Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stick Up For Yourself As A Consumer

I'll let my email speak for itself...

"My parents had your "Tagnabbit" quick release on their dog's collar. I thought how ingenious as my dogs tends to wear the same collar all their lives, because I don't want to bend those wires to take off the tags.

I ran straight out and bought one in April 2011. Less than a week later my teen said "Mom here's Little Stars tags."  She was holding them in her hand. Shocked I looked at the gadget and surmised that my husband had put the leash through it. I had warned every one it was for tags only not the leash. Hubby and I got in a mini argument. He claiming he had NOT put the leash through it. I just figured he accidently did. No more arguing. I pushed the metal lever back to it's original place and went on with life.  About every week or so the tags would be found laying some where in the house.
One at left possible leash damage operator error.  One on right snapped right off sending tags all over floor.

Finally, in July I bought another figuring operator error on the first one. We know better. This is still a very cool dog tag holder.

Not one week later I find my dog's tags laying on the floor. This time not the Tagnabbit, but each individual tag. The Tagnabbit's bottom metal bit had broken off some how. Not the spring loaded piece, but the whole bottom piece sheared off at top puppy paw piece. I have a picture if wanted.
Now I'm wondering "hmmm maybe this isn't operator error, but a defective product." I have a middle aged, liver damaged, gimpy legged 23 pound dog hardly a candidate for rough treatment of the product.

What are your thoughts?"

I received a quick reply back from the company...

"Thank you for the product feedback regarding the Tagnabbitt. There was a "run" of this product where our supplier did not meet particular specifications. Unfortunately, there is no lot number to track the item that were affected, which leaves us to address the end-user as we receive the complaints. We are looking to receive the revised product by month end. If you will provide your mailing information, customer service will send one to your attention, when they are received.
Best regards,
On-Line consumer Services

I thanked them for their quick reply and sent my address.  Honestly, I thought it would be a long time or not at all that I'd receive a replacement.  I wasn't really looking for a replacement as much as I wanted to let them know how their product was holding up in the real world.

On August 24th I received 2 Tagnabbits and a dog treat in the mail to my great surprise.  Less than 2 weeks from my product review to the company I had 2 new dog tag holders.  So, if you're looking for items for your pet I'd recommend Petmate products.  Their customer service is awesome.  Now to test this one out.

UPDATE 10/23/11:  I started using one of the new Tagnabbits.  It wasn't too long after that I found my dog's ID tag on the floor.  This happen several more times where I'd find just the ID, but the dog license and rabies tag stayed on the Tagnabbit attached to my dog's collar.  I had what my friend's and I call "evil ESP" about the situation.  I had a feeling I should take the Tagnabbit off and secure the tags to my dog's collar the old fashioned way, but I didn't.  Well, it bit me in the butt.  All my dog's tags with the Tagnabbit are now gone.  We can't find it any where.  Is it in the house?  Is it in the backyard?  We've looked and can't find the tags any where.  They are here some where and will show up one day.  I'm starting to replace the tags as I don't have time to wait for that day to come.  So, bottom line don't buy a Tagnabbit.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cherry Cake for the 17th time!

OK it's really the 11th time, but my daughter turned 17 and again she wanted her favorite cake.  My plan this year was to do something a little different like make it into an ice cream cake.  She decided though that she wanted to spend time on the lake with her friends for her birthday.  Sounded like fun to me, but ice cream would not do well at the lake.  I didn't know if any of them were going to come back to the house, so it was time for plan B.

Left on a kayak.
Came back on a paddle board.

I got to thinking that cupcakes would be a great plan.  I'd never made cupcakes out of this recipe and was a little afraid that it might be too soft of a recipe for cupcake wrappers.  I hate it when you peel the wrapper off a cupcake and half of the cupcake sticks to the wrapper.  You then feel the need to scrap the cake off the wrapper with your teeth eating some of the wrapper in the process.  I wasn't sure if this wasn't going to turn into one of those times, BUT one doesn't know if they don't try.

The recipe made 21 cupcakes.  Now what to do with the frosting.  I made the frosting as the recipe said.  The cupcakes did cool off by the time I got the frosting done.  This turned out to be a good thing.  I decided to dip the top of the cupcakes into the hot frosting.  Sort of a dip, pick up and twirl keeping the frosting on the cake and not on the wrapper.  It worked out great.  I let the cupcakes sit and the frosting cooled to a really nice semi hard shell.  Perfect for placing plastic wrap over on a tray and taking to the lake.  Turned out they peeled out of their wrapper perfectly.  The frosting layer was the perfect amount of frosting according to my daughter.  We may have found a great new way to serve her favorite birthday treat.
All the wrappers ended up in front of Diana and they started saying "Diana save some cupcakes for the rest of us."

I took 18 cupcakes to the lake for 7 teens. I sent an easy picnic lunch with them for their trip, but knew they'd be hungry when they returned. Thirsty and starving is what they said when they returned. I had an ice chest with cold drinks and 18 cupcakes that they promptly devoured.

Chocolate Fudge Cherry Cake
1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 can cherry pie filling
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond flavoring (optional) (It's not really optional you must use it.)

1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
6 oz package of semisweet chocolate chips

Mix cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and flavoring by hand. Pour batter into greased and floured 13x9x2-inch pan and bake at 350° about 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. (Bundt shaped pan works great just takes a little longer to bake.)
For frosting, place sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour over warm cake.

Lynne's Note:  Cupcakes take 1/2 the time to bake.  While they are cooling prepare frosting.  Holding bottom of cupcake dip just the cake part of cupcake in frosting.  Pull up, twist and do a 1/2 twirl so string of frosting breaks and frosting stays only on top of cupcake.  Let all cupcakes sit not touching one another.  Frosting will harden to a beautiful chocolate shell that does not stick to plastic wrap.

PS.  BTW they all came back to the house.  Cell phone out daughter calling her dad, "Could you pretty please order 3 pizzas."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

State Fair Frittata

2 years ago DH and walked around the 2009 State Fair by ourselves.  This hadn't happened in about 15 years.  Our teens were off with their friends.  We happened upon a cooking demo that smelled so good before it even began.  We decided to stay and see what they were cooking.  I took notes all along knowing I'd like to try this recipe at home.  They were demonstrating for Del Monte canned foods particularly their canned potatoes.  I've always thought canned potatoes would be terrible.

They said not to worry the recipe would be on their website soon.  I checked their website for 6 months.  As far as I could tell it never arrived.  I was so glad I wrote down the recipe.  Every now and then I can't find it though.  Like tonight I had a mini panic.  I finally found it in my email.  Where the printed copy in my recipe file went I don't know.  I might be in there as I'm not really sure how to file this recipe.... under eggs, pork (for the bacon), potatoes, breakfast, or dinner?

We eat it for dinner.  It's a very easy recipe, but a bit fussy to make.  I discovered that canned potatoes are very good, which was what Del Monte was trying to prove.

State Fair Frittata

1 pound of bacon, diced and cooked until crisp
½ onion, diced
1T bacon fat
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 T cilantro, coarsely chopped
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of marjoram
Salt & Pepper to Taste
2 T bacon fat
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 cans of Del Monte sliced potatoes drained and dried of all water
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of marjoram
Salt & Pepper to Taste
9 eggs
½ cup cream
pinch of salt
Nonstick Cooking Spray
¾ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
¾ Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Optional - 3 sliced avocados
Green onions, sliced

Preheat Oven to 500 degrees.

Heat 12 inch nonstick skillet over med. high heat.  Add bacon.  Cook until crisp and drain.  Set aside and reserve fat.

Meanwhile, in smaller skillet prepare sauce by sauteing onion in tablespoon of bacon fat.  Once translucent add tomato sauce, cilantro, pinch of oregano, pinch of marjoram and salt and pepper to taste.  Let simmer on low.

In 12 inch skillet add 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.  Sauté red pepper and green pepper.  After they have sautéed for a few minutes add dried potatoes.  Continue to sauté adding pinch of oregano, pinch of marjoram and salt and pepper to taste.

Beat eggs and cream together, add pinch of salt and whisk again. Set aside and spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle pan with sautéed pepper/potato mixture.  Sprinkle cooked bacon over top.  Pour egg mixture over top.  Top with cheese and place in oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted, bubbly and slightly brown. Cut into rectangles, top with tomato sauce, avocados, green onions and serve.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hidden Valley Ranch Pretzels

Had these pretzels at a potluck end of season flag football party.  They were SO good.  Didn't know who brought them, but with my investigative skills I was able to find a recipe online.  About once a year I make up a full batch.  It makes a lot of pretzels.  I make them when there are going to be a lot of people around as they are so good and so not good for you.

Hidden Valley Ranch Pretzels

2 lb. of Pretzels
1 bottle of Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Butter Oil
1 package of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing Mix (milk recipe)
1 teaspoons lemon pepper (can use garlic powder and/or onion powder if one prefers)

Mix oil and seasonings together. In a large container mix pretzels and oil mixture. (I like to use 2 - 1 gallon ziploc bags.)
Allow pretzels to sit for 24 hours, tossing a few times a day.  You'll see all the oil absorbing.

Every time you go into the kitchen gave the bags a flip.

The Mythical Guy Fieri's Costco Tri-Tip

OK it's not exactly mythical, but the fact that I can't find it again or prove that I've had one has moved it to that category.  Last month BEFORE my surgery I bought a marinated tri-tip at Costco with Guy Fieri's name on it.  They were sampling it and it was delicious.  We promptly threw it on the grill that night.  It was SO good and so small the 3 of us ate all of it that night. It was my husband, daughter and I here that night.  So, my son teases that there was some form of mass hallucinations going on regarding the delicious tri-tip we all won't stop talking about.

I figured I fix his butt and buy another one.  Can't find it.  Not only that I have no idea what it was called other than Guy Fieri's name was on it.  Who is Guy Fieri?  He's a Food Network Star.  Literally!  He won the first season of "The Next Food Network Star" and has been quite a character on that network ever since.

So, I did a search online thinking I could come up with a name of this mythical tri-tip and I really couldn't find too much.  I did find his recipe for Santa Marie Tri-Tip that kind of seems like it might be what we had.  One thing I remember vividly was in was marinating in an orange liquid in the package.  This recipe calls for an orange oil called Achiote Oil.

Last night I had gathered all my ingredients.  Achiote seeds from the Mexican grocery store, lots of garlic and cracked black pepper.  I made the Achiote Oil per Guy's instructions on the recipe.  That was easy.  Then followed the recipe.
Right now the tri-tip is in the refrigerator for it's 24 hour sit.  Quite honestly all the pepper and salt have me a bit frighten that it will not be edible, but I can't see Guy steering me wrong.

Update:  Very tasty.  Nothing like Costco tri-tip.  Very salty, but not too peppery.  If I were to do this again I'd cut the salt back.