Amazon Prime Day, July 12th – Great deals only for Members

Amazon Prime Day is July 12, 2016.  This is the one day Amazon offers special pricing and deals to its Prime membership.  Amazon Prime Day 2016

This is only Amazon’s 2nd Prime Day — a day that features special deals across all departments specifically and only for the Amazon Prime members.
Last year Amazon offered hundreds of special discounts.  Fire TV Stick that normally sells for $39 was lowered to $24. Other notable deals included:

  • Kindle: $30 off
  • Amazon Echo was available to the first 150 buyers for just $149.
  • Kindle Fire HD 7: $79 (currently $139)
  • Brand-not-specified 32-inch LED TV: $75
  • Brand-not-specified 40-inch LED TV: $115
  • Brand-name (but not specified) 32-inch smart TV: under $200
  • Unspecified Chromebook: $199 (not an uncommon price unless it’s a high-end model)

There were hundreds of name brand electronics, jewelry, clothing, kitchenware, books,  and game consoles available at steep discounts.

What is a Prime Membership?

As an Amazon Prime member you could be enjoying discounts on some items all year long and free shipping every day–a big savings if you shop online regularly from Amazon’s website.  Amazon Prime includes free streaming of the Prime video library of first release movies, television shows and Amazon original television, and access to thousands of on demand movies and television shows.  A Prime membership includes a free Amazon Cloud account for backup and a Amazon Prime Music account.

An Amazon Prime membership costs just $99.00 a year.   Immediately you benefit when you buy anything from the Amazon website with unlimited FREE 2-day shipping.  You also immediately gain access to Amazon’s Prime Video library.  The leading competitor (Netflix) costs $95.88 annually and doesn’t include any of these additional benefits.  Amazon Prime members get access to Amazon Prime Music — a huge library of artists from all types of music that can played through the Prime Music App on your phone or tablet.

You can join Amazon Prime for 30-days risk free trial offer for FREE.

How to join Amazon Prime.

Last year Amazon Prime Day was July 15th.  I almost missed it.  As a Prime member and an Amazon affiliate, I totally overlooked this day until it arrived and I realized there were better deals here than on Black Friday.  Amazon controls the market on this day.  It’s only offered to a select group of members and they can limit the number of each item available (so shop early).  The deals were excellent!  But some of the most desirable offers have time limits (only available for a couple of hours) like the Gold Box Deals Amazon features daily.  Others have a limited quantity available.  It’s good to check out the offerings early.

Right now you can become an Amazon Prime member with the free 30 days trial offer.  No cost, no annual fee for 30 days!  And you can enjoy Prime Day as part of that trial!  So don’t delay — sign up now!

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Summer Means Barbecued Ribs

This summer I’ve set my goal to learn how to grill.  Barbecued ribs are a required basic skill for the home grill master.   I’m fascinated with the art, and grilling most definitely is an art.  Even the grills featured on the best do-it-yourself shows are handcrafted.  But I’m not going to build my own grill.  I have owned a Weber Kettle grill for years and that’s where we begin — basic barbecued ribs.

barbecued ribs - the perfect holiday picnic food.

Barbecued ribs.  Learning to grill part 1.

Ribs. specifically baby back ribs,  were on sale at the local grocery store this morning and since it’s a beautiful sunny day it was the perfect time to begin my quest.

Step 1  Create a rub.

My basic barbecued rib rub is just that – a basic.  Combined all these ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle on 4 pounds of ribs (about 2 racks).   Cover the ribs on a sheet pan with aluminum foil and let the ribs sit for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight to allow for the spices to really be infused into the meat.  If you are going to let these ribs absorb the rub overnight, be sure to put them in the refrigerator.

Barbecued Ribs Basic Rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I’m using kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (don’t use the Mexican type here, it’s too hot.  Just your basic chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

One note, before you even put that rub on your ribs, make sure to remove any membrane on the back of your ribs (bone side).  The thin membrane or silver skin layer can usually just be removed by prying up one area and ripping it from the bones in one tug.  This step prevents your guests and yourself from having to remove it after the ribs are cooked as most people don’t enjoy eating that and it becomes a bit rubbery when cooked.

Step 2:  Partially Cook the Ribs in the Oven

Let the ribs stand on the counter, covered until they reach room temperature.  If you were waiting only 20 minutes in step one, you’re probably ready to go.  Then place the ribs (still covered) into a pre-heated 275 degree oven.  Pre-cook them here until they are fork tender — about 2 1/2 hours.

Step 3:  Add sauce and grill

 

partially cooked barbecued ribs

Admittedly at this stage they are not very pretty.  They do fall off the bone, but they don’t have a rich flavor yet.  The best part of ribs is the smokey flavor they get on the grill.  While you could take them in their partially cooked stage and just add the smokey flavor from the grill with no sauce — why would you?

I chose to use a store-bought BBQ sauce.  I chose a Kraft Hickory Smoke flavor.   This is a personal preference and one I wouldn’t choose again.  If you prefer that St. Louis sweet and sticky rib flavor this is probably right up the alley.  It was too sweet for me.  I prefer the more vinegar flavors of North Carolina barbecue so next time I buy a bottled sauce I will add about a 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to raise the acid levels.  But with that said, the hickory smoke flavor did add a significant amount of flavor.

barbecued ribs

Brush your ribs with about a 1/2 cup of your preferred barbecue sauce and then place them on the preheated grill meat side down for about 8-10 minutes.  Just long enough to develop a nice carmelization but not long enough to burn the sauce.  Brush the bone side of the ribs and flip.  Reapply the sauce to the top portion of your ribs and cover for another 8 minutes.  Remove and enjoy!

The only way to identify your own preferred flavorings with barbecue sauces is to experiment and experience the flavors.  What you enjoy on barbecued ribs may not be the same flavors you will enjoy on chicken or fish.  Again, you must experiment.

In my experience, I tend to prefer the North Carolina vinegar-based sauces on pork, but I’m a Texas barbecue lover with burgers and beef, and when we cook chicken I often migrate to the mustard-based flavors of South Carolina.  I’m by no means an expert yet, so watch for more recipes as summer unfolds here in the south!

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Deal Buzz – Amazon Nonstick Cookware Deal under $50.00

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Amazon’s nonstick cookware deal is a really big bargain! If you’ve looked at any nonstick cookware products, you already know that you can barely purchase a decent frying pan for $50.  But the Amazon Basics nonstick cookware deal currently has a dynamite special — 10 pieces of nonstick Amazon Basics for under $100.00!  This nonstick cookware set is way under $100.00.  There just are not a lot of great sets available for $50.00; much less a complete set of nonstick cookware that packs in this many features.

Amazon Basics Nonstick Cookware

Put these pans right into the oven — safe to 350 degrees

Jump start healthy cook-at-home habits with this Amazon Basics 10-piece nonstick cookware set. Loaded with several everyday essentials, the collection includes fry pans, sauce pans, and casserole pans.

The set’s secure-fitting, tempered-glass lids effectively trap in heat and moisture, plus allow for checking on food at a glance.

  • 10-piece nonstick cookware set includes 7.9-inch fry pan, 9.4-inch fry pan, 6.3-inch sauce pan with lid, 7.1-inch sauce pan with lid, 7.9-inch casserole pan with lid, and 9.4-inch casserole pan with lid
  • Nonstick coating for easy cooking and cleaning
  • Comfortable soft-touch handles stay cool during use
  • Dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup
  • Works with gas, electric, and induction stovetops
Amazon Basics Cookware Deal

Durable Nonstick Coating inside

Nonstick Coating

The cookware set features a nonstick coating, which allows for lower-fat cooking options–no need for excess butter or oil. Even more, the nonstick coating helps prevent cooked food from adhering to the pan; instead, food effortlessly transfers to a platter or dinner plate for gracious serving.

Durable nonstick cookware set

Silicone Coated Handles Stay Cool

Stay-Cool Handles

Whether it’s the long handles on the sauce and fry pans, the side loop handles on the casserole pans, or the knob handles on the lids, the soft-touch handles are designed to stay cool during use, while also promoting a firm, comfortable hold.

Dishwasher Safe Nonstick Cookware

Dishwasher Safe

Dishwasher Safe

The end of a dinner party or holiday meal doesn’t have to mean serious scrubbing or overnight soaking. The pans in the AmazonBasics nonstick cookware set clean up quickly and easily by hand or in the dishwasher.

 

 

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Eat What You Love – Simple good healthy food recipes

I just received Marlene Koch’s Eat What You Love last week.  I’ve made six of her recipes — and we’ve loved all six.  I think this might be my favorite cookbook from the last decade.  These are the luxury meals you can enjoy without the guilt of extra calories and without worrying about too many dietary restrictions.  I bought my ingredients at our local grocery store and planning the meals didn’t break my budget either!

Marlene has create a cookbook of great family-friendly meals (so many I had trouble choosing which to feature) that include things like slow cooker BBQ using a bottom round roast, everyday marinated flank steak, pork with orange marmalade, teriyaki fried chicken and pizza.  There is  a  stove-top Macaroni and Cheese at just 220 calories per serving and a fried mac ‘n cheese that is sure to satisfy even the most skeptical eater.

Eat What You Love Quick & Easy starts out with some helpful explanations about good versus bad fats and how to modify your own family recipes into healthier versions.  There are smoothie and drink recipes even before you start to explore the full cookbook.  Eat What You Love is broken down into traditional sections — beverages & breakfast, breakfast & brunch, soups & stews, sandwiches & burgers, salads, sides, easy entrees, desserts.  All total there are more than 180 recipes and every one fits into a healthy diet plan focused on 1800-2000 calories a day.

I loved the cookbook’s philosophy of familiar foods without a ton of sugar and fat.  It was just a pleasure to explore the pages and make up a menu with the detailed instructions and beautiful pictures.  I was surprised that working with this planner for just a week did not bust my food budget and I was grateful that I saved a ton of time not having to run to multiple stores to fill out my grocery list!  These recipes don’t take a ton of time either.  You have to plan for some recipes to allot the amount to time for marinades or slow cook, but generally the time I spent in the kitchen was less because most of the time it was prepping the marinade and letting the ingredients do their thing to flavor and tenderize.

I am eating gluten free and I had to make a few adjustments to the teriyaki fried chicken to utilize gluten free bread crumbs, but there are many gluten free recipes in this book that needed no modification.   The spicy shrimp “Almost Bang Bang Shrimp” recipe was a huge hit with the family and the marinated flank steak was excellent.

I could eat the Strawberry Souffle every day for dessert.  We made it exactly like the recipe on Monday and Tuesday had the second portion with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

The Eat What You Love Quick & Easy cookbook sells for less than $20 on Amazon.com and is well worth the money!

 

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Best Programmable Slow Cooker-Cuisinart MSC-600

3-function multi-cooker browns, steams and is a fully-programmable slow cooker.

3-function multi-cooker browns, steams and is a fully-programmable slow cooker.

The Cuisinart MSC-600 3-in-1  Multi-Cooker raises the bar for slow cooking fans.  The fully programmable slow cooker also adds the convenience of steamer and brown and saute features. 

This is one-pot cooking at its best! Saute onions, peppers and carrots in this unit, switch to slow cooker mode and add the ingredients for soups and stews that can simmer all day and dinner is ready when you get home.  Use the steamer function to complete a family-sized crab boil or make pot stickers for a party.  This 6-quart unit can easily accommodate party-size quantities of saucy meatballs, pasta bake, soups, sloppy joes, baked beans, and other slow-simmer dishes.  A family-sized pot roast and all the vegetables easily fits inside the large rectangular basin.

The fully-programmable settings for saute, steamer and slow cook easily switch to warming mode to keep dinner ready to serve for up to 8 hours at just the right temperature.

  • One touch switches modes when recipe calls for combination cooking
  • Extra-large blue backlit LCD display with easy-to-read time and temperature settings
  • Removable 6-quart nonstick aluminum cooking pot
  • Glass lid with cool-touch handle for clear view and comfortable handling
  • Dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup, Steaming rack included, Limited 3-year warranty
  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

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Spicey Slowcooker Chicken Enchilada

Slow Cooker Enciladas

Slow Cooker Enciladas

My love of spicy foods came out today in this chicken enchilada mix.  The recipe satisfies all my inner cravings — easy, slow-cooker, uses pantry ingredients and is pretty low fat compared to other versions.  Plus I got to make it in the slow cooker.  It solves my crazing for spicy dishes without jamming on the calories.

I admit this isn’t the standard enchilada recipe–not even close in the preparation method–but the end result is a spicy chicken wrapped in a flour or corn tortillas with presentation charm and sure to satisfy the Latin cuisine lover.

The total recipe serves 8 and is under 300 calories and counts as 7 Weight Watchers points!

Kitchen Tools

slow_cooker

Standard Crock Pot or Slow Cooker

immersion

Immersion Blender

 

 

Spicey Slow Cook Chicken
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Gluten Free
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 package of your favorite taco seasoning mix (you can take the time to mix the ingredients yourself, but the packet is pretty simple)
  • 1 can 15 onces fire roasted canned tomatoes
  • 1 can 15 onces black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 finely chopped jalopeno chili (optional)
  • 1 can whole kernal corn (drained)
  • 8 6 inch corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese (grated into shreads)
Instructions
  1. Put the chicken breasts into the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with taco seasoning, tomatoes, black beans and jalopeno. Turn the slow cooker on high and walk away for 4 hours. Could it get any easier?
  2. Pull the chicken breasts out after 4 hours and using two forks, shred them.
  3. Remove half the sauce/vegetables from the slow cooker and blend with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth.
  4. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker where half the vegetables and sauce are waiting. Mix with the drained can of corn. Filling is complete.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons of the filling to each of the corn tortillas and roll. Place the filled tortilla seam side down into a shallow baking pan. After all the filling is used, pour the reserved blended sauce over the tortillas and top with the cheese.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil (shiney side in) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes longer.
  7. Serve with shredded letuce, scallions and yogurt/sour creme topping. Yummy!
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 295.4 Fat: 9.7 g Saturated fat: 3.3 g Unsaturated fat: 6.4 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 30.5 g Sugar: 2 g Sodium: 333.6 mg Fiber: 5.8 g Protein: 22.8 g

I literally just put all the ingredients into the slow cooker basin and stir it briefly just to combine everything.

enchilada1Most of these ingredients I have on hand in the pantry.  During the winter I make a lot of chilies and soups so it is not unusual for me to stock up on canned tomatoes and all kinds of beans.

 

 

enchilada2The slow cooker enchilada filling is much more appealing after shredding the chicken.  I drained most of the liquid off at this point into a separate sauce pan with half the beans and tomato mixture.

 

 

enchilada4Divide the  chicken into 8 portions and wrap in flour or corn tortillas.  Place these in a baking dish.

 

 

enciladasauce3Use an immersion blender to blend the liquid and bean/tomato mixture from above.  This becomes your sauce.  After you blend this mixture be sure to taste it for seasoning.  I’ve added chocolate (unsweetened) cinnamon and hot sauce to this mixture depending on my mood.  The chocolate adds a depth of flavor but doesn’t change the basic blend.  A dash of cinnamon will add a warmer spice without heat.  Additional tomatoes increases the fruitiness of the enchilada dish.  Play around until you find your own personal preferences.

enchilada5Pour the sauce over your enchiladas and top with the 1/2 cup of monterey jack cheese.  (You can use any soft melting cheese like a traditional Queso Blanco or the more US tradition of cheddar.)  I just prefer the monterey jack because you can find it in any grocery store.

 

enchilada6Bake for 15 minutes at 350º — just long enough to melt the cheese over the enchiladas.

 

 

 

 

 

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Guilt Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

chocolate smoothieLast night, about 10 pm, all I could think about was pizza. Ordering pizza was the last thing I needed to do at that hour — it would blow a weeks diet and probably make me sick in the end.

After fighting the urge until 11 pm I finally opted for a homemade smoothie and that actually did the trick.

The vegetable smoothie and the fruit smoothie are a staple in my diet, but trying to concoct a gourmet sweet drink without the calories took a little thought — but thankfully not much effort. Here’s my chocolate peanut butter smoothie recipe!

Guilt Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Recipe Type: Smoothie
Author: Mary Sage
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
This is a quick, no guilt craving killer.
Ingredients
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tbsp natual peanut butter
  • 1 cup ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Combine everything in the blender or Ninja IQ 1100. Blend on high until smooth.
  2. Makes 2 servings — but that’s only if you really want to share.

This basic recipe can be altered easily by substituting coconut milk (get the canned version) for the almond milk and leaving out the peanut butter for a wonderful chocolate coconut treat.

Another version of this smoothie is a double chocolate.  Elminiate the peanut butter and substitute 1/4 cup of mini chocolate morsals or sugar free chocolate flavored syrup.

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The top 5 best kitchen knives to buy now

Save $5 on $50 or more + FREE Shipping at CHEFS CatalogIf you’re serious about cooking, it’s time to upgrade your knives. The  Chefs Catalog summer sale is going on through July 13th and includes deals on kitchen knives, including what we consider the 5 best knives to buy this year.  Every order ships free during this sale!

When you decide that you deserve quality knives, you realize that those old dull blades are far more dangerous than they are efficient.  Sharp knives made of single-forged steel blades will give you years of service and dramatically enhance the cooking experience.

When choosing the right knives, consider if they are well balanced and weighted.  Are the handles comfortable and a good fit. Are the blades made of quality grade steel and durable.  Will these knives last?

Here’s our list of the 5 best kitchen knives to buy right now , in the order that you should buy them.

[table id=5 /]

Our list includes the 5 best kitchen knives based on their multi-tasking and usefulness in the home kitchen.  But if you can only afford to buy one knife this year, the most valuable knife is one of our multi-tasking favorites.

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Cuisinart GR-300WS Griddler Elite Grill Review

A professional series Panini Maker and more

A professional series Panini Maker and more

This Cuisinart GR-300WS indoor grill turns out professional sandwiches, burgers and so much more!

Like last year’s GR-4N, this new GR-300WS grill replaces many pans and becomes the convienient weekdate indoor grill options.  They’ve made big improvements on the original design–adding digital temperature gauge, top and bottom sear options at 500 degrees, and more interchangeable plates.

As much as I like the new features, they come with a pretty hefty price increase.  The GR-4N cost right around $100.00.  The Cuisinart GR-300WS starts at just under $200.00 normally and Amazon currently has a $20.00 off coupon currently.  My experience with this grill is that the $199.00 price tag is still a good value.  But not every home chef needs these limitless features for everyday cooking.

The Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler and the new Cuisinart GR-300WS both have these features in common:

  • Ability to do multiple jobs inthe kitchen (not just a sandwich maker but a grill or flat griddle when opened flat).
  • On board controls for top and bottom grill — although the WS-300 now boasts a more accurate digital temperature guide that goes all the way from 250 – 500 degrees.  The older model would only heat to 450 degrees.
  • Easy clean – both units have removable non-stick plates that are dish washer safe.
  • Compact and easy to store.
  • The new adjustable hinge has six preset widths to accommodate foods of varying thickness.
  • 240 square inches of grilling surface when laid out flat.
  • Time function plus auto shut-off after two hours (huge improvement).
  • Brushed stainless steel with cast-aluminum cooking plates.

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Mashed Cauliflower – carb and gluten free sides

0624151101cTime to celebrate meat and potato lovers, there’s finally a decent substitute to those high calorie mashed potatoes.   The figure-friendly cauliflower can be dressed up as a substitute and save you a lot of calories.

The problem with mashed potatoes isn’t the potato itself, but the amount of dairy that gets added to standard mashed potatoes that drives up the calorie count to more than 200 per 1-cup serving.  This version of garlic mashed cauliflower adds only 50 calories per cup!

Mashed Cauliflower – carb and gluten free side
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Mary sage
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and steam until cooked, approximately 12 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower steams, warm the olive oil in a small pan with the garlic.
  3. Puree about 1/3 of the cauliflower in a food processor with the olive oil and garlic until smooth. Addi another 1/3 of the cauliflower to the processed mixture with the parmesan. Finally add the last 1/3 installment with the cream cheese and process until soft and creamy.
  4. Salt to taste and serve warm.
Serving size: 1/2 cup Calories: 50 Fat: 3.2 Saturated fat: 1.6 Unsaturated fat: 1.4 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 2.8 Sugar: 0 Sodium: 878 Fiber: 1.1 Protein: 2.9 Cholesterol: 6.5
3.3.3077

I made these two nights ago and while it’s not your Grandma’s mashed potato taste, it passes.  Considering the calorie saving, it’s worth the sacrifice.

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