupcakes:
Bob’s Cheesecake Brownie Cupcakes:
Emily’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:

Alli’s Coconut Cupcakes:

Dani’s Vanilla Cupcakes:

Pictures from the cupcake swaps – A diabetic’s nightmare!

Bountiful Brownies & Blondies

In honor of February being the chocolate filled month, my friends & I got together to swap brownies & blondies! The premise is the same as traditional holiday cookie swap. Everyone comes with a large batch of brownies or blondies, sharing them with each other and we all leave with one brownie/blondie of each kind. These are great to share with family, friends, coworkers, etc.

Here are pics of what I served to snack on before swapping:
Spinach Dip w/Toasted Brioche
Black Forest Ham, Scallion & Goat Cheese Pizza

Here are pics and some of the recipes of the brownies & blondies that were brought to the swap:

Cream Cheese Brownies
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Peanut Butter Blondies
adapted from Smitten Kitten & Mark Bittman
(I doubled this recipe and baked it in a 9×13 pan.)

White Chocolate Brownies
w/Dark Chocolate Chunks

Peppermint Patty Brownies

S’mores Brownies

Thai Tea Brownies
adapted by

(not pictured)

Orange Cream Cheese Blondies

Samoa Brownies
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
Milk Chocolate Chip Blondies

Frangelico Hazelnut Brownies

Walnut Blondies

Chocolate Covered Raisin Brownies

Swap & Score!

I held another Cookbook Swap tonight and brought a slew of cookbooks and recipe pamphlets I no longer wanted. Even though not all the cookbooks offered by myself and others were taken, that just leaves more for future swaps!

Here are some pics from the event:

Cookbook Swapping!

Chicago is experiencing a heatwave today… so to cool down and stay out of the kitchen, I met up with some friends from my Chicago Cooks & Bakers group for a Cookbook Swap & Exchange.Up until the 18th century cookbooks were used by the wealthy only. Their servants were not supposed to know how to read a cookbook, so the mistress of the household would read the directions as the servant prepared the mixture. Later, cookbooks were written with the middle class in mind and they began turning up in more homes. For the home cook and chef today, the problem many times is not how to make an unfamiliar dish but which cookbook or recipe to use to make it.

It was a good turnout with 5 of us and several cookbooks to choose from… with even a few more to recycle at the next cookbook swap. Here are some pics from the event:I came home with some great cookbooks I’m looking forward to trying recipes from: