I missed the past two weeks of Thursday Things and instead present you with Friday Things:

1. Chalkboard Wall Planter, $129.95 from Williams-Sonoma. Bring your wall to life with a stunning vertical herb garden that attaches to the wall. Fill the cells with the herb of your choice, water as needed through the top irrigator and watch things grow.

Chalkboard Wall Planter

From here: “Vertical gardening” (not to be confused with vertical farming) offers terrific, small-scale solutions to the home gardener who is challenged by space, loves to experiment, may have physical limitations that make crouching and digging in the yard difficult, or who wants to incorporate eye-catching, conversation-starting four-season food-growing as a design element into his or her home decor.”

Chalkboard Wall Planter

2. If you have any lingering Halloween candy, check out the Huffington Post’s feature, Halloween Candy Recipes: What To Do with your Halloween Loot with 18 recipes to help put any remnants from your sugary stash to use.

They featured my Mounds Bar Chocolate Coconut Cake Mix Cookies on Slide 5

Mounds Bar Chocolate Coconut Cake Mix Cookies

And my Snickers Bars Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies on Slide 14

Snickers Bars Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

3. This article on Chow, although a few years old, explains why I never buy salted butter. When comparing one tablespoon of salted butter from seven popular brands, the sodium ranged from 45mg to 115mg.  That’s a huge range in one singular tablespoon.

In doing the math on a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), that’s up to a 560mg difference. I would never want cookies, cakes, or even potatoes baked with 560 extra milligrams of sodium, let alone any that I didn’t put in myself, which is why I only purchase unsalted butter so that I can control how much, if any, salt goes into my food. I would cringe at the thought of putting time, energy, and other valuable ingredients into a recipe only to have it emerge from the oven tasting like a salt slick from the butter.

It’s the same principle as self-rising flour; I have no idea how much baking powder or baking soda is in one cup, or if within the same bag it’s even distributed, which is why I don’t buy that either.


4. I recently received this 8-piece cookware set from BlueStar. Scott and I got married almost 12 years ago in Vegas and I never had a bridal shower or a wedding registry. For the past decade-plus, I’ve been using a piece-mealed set of cookware and so it was especially nice to receive this professional, restaurant-grade stainless steel set that performs beautifully. The four pieces all have lids and everything even matches, something new for me.

One feature I especially love are the ergonomic handles that stay cool when cooking on the stovetop. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve burned my hands on my old cookware, thinking the handle couldn’t possibly have been that hot, but it was. It’s all dishwasher safe and is manufactured to complement BlueStar’s high-heat professional quality cooking ranges, broilers, and “>stove-ovens and can be used in up to a 500F oven.

Fresh cranberries made an appearance in my local grocery store and I made a batch of this Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney in the 2-quart saucepan and it turned out perfectly. And even after a lengthy simmering, the handle stayed nice and cool.

8-piece cookware set from BlueStar

5. Harry and David Pick 4 Appetizers, $31.80 would make a nice hostess gift.  There’s a Merlot-Laced Artichokes spread that I have my eye on.

Pick 4 Appetizers

6. I love America’s Test Kitchen and the work they do. As part of the Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country family, ATK is dedicated to making every recipe the best it can be. They stop at nothing in perfecting, testing, and trialing ingredients for something as simple as a potato salad recipe. What kind of potatoes to use; red, Yukon gold, Russets; how long they should be boiled, peeled first, peeled later; what the mayonnaise-ish mixture should be and should it be mayo, sour cream and how much; what herbs to use and in what ratios; it goes on and on, with every single recipe.

The complexities of testing something like say cinnamon rolls, with a yeast-based dough, filling, frosting, it makes my head spin with the combinations and permutations. They do the testing, trialing, and experimenting, making every dish hundreds of times so you don’t have to. They’re much culinary heroes. Here are their Top 10 posts on their site.

Imagine my delight when I saw their recent tweet to me after seeing my Chocolate Chip Cookies and review post. Seriously, it made my week.

Tweet from America's Test Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite and most-used cookbooks is The Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition

The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition

7. If you’ve been making as much bread as I have, then recipes to re-purpose it come in handy.

cinnamon swirl bread

This Bread-and-Butter Pudding with Caramelized Pears fromWilliams-Sonoma uses just four eggs instead of a dozen. And I love seeing pears amidst the sea of pumpkin this time of year.

Bread-and-Butter Pudding with Caramelized Pears

Yes, this sea of pumpkin but only two eggs in the Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter – A perfect make-ahead recipe so there’s no work in the morning you just bake it off, perfect for lazy weekends or holiday gatherings

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter

8. Voting ended in the SkinnyScoop contest and I was voted one of the Top 25 Recipe Blogs

Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to SkinnyScoop for the award.

9. If  you needThanksgiving recipes, here’s a free download for the e-book, 8 Classic Recipes for the Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes eCookbook. Two of my recipes are featured in it, including this soup and this side salad

8 Classic Recipes for the Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes eCookbook.

I still don’t know exactly what I’m making for Thanksgiving but I will likely skip the pumpkin pie and this Pumpkin Bunt Cake with Chocolate Ganache instead. It’s one-bowl, goofproof, unfussy and it trumps pumpkin pie for me

Pumpkin Bunt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Or skip, I may pumpkin all-together and cut to the cranberries with Cranberry Bliss Bars. They’re a Starbucks copycat recipe and one of the best things I’ve made this fall, and perfect for a holiday dessert.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

10. How cool is this Woodgrain Pitcher, $398 Anthropologie. To make this nature-inspired pitcher, the artist applied white porcelain to clay slabs, then stretched it to crack and open the brushwork strokes. For that price, it better pay my water bill all year for me, but it sure would make a great conversation piece sitting on the table.

Woodgrain Pitcher

What are your Friday Things?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Do you grow herbs indoors? Salted or unsalted butter? Do you know what you’re making for Thanksgiving – or are you just showing for the eating part without the cooking?

It’s one meal, one day, and we have a family of three so I’m going to try to keep things on a small-scale. Try at least.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for a couple giveaways over the weekend.

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