Sandra Lee 2013 Calendar


Gift Guide Age Recommendation:­  21+




             First off, I’m going to give you a heads up.  This is not your typical calendar.  This does not have open boxes for your to hand write your appointments.  This is more of a recipe box with recommendations as to what day to serve them.  The box contains 157 recipes for 365 days.  So, you have 3 recipes per week.  The recipes span several genres.  Some are main courses, some appetizers, some desserts, some are beverages, etc…   All the recipe cards are 4×6. 


            I’m really happy that the recipes follow the seasons very well.  You will get recipes for English Popovers and Berry Crumble during the winter months and slowly transition to Blue Corn Chip Nachos and Lush Lemon in the summer.  I also like that there are only 3 recipes per week.  So, when I do my meal planning I can reference them and see if I want to try one, two or all three recipes that week.  If I have a busy week, I might not do the recommended dessert.  But, I have the option of taking that card and saving it in a recipe box for later!  Or, if it is a recipe that will not work for my family (my husband HATES cilantro), I can pitch the recipe card when the day has passed.  Overall, I like this calendar.  I’ve already found a few recipes that I want to try.  I think that the Ham and Cheese Souffle will be made long before March 6th gets here! 


            Santa’s elves unsure what to put in Chef Dad’s stocking?  The size of this gift lends itself for use as a stocking stuffer! Not sure what to get your sister-in-law?  Need to beef up your gift to a mom in your life?  I think that any home cook would be happy to have this calendar assist them in their meal planning.  Also, I see this as a great gift for anyone who likes to entertain, likes variety in their foods, or is new to cooking and is in need of easy, delicious meal ideas.  There are quite a few alcoholic drink recipes, so maybe it would be best to keep this to the over 21 crowd. 


Where to Buy

 The Recipe Calendar sells for $ 14.99 and  can be purchased at


 Reviewed by: Nicole


Note: Sandra Lee supplied me with one Sandra Lee 2013 Calendar for review.  No other compensation was received.  The review in this post is honest and my own.






****Contest Closed*****”It’s Not You, It’s Brie” Book Giveaway

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kirstin Jackson, author of  ” It’s Not You, It’s Brie:  Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese”.   I had a lot of fun chatting with Kirstin.  It could be because I love cheese.  I love to shop for cheese, I love to smell cheese as its cooking, I love to eat cheese, I love pairing cheese with wine….you get the idea.  Right?  I LOVE cheese.  But, I discovered something else about myself recently.  I also love reading about America’s cheese culture.  And, I think you will too.

I have one (1) copy of “It’s Not You, It’s Brie:  Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese” to give away. Would you like to provide it with a new home?


To enter the giveaway, just answer the following question in the “Speak Your Mind” section at the bottom of this post:

“What is the best cheese you have ever eaten?”

Are you one of those souls who enjoy a simple, aged cheddar?  Or do you – like me – prefer warm brie on a gourmet cracker?  Perhaps you are a squeeze cheese enthusiast ( I won’t judge!) or a cheese gourmand who has a cheese monger on speed dial.  Any way you slice it, I want to know the best cheese you’ve eaten!

Note:  If you are lactose intolerant, or just don’t like cheese, no problem!  Just say something along the lines of “hello” and you’re good to go.


One entry per person, please.

Giveaway begins Monday November 5, 2012 and ends Thursday November 15, 2012 at 8 pm CST.

The winner will be chosen by and announced on Friday November 16, 2012.

Winner must email with their name and mailing address.

Note:  Giveaway sponsored by Penguin Group.  Thank you!




Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog

‘Tis the Season!  It’s the Holidays and it’s time to celebrate with family and friends!  Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog is absolutely delicious and is great to keep on hand during this time of year for easy entertaining or for unexpected guests.  

To watch our Video Review , click here:  Bolthouse Holiday Nog 

Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and retails for $ 6.00 per bottle.  The Holiday Nog offers a guilt free option to Egg Nog – with only 80 calories per serving!  It has the same great creamy taste of regular Egg Nog – with just a hint of nutmeg – for a true holiday treat.

You can enjoy the Holiday Nog as is, or spike it with a little Brandy for  festive sipping!  Visit their website for other great ideas :

I liked Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog so much, it inspired me to remake my Brandy Alexander Recipe into Egg Nog Alexander – with Vanilla ice cream, Brandy and Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog.  You can find the recipe for Egg Nog Alexander under a separate post.

‘Tis the season to be merry, so enjoy some Holiday Nog with  your family and friends!


Bolthouse Farms graciously provided samples for us to review and this is my personal opinion which is true and honest.  No compensation received.  

Vickie Meets Chef Eric Lanlard

Chef Eric Lanlard, famous UK bakery chef who is also known as “ Cake Boy“, has been on a whirlwind  U.S. book tour promoting his latest book, Tart It Up!.  I must admit, even the name of the cookbook intrigued me.  But,  when the chance to meet Chef Eric was coupled with the opportunity to tour the Nielsen Massey Vanilla plant in Waukegan, Il AND meet Beth, Matt and Craig Nielsen–this girl was in the car, headed to Waukegan!

Vickie with Chef Eric Lanlard

Chef Eric’s new book, Tart It Up!, is full of over 75 savory and sweet pie and tart recipes.  Chef Eric says, ”  In this book you will find not only great recipes and tips for making the best pastry but also the inspiration for delicious tarts and pies that I’ve collected over the years…..I hope you will like them as much as my friends do.”

 The Nielsen-Massey event was attended by media and food bloggers along with a bus load load of French pastry students from the Culinary Institute.  It was so exciting to watch Chef Eric create his baking masterpieces and listen as he shared his passion for pastry with us.    

The Tart It Up!  Event and the tour of the Nielsen Massey plant can be found under my other posts.

“Nielsen Massey Event:  Tart It Up! :  Big Success”

“Everything’s Coming up Vanilla Beans….At Nielsen Massey!”

Tart It Up!   by Eric Lanlard. ( Octopus Books:  July 2012)  $ 19.99 



Lobel’s Prime Dry Aged Beef

What could be a better gift than Lobel’s prime dry-aged beef?  As many of you know, my oldest daughter, Nicole, and her husband Luke, lived just outside of Manhattan for several years.  They introduced me to many gourmet delights on my visits to New York.  I was delighted when I was asked to review Lobel’s of New York for our Holiday Gift Guide.  

You can view the video review by clicking here:  Lobel’s Prime Dry Aged
  Video Review

For more than half a century, Lobel’s has provided  the finest and freshest meats money can buy.  Their slogan, “Tasting is Believing” is certainly true.

I must admit that I am no stranger to steaks and I can honestly say that the Lobel’s fillet was the best!

The great thing about Lobel’s is that you don’t have to live in Manhattan  to enjoy these delicious cuts of meat.  With one phone call — or the click of your computer button — Lobel’s will deliver the prime dry-aged beef overnight to your front door.

Stanley Lobel – Renowned Butcher

 This makes  Lobel’s a great choice for Holiday gift giving.  Lobel’s offers three options for gift giving.  You can purchase a gift certificate for a specified dollar amount;  a gift certificate for specific items;  or you can order the items and have them delivered to your recipient on the date you specify.

All Lobel orders are delivered in style and packed on ice packs for perfect temperature control.

Every steak is hand cut  by Lobel’s butchers and delivered right to your door!

For more information about the Lobel’s family tradition, products available and recipes,  click here:  Lobel’s .com  

I loved the online Lobel Family Guide to Grilling.  To download your copy, click here:  Lobel’s Guide to Grilling.

I followed the Lobel’s Guide to Grilling the Perfect Steak:

Bring steaks to room temperature; pat dry with a paper towel.

Preheat grill to maximum temperature.

 Rub both sides of the steak with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the steaks 3 to 5 inches from the flame to sear the outside and seal in the juices.

Sear the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

After searing, remove from heat and brush with olive oil.  Return the steaks to the grill and cook on both sides to desired doneness.

Transfer the steaks to plates and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.  

To order Lobel’s Prime Dry Aged Beef as holiday gifts or for your own family dinners or holiday entertaining, call toll-free:  800-556-2357 or visit Lobel’s on line at

Note:  We were provided with a sample of the Lobel’s Prime Dry Aged beef for our review.  Our true and honest opinions have been expressed.  We did not receive compensation for this review.





Prime Rib with Herb Blend Crust and Horseradish Sauce

Prime Rib with Herb Crust and Horseradish Sauce is delicious and impressive.  I love to serve this for dinner parties or special family occasions.  Have your butcher cut the prime rib roast for you.  I always bake at least a 5 pound roast.  You can allow 1/2 pound per person when ordering the roast.  If you would like to serve wine with this dinner, The Velvet Palate recommends  Cicchitti – a Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina.  (Tasting Notes)

To view the YouTube step by step tutorial video for this recipe, click here:  Prime Rib with Herb Blend Crust and Horseradish Sauce

Prime Rib with Herb Blend Crust and Horseradish Sauce
Serves: 8 to 10
  • 5 to 6 pound boneless prime rib roast ( or larger)
  • ½ cup Kosher or Sea salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoon parsley
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup dried rosemary
  • ¼ cup dried red chilis
  • 2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • olive oil to rub on roast
  • Horseradish sauce: Sour cream and horseradish
  1. Blend the salt, lemon zest, parsley,sun dried tomatoes, rosemary,dried red chilis, black pepper, dry mustard, dried basil and vegetable oil together and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool. (Note: you can do this step a day or two ahead of time and store the herb blend in a zip lock bag)
  2. Let the prime rib roast come to room temperature and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Coat the roast with the Herb Blend.
  4. Place in a 450 degree oven and bake prime rib for ½ hour then turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes per pound.
  5. It will be perfectly medium rare at the end of the cooking time.
  6. To make the horseradish sauce, combine 1 cup of sour cream with 3 to 5 tablespoons of horseradish. Serve with the prime rib.

Combine the salt, lemon zest, parsley, sun dried tomatoes, rosemary, red chilis, pepper, dry mustard, dreid basil and vegetable oil in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Baked herb blend…..

Let the prime rib come to room temperature and place in roasting pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and pat the herb blend on the roast.

Ready for the oven…..

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bake prime rib for 1/2 hour and then turn the oven down to 325 degrees.  Roast for 15 minutes per pound.  The roast will be perfectly cooked to medium rare.

To make the horseradish sauce, combine 1 cup of sour cream and 3 to 5 tablespoons of horseradish.  Serve with the prime rib.


Enjoy this prime rib with a wonderful dry red wine.

Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie is a decadent appetizer that can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is sure to impress your guests!  What could be better than the gooey savory flavor of warm brie hot out of the oven – topped with the sweet delight of orange praline topping!

To view the YouTube step by step cooking tutorial for this recipe, click here:  Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 8 oz OR 13 oz round of brie cheese
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Crackers or toasted baguette-style French bread for serving
  1. Place pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast.
  2. Trim top rind from brie round .
  3. Place brie in baking dish.
  4. Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl, Spread on top of the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.
  7. Serve with crackers or bread slices.


Place the pecans in a baking dish and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Trim the top off of the brie round.

Place the round in an ovenproof baking dish.

Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping on the brie.

Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve.

Praline Topped Brie hot out of the oven:

Serve with crackers or hot bread.  Enjoy!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  


Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie

No dessert speaks to me like pecan pie!  I can’t resist it. I’ve even been known to have it for breakfast ( but don’t tell anyone) !  My Mom always made a good old fashioned pecan pie every Thanksgiving and every Christmas.  I still make pecan pie for special holidays but I don’t reserve it only for special occasions.  It is so quick and easy to make – you can have it anytime!  In fact, the filling only has 6 ingredients and you can whip it up in about 5 minutes.  Here is my Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie recipe:

Mom's Old Fashioned Pecan Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Pie
Serves: 8
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup Karo light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter.
  2. Add beaten eggs, chopped pecans and vanilla to the syrup mixture, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. (Note: Since this is a high sugar content pie, sprinkle a little flour on each side of the pie dough before putting it into the pie plate.)
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover the edges with aluminum foil or a pie crust protector to prevent burning.
  5. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

Click the link to view the YouTube How-To Tutorial for this recipe:  Vickie’s Mom’s Old Fashioned Pecan Pie 


Combine the sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter.  Stir well.

Add beaten eggs, vanilla and chopped pecans to syrup mixture, mixing thoroughly.  

Bring the refrigerated pie crust to room temperature and unroll.  Sprinkle both sides of the pie dough with flour.  Place into the pie pan and flute edges.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  NOTE:  After 20 minutes, put strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie or use a pie protector to prevent the edges from burning.

After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Let the pie cool before serving.

Here is the pie— hot out of the oven.  (Notice my vintage pot holders?  My daughter, Nicole, made these for me when she was a little girl ( now she is a Mom too) and I love using my handmade pot holders !)


Vickie’s Almost Famous Chili

Fall is for football games, pumpkins and mums at the front door and a big pot of Chili simmering on the stove.   I was in a Chili Cook Off  years ago with several girlfriends and I discovered that there are about as many recipes for Chili as there are people who love it!  We called our team “The Red Hot Chili Peppers”.  Our recipe had about 25 ingredients and cooked all afternoon.  We won the Chili Cook Off but I’m sure none of us ever made that Chili recipe again because it had too many ingredients and cooked too long for all of our busy schedules.  That’s why I call my recipe “Almost Famous”.  I never won a Chili Cook Off with this recipe – but it scored big with everyone who has ever tasted it.

This recipe only has to simmer 15 minutes – so it can easily be cooked after a long day at work.  So, grab your Chili pot and get ready to round up some great chili for your gang!


Vickie's Almost Famous Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces chili beans ( I use medium, but feel free to use mild or hot)
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons instant dried onion flakes
  • 2 packages chili seasoning packets ( that are supposed to each season 1 pound of beef)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Condiments to sprinkle on top of each bowl of chili: chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese
  1. Brown ground beef and drain well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to blend well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve piping hot with the condiments sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Brown the ground beef and drain well.

Add the remaining chili ingredients and stir to blend well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Ladle up a big bowl of this yummy chili and serve it topped with chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, a big dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!



Make Life Special is now a YouTube Partner

Make Life Special launched YouTube videos on July 31, 2012.  The how-to tutorial videos feature recipes from this website.  We were notified on October 7, 2012 that Make Life Special has been accepted as a new YouTube Partner.  YouTube offers Partner status based on relevant content , popularity of the videos and the level of commitment to adding and maintaining the videos.   You can view the videos on YouTube by going to our channel:  MakeLifeSpecial : Visit in Vickie’s Kitchen.  New videos are being added every week.



Make Life Special
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