Monday, December 20, 2010

The incomparable peanut butter kiss cookies!

It was a shock to me that I became known for these cookies where I used to work. It would go "oh wow, you're a great baker! You make those peanut butter cookies with the kisses right?". I would dumbfoundedly respond that yes I do make those, but think to myself, "who doesn't?". Therefore, I decided that this recipe was worthy of a post.

1 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 9oz. packages milk chocolate candy kisses (unwrapped)
extra sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In an electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter on medium. Gradually add the sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients mixture gradually.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls (you'll want to stick to this size so that you maintain a good ration of dough to chocolate later on). Roll each dough ball in the extra sugar to coat. Place the dough balls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and press a kiss into the top of each cookie and return to the oven for 2 more minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

~Adapted from a recipe on by MizzNezz. See title link for original recipe.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My good friend Shannon told me one day how much she liked snickerdoodles and I had to think if I had ever had one. I went to my stack of baking books and found what seemed to be the most promising. Lots of butter and the name "Martha Stewart" made these the clear winners. By the way, Shannon approves.

2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Cream butter and 1 1/2 c. sugar on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 T. sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 20 1 3/4 inch balls (the photo shows cookies rolled into 1 inch balls). Roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets(crucial as they spread a lot) lined with parchment paper (if you don't have parchment paper, just spray your sheets with non-stick baking spray).

Bake cookies, until slightly firmed at the edges 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

The cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temp for up to three days.

~ Original recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Every year my mother asked my brother and me which cookie we wanted for Christmas, and every year she got the same answer. Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. Simply put, in my opinion, these are the best cookies out there.

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries, halved, reserving juice
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

In a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Heat till chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 T. of the cherry juice. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. Cream butter and sugar in mixer on low. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat until blended.

Shape in to 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indent in each with your thumb. Place 1 cherry half in the center of each cookie and then spoon 1 tsp of the frosting over each cookie. If the frosting has hardened, turn your burner back on low for about 1 minute and it should soften right up.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen

~ You can thin the chocolate with extra cherry juice.

~I've never seen this recipe printed anywhere, although my mother tells me that it originally comes from Better Homes and Gardens, sometime in the early 1980s.

Cherry Garcia and Kit-Kat ice creams

I love making ice cream at home. It's easy and super delicious. My lovely sister-in-law gave me one of my favorite gifts ever when she got me my Cuisinart ice cream maker AND an extra bowl! Therefore, I can make two flavors in one day, which I did.

Cherry Garcia
1/4 c. shaved plain chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark)
1/4 maraschino cherries, halved (original recipe calls for Bing or canned, neither of which I had)
2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk

1. Place the Shaved chocolate flakes and cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 more minute. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

3. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

4. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it's done), add the chocolate and the cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

~Adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Kit Kat ice cream

2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk

4 1.6 oz Kit-Kat bars ( I used 11 fun-sized ones)
2 t. vanilla

1. Cut the Kit-Kat bars into bite sized pieces and store in the refrigerator.

2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour n the cream, milk and vanilla, and whisk to blend. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

3. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chopped candy, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

~Adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Both recipes make slightly more then 4 cups, with the Kit-Kat recipe making slightly more than the cherry one.

Please note that it is best (in my opinion) to use pasteurized eggs in these recipes as they are not cooked. Using the pasteurized eggs basically eliminates the chance of salmonella poisoning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese BONANZA!

Yes my three year old asked for macaroni and cheese for his birthday.  
Yes mommy went overboard.  

Basic Macaroni and Cheese


            1/2 pound elbow macaroni
            3 tablespoons butter
            3 tablespoons flour
            1 tablespoon powdered mustard
            3 cups milk
            1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
            1/2 teaspoon paprika
            24 ounces sharp cheddar {shredded}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.

Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Pizza Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…
            1 1/2 cups pizza or spaghetti sauce
            Black olives, pepperoni, optional garnish


Spoon half the Mac n' Cheese into a large casserole dish; spoon pizza sauce around edge of dish.  Spoon remaining Mac n' Cheese into center of pizza sauce.  Garnish top with optional sliced black olives and pepperoni. Top with remaining cheese.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…

            1 small onion, finely chopped
            2 stalks celery, finely chopped
            3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
            2 cloves garlic, minced
            3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
            2/3 cup sour cream 
            1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
            2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, add sour cream and cook until warm about 1 more minute.

Spread half of the macaroni in the large casserole dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Garnish top with blue cheese and parsley.

Chili Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…
            2 cups chili
            1 small can chopped green chilies


Spoon 1/2 the Mac n' Cheese into a large deep pie plate; spoon chili around edge of dish. Spoon remaining Mac n' Cheese into center of chili.  Bake for 30 minutes.   Garnish top with chilies. Top with remaining cheese.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Easy Roast Chicken

I vowed that I would never in my life make a chicken, turkey, quail, or any kind of bird that would require me sticking a hand inside of it. Luckily for me, my husband doesn't mind doing that and I now have a new favorite dinner. Roast Chicken. It's easy to prepare and even easier to eat. What's even better is all of the leftovers you can get out of it.

I forgot to take the picture when the chicken was fresh out of the oven, so half of it is missing. Also, don't mind the bottles in the background!

1 5-6 lb. roasting chicken
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half
4 T. butter, melted divided
1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
1 c. chicken stock
2 T. all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425.
Remove the giblets(or have your significant other do this). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, both halves of the lemon, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with 2 T. of melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chicken

Roast the chicken for 1.5 hours or until the juices run clear. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.

Remove all the fat from the bottom of the pan (my chickens never seem to leave any fat). Add the chicken stock to the pan and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan. Combine the 2 T. flour with the remaining 2 T. melted butter and add to the pan. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and season it to taste. Keep it warm over a very low flame while you carve the chicken.

Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve immediately with the warm gravy.

Original recipe can be found in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Leftover ideas: chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken salad sandwiches, chicken tamale casserole

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

My husband hates coconut. Gasp! I'm so happy when I have an opportunity to bake for a group of people who do like it, though, because when I do, I bake the macaroons. Soft and slightly chewy with delicious dark chocolate, these are one of my favorite treats.

21 oz. shredded sweetened coconut
3 T. sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup egg whites - about 5 eggs worth
heaping 1/4 t. cream of tartar
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. almond extract

6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, divided
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 T. shortening

Preheat the oven to 325 and spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray

Spread the coconut on rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring 3-4 times for about 10 minutes until beginning to brown. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and condensed milk until well blended and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat with a whisk shaped beater on low speed, the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until just opaque and soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 2 T. at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Increase the speed to high. Beat until the mixture forms very stiff, glossy peaks, about 2 minutes. Fold in the coconut until evenly incorporated.

Drop the mixture onto the baking sheets using a 1/4 c. measure, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake, one sheet at a time for 14-18 minutes. They will be done when the tops are slightly browned and are slightly firm to the touch of your finger. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand for a few minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the macaroons to wire rack and let stand until completely cooled (they will sink slightly during cooling). Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cooled.

In a small saucepan or double boiler, melt 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and shortening over low heat, or simmering water if using a double boiler, until just melted. Stir in the remaining 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, stirring until it melts and mixture has cooled to barely warm. Immediate dip the tops of chilled macaroons into the chocolate and shake off the excess. They are best with a thin layer of chocolate. Immediately transfer the sheet of macaroons to the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chocolate sets. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Store in a single layer in an airtight container in a cool place (but not the fridge) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month

Original recipe can be found in The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pear Tart



Store bought pie crusts.


3 medium pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1 teaspoon honey

Peel the pears, core them and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl toss the pear slices with the lemon juice. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and cinnamon and toss until the pears are evenly coated. Spread the crust over the tart pan and press into place.  Spread the pears in a circular pattern across the entire tart pan.

Preheat the oven at 425.  Bake the tart for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, keeping the tart in the oven all the while, and bake for another 40 minutes, until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.

When the tart is done remove it from the oven and brush the honey all over the top of the fruit and crust. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Cut into 6 wedges and serve warm or a room temperature.  Buon appetito!

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Chicken with Lemon Leek Linguine

6 oz. linguine
4 chicken breast halves
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. flour
3 T. butter
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. leeks, trimmed, cut in half and sliced
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. chopped parsley

Cook pasta, drain, and keep warm.

Pound chicken to an even thickness. Sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

Heat 1 T. butter in non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook about 5 min. per side until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Melt 1 T. butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, leek, and 1/4 t. salt. Saute.
Add lemon juice and chicken broth. Cook until reduced by half. Add 1 T. butter. Add pasta to leek mixture. Serve chicken over pasta. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Cooking Light
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Chicken Enchiladas


1/4 C chopped pecans
1/4 C chopped onion
2 T margarine or butter
1 4-ounce can diced green chili peppers, drained
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 T milk
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 C chopped cooked chicken
12 7-inch flour tortillas
1 10-3/4 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1 C milk
3/4 C shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
2 T chopped pecans


In a skillet cook the 1/4 cup pecans and the onion in margarine or
butter over medium heat until onion is tender and pecans are lightly
toasted.  Remove skillet from heat.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of the
canned green chili peppers.

In a medium mixing bowl combine softened cream cheese, the 1
tablespoon milk, and cumin; add nut mixture and chicken.  Stir until
combined.  Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto each
tortilla near an edge; roll up.  Place filled tortillas, seam sides
down, in a greased 3-quart rectangular baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl combine soup, sour cream, the 1 cup milk, and
remaining canned chili peppers.  Pour the soup mixture evenly over
the tortillas in the baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake in a 350
degree oven about 35 minutes or until heated through.  Remove foil.
Sprinkle enchiladas with Monterrey Jack cheese and the 2 tablespoons
pecans.  Return to oven and bake about 5 minutes more or until cheese
melts.  Makes 6 servings.  Buon appetito!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Paprikash


6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
4 cups spaetzle


Combine the chicken, onion, paprika and chicken broth.  Cook in the crock pot on low for 6-7 hours.  Before serving, shred the chicken and mix in the sour cream.  Saute the spaetzle with a small about of butter in a pan and serve with the chicken on top!  Buon appetito!

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Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup


1 1/2 pounds boneless lean beef, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
6 cups water
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup barley


Combine all ingredients in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred beef before serving.  Bake up some fresh bread and enjoy! Buon appetito!

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Mary’s Crock Pot Campfire Chili

2-3 lbs beef roast (or pork if you like)
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 (16oz) can kidney beans, with liquid
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1-2 tsp of chili powder


Combine all in crock-pot, run on LOW for 6-8 hours.  Remove meat and shred meat with a fork and return to the pot.  Serve and Enjoy!  Buon appetito!

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1 cup finely sifted flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Fruit Preserves or Whipped Cream or Powdered Sugar or Nutella or Bananas

Whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Top with your favorite topping.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Italian Pasta Salad

1 Box Tri Color Rotini
1 Package Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
10 Slices Salami - Chopped
1 Green Pepper - Chopped
1/2 Red Onion - Chopped
1 Package of Small Fresh Mozzarella - Chopped
1/2 c. Chopped Basil

1/2c. Olive Oil
1/4c. Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing,  Chill at least 3 hours before serving.   Buon appetito!

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Chicken Wraps


1 Burrito wrap
1/2c.  Cooked chicken
1/2c. Greens or Lettuce
1/4c.  Chopped Carrots
1/4c. Shredded Cheese
2tsp  Ranch Dressing

Stack all ingredients on top of the burrito wrap.  Roll up the wrap and wrap in saran wrap.  Enjoy all Week!   Buon appetito!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Greek Panzanella


Olive oil

6 c. cubed french bread

1 cucumber, seeded and sliced into half moons

1 red bell pepper, 1 inch dice

1 yellow bell pepper, 1 inch dice

2 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 red onion, slice in half rounds

1/2 lb. feta cheese, cut in 1/2 inch cubes


2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. dried oregano

1/2 t. Dijon mustard

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1 t. salt

1/2 t pepper

1/3 c. olive oil

Heat 3 T. olive oil in pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 min., stirring frequently, until browned. Add extra olive oil if needed.

Combine the cucumber, red and yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in large bowl.

Whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. While whisking add olive oil. Pour over vegetables. Add cheese and bread cubes. Mix together gently. Set aside to allow flavors to combine about 30 min. Serve at room temp.

Serves 4-6

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reggio Express


2 eggs
1 Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage Patty heated and crumbled up.
1 tsp salsa
1 tsp sour cream
1 tsp chopped onions
cheese optional


Lightly grease a small saute or omlette pan and put on med-high heat.  In a small bowl combine the eggs, sausage patty and onion.  Cook your omlette to desired doneness, adding the cheese at the very end.  Remove from heat and fold over onto plate.  Top with salsa and sour cream.  Buon appetito!

This was loosely based on the Acapulco Express at First Watch, but my large Italian family is from Reggio Calabria, Italy :)

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Super Simple Salmon

There's almost nothing better than a homemade meal, even a simple one like this. Since Brendan and I welcomed Clare, there has been very little cooking going on in our house, but we occasionally find a long enough period of time to pull this quick dinner together.

2 5 oz. Salmon filets
1/2 red onion sliced
1/2 lemon sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the salmon filets on the foil along with the red onion. Drizzle all in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle rosemary leaves on top of fish and onions. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with lemon slices to squeeze over fish before eating.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basil Flatbread

1 11-ounce refrigerated thin crust pizza dough

1 1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

1 mince garlic clove

2 T. thinly sliced basil

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll dough onto a 10 x 15 inch baking sheet. Combine olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Brush over dough. Bake at 350 for 11 min or until browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and cheese.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tomato Cucumber Salad


One Red Onion, thinly sliced
One English (seedless) cucumber, cut into strips
5-6 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and cut into wedges
Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar for drizzling
Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients, serve.  Like I said easy!!

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Deconstructed Summer Chili

Not a heavy chili, light and delicious summer meal! 



1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ears corn, cooked and cut from stalk
2 cups elbow pasta, cooked and cooled
1 red onion, half finely chopped, half thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound lean ground beef
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
4 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste


In a saute pan add 2 tsp of olive oil and chopped onions, wait about 2 minutes and add beef cooking thoroughly adding chili power and cumin right at the end.  Allow meat to cool.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and cilantro and add remaining ingrediants.  Buon appetito!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Gabe's Gyros

Whole Wheat Pitas
1 Cucumber Sliced
Cherry Tomatoes Halved
Red Onion Sliced
Fresh Basil
1 lb Thinly Sliced Beef or Lamb
Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Dill
1 tsp Garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly salt the meat.  Grill it on each side for 1-2 minutes each, you want it to be no more than medium.  Slice the meat into thin strips.  I like to lightly grill the pitas, 1 min each side, just to get the grill marks.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce.  Combine your gyro to your hearts content!  Buon appetito!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rice Pudding

3 cups cooked rice
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice

Cook rice according to package directions.  I recommend arborio rice.  Once rice is done and is still warm in the pan, add the milk until it's absorbed.  Mix in the remaining ingredients and chill overnight.   Buon appetito!

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Egg and Tomato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

3-4 hard boiled eggs sliced
3-4 roma tomatoes in wedges
4 cups mixed greens
1 cup croutons
1/4 cups Mustard Vinaigrette (see below)

Coat the mixed greens with Mustard Vinaigrette and layer the other ingredients on top.  Buon appetito!

Mustard Vinaigrette
Whisk together...
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

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Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Ice Cream

came out super creamy and delicious!!

2  ounces  unsweetened chocolate
1/3  cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  cups  milk
2  large  eggs
1  cup  sugar
1  cup  heavy cream, or whipping cream
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water.  Gradually whisk in the cocoa and heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. (If the chocolate clumps , don't worry - the milk will dissolve it).  Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, and heat until blended.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream and vanilla, and whisk to blend.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture and blend.  Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 to 3 hours, depending on your refrigerator.  Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's directions.  Makes 1 quart. Buon appetito!

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Potato Salad

5 lbs.  yukon gold potatoes
2 cups mayonasse
2 tbs.  mustard
3 tbs. chopped onion
3 tbs. chopped celery
2 tbs. sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp.  dill
Salt to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, about 25 min.  While the potatoes are boiling combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl.  Once the potatoes are done drain them and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking.  Peel the potatoes and roughly chop.  Fold gently into other ingredients.  Buon appetito!
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Nutella Filled Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

* First Picture finished product, Second Picture filled cupcakes cooling...

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4  tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk

1/2 stick butter (melted)
 3 large Tbs. cocoa
1/2 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup milk

(Filling and Garnish)
1/2 jar Nutella
chocolate covered Peanuts

Mix flour, baking powder and salt.  Cream together sugar, butter eggs, vanilla and milk and add to flour.  Spoon into greased muffin tins or paper cups.  Bake for 20 min at 400*.  While they're cooking you can make the frosting mix together all ingredients until well blended.  Once cupcakes are cooked remove from the oven and use a doughnut filler or pastry bag to fill the still warm cupcakes with 1tsp of nutella.  Let the cupcakes cool completely.  Once cool cover with frosting and garnish with chocolate covered peanuts.  Buon appetito!

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Bumps on a Log

Peanut Butter or Cream Cheese

Clean and cut celery to desired length (2 inches).  Spread pb or cream cheese on the celery.  Place the raisins in the peanut butter to look like bugs.  Yum!! Buon appetito!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicken and Roast Veggie Stew over Polenta

From Whole was delicious!!

Ingredients for Roasted Vegatables

3 packages (12 cups) pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers and red onion
3 tablespoons  Olive Oil
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves


Heat oven to 450°F. Place vegetables on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in sage and cook 2 more minutes. Cut chicken into serving pieces, place on a platter, and surround with half the vegetables.

Chicken and Roast Veggie Stew over Polenta

This dish calls for sage-roasted vegetables, but you can also use your favorite roasted vegetable mix from our prepared foods department.


1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 rotisserie chicken
4 cups sage-roasted vegetables, large pieces chopped
1 tube (1 pound) pre-cooked polenta, cut into 12 slices
Grated Parmesan Cheese


In a large saucepan, stir together tomatoes, broth, vinegar, garlic, pepper flakes and salt. Simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove wings and drumsticks from chicken and set aside for lunch. Discard skin; pull meat from breast and thighs and chop it. Add to pan along with roasted vegetables. Stir and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Brown polenta slices in an oiled skillet or microwave until heated through and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Place 3 slices on each plate, top with chicken stew, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Buon appetito!

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Vegetarian Tacos

These turned out yum!
1 package small corn tortillas
1 package Morning Star Crumbles
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 avacado sliced
1 can vegetarian re-fried beans
1 cup shredded cheese


I like to let the MS crumbles defrost a little before I heat them up with the taco seasoning.  In a small pan heat the beans.  After adding water to the mix according to package directions, heat the seasoning thru with the crumbles, in a saute pan.  Create your perfect taco and enjoy!  Buon appetito!

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Marinated Grilled Chicken

This is always a go-to favorite at our house!

In a ziplock bag:
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of lime juice
as much chicken as you'd like ( mine is usually 6-8 thighs/breasts)


I leave it in the fridge at least 24 hours, sometimes 3 days if I've forgotten about it!  Throw it on the grill and serve with your favorite side.  Buon appetito!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Veggie Lasagna with Cream Sauce

This turned out MUCH better than previous veggie lasagnas!!


1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
12 lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1, 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
16 oz ricotta
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons light Olive oil
8 ounces sliced or chopped mushrooms
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped bell peppers
2 cups broccoli florets

Preheat oven at 350.

For the white sauce:
Use a 1 quart saucepan to melt the butter with a low heat.
Stir in the flour and salt.
Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly.
Remove from heat and stir in the milk.
Heat to boiling. Boil and stir 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Cover and keep warm.

For the filling:
Combine spinach, cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese,
basil, oregano, garlic powder and pepper together in a bowl
and set aside.

For the vegetables:
Cook the mushrooms, carrots, onions, bell peppers, and broccoli in a
frying pan with a little Olive oil until soft and tender. Set aside.

To assemble lasagna:
Place 4 noodles in the bottom of the pan.
Top with half of the cheese filling, 1 cup of the Mozzarella
cheese and then 4 more noodles.
Spread cooked vegetables on top of the noodles.
Then pour and spread half of the white sauce over top of the
vegetables. Place the remaining noodles over that.
Then spread the remaining cheese mixture on top of the noodles.
Sprinkle with the other 1 cup Mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting to set.
Buon appetito!

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grilled Pineapple and Pork Kabobs

This came out citrusy and juicy!

1 cup pineapple juice 
Juice of 3 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds cubed boneless pork loin
One 3 3/4- to 4 1/4 pound fresh pineapple

In a large bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, lime juice, and olive oil.  Add the pork, toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 12 hours, stirring several times during soaking.  Trim the leaves off the pineapple. Hold the pineapple upright on a cutting board and slice the skin off the fruit. Slice the peeled fruit in half and cut out the core. Cut the fruit into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks. You will have about 4 cups of cubes, or about 18 cubes.  First cover the grill rack with aluminum foil to prevent sticking. Thread the pork and pineapple chunks on six 12-inch skewers, beginning and ending with chunks of pork.  Grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning several times.

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Pasta Primavera

This is one of my dinner stand-bys.  My wonderful and talented mother-in-law made it for me after I had baby #1 (or was it #2...hmmm!)

Adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis


3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
1 pound farfalle (or choo-choo wheels if  you have toddlers)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat.  Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.  Buon appetito!

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shrimp Fried Rice

This is one of everyone's favorites!  Mine too because it takes minutes to prepare!

2 cups rice (cooked)
½ lbs shrimp (uncooked)
4 eggs
4 green onions (chopped)
3 tbs Olive or Sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbs soy sauce

Saute the onions in oil, add shrimp and cook for two minutes, add salt. Beat eggs and add to shrimp, cook for one minute. Slide everything over to one side of the pan add some more oil to the empty side and add rice. Add salt and soy sauce until you have the taste you prefer. Buon appetito!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tortellini Salad

A delicious quick lunch!


2 lbs frozen cheese tortellini
1 lb broccoli florets
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs Italian spices


In a large pot boil water and cook tortellini according to package directions. Add broccoli when the tortellini has 3 more minutes to cook. Drain pasta and broccoli and run under cold water until cold. Pour into bowl and add tomatoes. Whisk all other ingredients together until thoroughly mixed and gently stir into pasta. Best served chilled. Buon appetito!

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Vegan Lasagna

** Warning do not try this at home, my kids loved it but my husband and I couldn't stomach it. I'm trying to use less (or no) meat but this was just too far for an Italian gal to go...**


extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
1 summer squash, finely chopped
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound fresh plain lasagna sheets
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cab canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded mozzarella


In a saute pan add extra-virgin olive oil, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini and squash cook for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat when all vegetables are completely cooked, allow to cool. Grease the bottom of the dish and layer in sauce, noodles, veggies, spinach, and beans. Repeat until you run out of ingredient. Top with cheese. Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until cheese is bubbling.

Then call for pizza :D

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Baked Apples

This is one of my childhood favorites...yum!


4 Large apples washed and cored
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp sugar
4 pats of butter


In a small bowl combine oats raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Place apples in baking dish and pour mixture into apples and pack in to fit more goodies inside the apple. Once each apple is full place a pat of butter on top of each apple. Bake at 350* for 15-20 min or until the apple is soft. Let cool somewhat before eating. Buon appetito!

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

3 beets
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut in 1" chunks
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
8 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
salt and pepper
1 T. chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Put beets in small baking dish. Rub with 1 T. oil. Cover with foil and roast for 1 1/2 hr.

Combine carrots, sprouts, garlic, and 2 T. olive oil in dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add to oven after beets have been roasting for 30 min. Let roast for 1 hour.

Remove beets from oven. Stir rosemary into carrot mixture and roast 10 min. Hold beet with paper towel to prevent staining your fingers, and use another paper towel to remove the peel from the beet. This is very easy. Cut into 1 inch chunks. Toss with the other vegetables.

Tip: If you stain your hands or cutting board, rub them with salt and then wash.

Adapted from: The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

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Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

1 lemon
1/2 c. chicken broth
3 T. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cornstarch
1 T. vegetable oil
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 lb. mushrooms, quartered
1 c. sliced carrots
2 c. snow peas, strings removed
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1 " pieces ( keep whites and greens separated)
1 T. chopped garlic

Grate 1 tsp. lemon zest. Set aside. Combine 3 T. lemon juice, broth, soy sauce and cornstarch.

Heat oil in skillet. Add chicken and cook about 5 min. , until cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Add mushrooms and carrots to pan and cook about 5 min., until carrots are tender.
Add peas, scallion whites, garlic and lemon zest. Cook about 30 sec. Whisk broth mixture and add. Cook until slightly thickened. Add the rest of the scallions and chicken. Heat through, about 2 min.

Adapted from Eating Well 500 Calorie Dinners
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

V9 (or V10) Soup


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1/2 cups chopped white onion
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups celery, peeled and chopped (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups zucchini, chopped (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups summer squash (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 quarts vegetable broth
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
2 ears corn, kernels removed or 1 bag of frozen sweet or white corn
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in large, stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, onions and garlic until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, celery, squash and zucchini. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Top with feta or cheddar. I served mine with crusty bread and an olive oil/pesto dip yum!!! Buon appetito!

*If you live in the Cleveland area this is a take on Aladdin's V9 Soup :)

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Cream of Potato Soup


5lbs. potatoes; peeled and coarsely chopped
1 sm. onion; chopped
8oz. cream cheese; softened
3-14.5oz. cans reduced sodium chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4t. pepper and salt
crisp bacon; crumbled
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
sliced scallions

Add all ingredients (not garnishes) to large stockpot. Simmer on low for 2-3 hours or until potatoes are fork tender. I like mine a little thicker so you can mash up some potatoes or add instant potatoes to make it heartier. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and the cheese & bacon. Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Buon appetito!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Salmon and Couscous with Dipping Sauce


Salmon Fillets
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Lime Juice
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Dill


Place salmon skin side down and drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20 min at 350*. Combine sour cream, lime juice, garlic and dill in a small bowl. Make the couscous according to box directions. Serve! Buon appetito!

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Mary's Yummy Salad


Salad Mix
Cucumbers, Sliced
Hard Boiled Egg, Sliced
Alfalfa Sprouts
Red Onions, Chopped
Dressing of your choice


Mix and enjoy! This was just too yummy and pretty not to share. Buon appetito!

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Noodles and Veggies


1 box elbow macaroni
1 Zucchini, Sliced
1 Red Onion, Chopped
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
Sliced Carrots
Olive Oil


Saute all your veggies in a pan with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, serve over noodles. Buon appetito!

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Fish with Cilantro Sauce and Rice


5-6 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lime juice


Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; sauté the garlic and onion for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 1 minute longer. Set aside or refrigerate until nearly serving time.

Spread some olive oil in a saute pan and wait for it to heat up. Add fish and cook 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Put fish onto plate and spread sauce over fish.

I served mine with rice. Buon appetito!

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