The next time you find yourself standing in a grocery store, and some guy with a camera loudly asks if there are any home cooks around, and you are the only person there, I say, GO FOR IT!
This happened, and my dream of becoming a Food Network Star was at my fingertips…well, sort of.
What started as a plan to cook a quiet dinner, soon blossomed into an incredible cocktail party with our amazing friends pitching in, all the while our PR guy, Larry from TellYourVision.Net, filmed us from start to finish!
Happy New Year, everyone!! I have a new dilemma to share!
I know it’s really great that there are things so special to you that you want to pass them along to your children and grandchildren….but seriously…..you have to think, “Will they want this shit?”
Take, for example, the Lenox bird collection, that I know was an expensive bite out of the budget that my husband provided for his mom….I just spent an entire afternoon, matching each bird to the corresponding certificate of authenticity, photographing, and listing them on Ebay. I sold one, but by the time I packed it and shipped it, I lost money.
Kathy, a very close friend of mine offered me $25.00 for all of them so that her husband can use them as target practice for a gun he purchased recently. Tempting. I can’t help but thinking that someone out there appreciates these dust collecting birdies.
Moving Steve’s mom into an assisted living facility was quite the undertaking, especially as her daughter-in-law….I was given the dubious job of sorting through countless pairs of stockings, some still in the original package, hair ties and bows, denture boxes, and an assortment of long forgotten treasures packed away for safe keeping. Year after year, I would go to the dollar store for holiday bags and have Salina pack up these treasures as gifts, but she didn’t want to part with anything. You really have no idea….So for now, I’m stuck with these birds…lots of them.
My parents, at 89 and 91, have kept those special to them in a super organized way. When I visit, I love how my mom is always trying to give me her things. Although they take great pleasure in sharing, I want my mom and dad to keep and enjoy the memories they bring, rather than taking them away. I also know that the beautiful and valuable belongings of my parents are far from junk and someday will value and cherish the sentiment and memories.
On a return flight from Cancun, I vividly recall the pilot saying, “I hope you enjoyed your vacation and have carefully packed all of your souvenirs that will be at your garage sale someday.” So….note to self….Only buy and keep what gives you pleasure and let it go when it no longer has meaning.
Speaking of giving pleasure, I found this twist on an old favorite. Get ready for this delicious and EASY twist on your favorite Chicken Parmesan recipe!
Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins
1 ½ lbs raw ground chicken breast or turkey.processor and run until ground)
2 large egg
6 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs
¾ teaspoon dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ a small finely chopped onion
¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
¾ cup pasta sauce
¾ cup reduced fat shredded Mozzarella cheese
Optional: dried parsley, oregano or basil for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Lightly mist a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, egg whites, breadcrumbs, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese and lightly mix together. Do not over handle.
Form the meat mixture evenly into the 12 cups of your prepared muffin tin. Spread the pasta sauce evenly over the tops of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Top each muffin with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese and then return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish if desired.
Thanks for swinging by! Whether you are stuck indoors watching the snow, or reading this poolside, I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe and these great finds!
Until next time…
Cheers to cherished memories, both old and new!
CELEBRATION + SUNSETS SHOPPING
Those of you who know me know that I am OBSESSED with anything NINJA! Check out the latest!…
If you are looking for a great salad to add to your picnic for Mom’s Day, graduation, or just a get-together, try this BLT Salad…..all the flavors of that favorite bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich in a bowl! Simple and delicious!
BLT PASTA SALAD
Creamy Bacon Dressing
To keep the dressing from curdling, be sure to cool the bacon drippings to room temperature before adding to the mayonnaise.
Makes 20 servings
1 lb. dry campanelle pasta 1 lb. thick-sliced bacon, diced
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Transfer pasta to a bowl of ice water; drain well.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper- towel-lined plate. Reserve 3 Tbsp. drippings; set aside to cool.Whisk together mayonnaise, reserved drippings, shallots, basil, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pasta, romaine, tomatoes, and bacon; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.
Dear Friends! I hope you enjoy this delicious salad! This year, I used medium sized ball jars for individual servings….they looked super cute on the table, and made serving easy (the best!).
This year will be my daughter, Jodi’s, first “Almost A Mom’s Day!” They are deciding what to name the baby, and I’m trying to decide what the baby will call Steve and I.
Check out some of my fun finds! As always, thanks for swinging by and have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Well, as they say, “When in Rome…,” but in Naples…….Florida, it’s great fun to do as the Naples’ Floridians do….enjoy dining out on Fifth Avenue South! The epicurean choices are so incredible that dining in doesn’t always cut it. I try to justify it to myself, and Steve, by convincingly insisting that amazing meal ideas can be born from amazing restaurants.
Actually, it’s devastating…..(slightly dramatic, I know) to eat a mediocre meal in a restaurant and know that you can have a much better dinner at home. Dining out is a treat and I’m committed to duplicating and sharing some of my faves from my recent travels to Naples, Florida.
Sea Salt is one of our favorites and the chef nailed it on creativity and taste with his Caesar Salad Sushi Bites.
CAESAR SALAD SUSHI BITES
The first time I made these, I over filled them. Less is more, so that they are able to roll up and sit on the plate for a delicious presentation.
Caesar Dressing (store bought or home made)
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Small jar of red lumpfish caviar
Wash, dry and lay each romaine leaf flat.
Spread 1 T on each leaf.
Sprinkle 2 T Parmesan cheese on each leaf.
Carefully and tightly roll each romaine leaf up lengthwise.
Cut off loose ends and and slice evenly down the middle. (Each leaf makes 2 rolls)
Repeat with remaining leaves.
Turn each ‘sushi roll’ flat and top with 1/2 t. dressing and a sprinkle of caviar.
Serve with chopsticks!
CAESAR SALAD DRESSING
Combine + Serve
6 cloves garlic, mashed and minced.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
1 tablespoon vinegar.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise.
1/2 cup olive oil.
Lemon juice, for seasoning.
Minced anchovy fillets, optional.
One of the new kids on the block in downtown Naples is The Bevy; a delightful, open air restaurant featuring a living wall, beautiful bar and a retractable skylight ceiling. The food and drinks here insight the senses with every sip and bite.
Steve was more than delighted with his appetizer of Deviled Oysters which include yellow conrmeal oysters, deviled eggs and candied bacon.
Our friend, Bob, loved his craft cocktail, The Cedar Fire Old Fashioned which features bastille 1789 whiskey, orange bitters, maples syrup, smoked glass and candied bacon.
1 dozen eggs
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp minced shallot or onion
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper
Boil the eggs in water 10-12 min.
Peal the eggs, cut the in half lengthwise and remove the yolks.
Mash yolks with mustard, mayonnaise, onion, Tabasco, salt, pepper. (For finer consistency, place in a food processor.
4 Pipe or spoon mixture into egg white halves: Pipe through a piping bag (star tip) or simply use a spoon to put the egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves.
Serve as is, or top with your favorite toppings: candied bacon, smoked salmon, caviar, jalapeño
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mix brown sugar, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Place bacon slices on cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, turn slices, and bake another 5 minutes.
CORNMEAL FRIED OYSTERS
Heat deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Combine cornmeal, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, black pepper and seasoned salt in a large plastic bag.
Place oysters in bag and shake until well coated.
Cook oysters 3 or 4 at a time in hot oil.
Recently I read a great article on happiness……stating simply that: if your happiness depends on just one thing, you are setting yourself up for unhappiness. So, for example, if your happiness depends on sunshine and warm weather, and you live in Northeast Ohio, many of your days will be unhappy. In sunny Naples, Florida, even when it’s chilly, the sunshines which is a blessing.
Walking in sunshine and sharing delicious recipes are two of my favorite things, so thank you for swinging by and I hope you enjoy these nuggets of yum! Be sure to check out some of my fun finds in The Sunshine Shop!
David gave quite a bit of information and insight into the Korean culture. I was a bit surprised that many of the foods that are traditionally eaten in South Korea were born out of scarcity. The Korean people were forced to forage edible things from their environment not just during times of war but other times as well. Interesting enough, the Korean people maintain these traditions as a cultural comfort food which conjures up warm memories of family gatherings.
There is also a distinct difference in Korean street food which is a mix of Asian cultures, and the epicurean delights for the bon vivant. David’s interview inspired my curiosity to check out the vast variety of street food venders, where you can find everything from Japanese sushi to Chinese Peking Duck.
As a fan of Korean food, I want to share this amazing recipe for Korean Beef Tacos from Cuisine Magazine.
Korean Beef Street Tacos (Serves 2)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded napa or savoy cabbage
2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
1/4 cup plum or duck sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp. cornstarch
8 oz. sirloin or flat iron steak, very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
4 flour tortillas (6–8 inches)
For the slaw, whisk together: lime juice, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. sesame oil, sugar, paprika, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add cabbage and scallions, and toss lightly to coat. For the steak, whisk together:
plum sauce, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, and cornstarch in another bowl.
Add steak and toss to coat.
Heat peanut oil in a nonstick skillet over high.
Remove steak from bowl and let excess marinade drip back into the bowl.
Add steak to skillet and stir-fry to desired doneness, 2–3 minutes.
Remove steak from skillet with a slotted spoon.
Heat tortillas according to package directions. Assemble tacos with steak and slaw.
Dear Friends, Thanks for swinging by today. I’m looking forward to watching the incredible athletes this year in the Winter Olympics. Aside from the food, hard to believe that it could be, my favorites are the snowboarding and skiing competition.
I give these kids and their families so much credit for the incredible commitment. I only wish that we could do more for kids who don’t have those resources and enable them to have those experiences early and on a significant level to make an impact.
For me, that would be a perfect world.
Have a great weekend and check out some of my fun finds!
PS…Get your comfies on with these Pajamagram jammies, pour a glass of wine and enoy the Winter Olympics!
WOW!! What a game!! The game, the halftime show, the commercials….all so great! I think my favorite part was Justin Timberlake’s tribute to Prince and HARMONIZED!!!!
We did end up with some last-minute company (family) and fortunately, they aren’t staying for the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday 😳? Chile is always a great crowd go to for me, but if chile doesn’t seem to rock your taste buds, and you are serving a crowd, check out this 8 layer lasagna! The Secret is the Borsin Cheese in the bechamel sauce! Holy cheese balls, Batman! Put this recipe in your lineup for a winning event!
Both the meat and béchamel sauces can be made the day before assembly and chilled. The assembled lasagna may also be frozen—thaw before baking.
MAKES ONE 9X13X3″
FOR THE MEAT SAUCE:
11/2 lb. ground chuck
11/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage ADD:
2 cups yellow onion, diced
2 T. garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste
2 t. each dried basil, thyme, and oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
CALORIE CUTTER….Use ground chicken or turkey and chicken or turkey sausage!
STIR IN; SIMMER:
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes in puree
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup chicken broth or water + 2 T. balsamic vinegar
SHORTCUT……..Skip the tomatoes & broth….Add a jar of your favorite ready-made pasta sauce…AHHHHH!!
FOR THE BÉCHAMEL—
1/4 Cup unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
10 oz. Boursin cheese,
8 oz. frozen chopped spinach 1 egg, beaten
1 lb. oven-ready lasagna sheets, parboiled. *Careful….these guys stick together, so keep them separated.
Preheat oven to 400° with rack in the center. Brown the meats in a large saute pan over medium-high heat; spoon off as much of the fat as possible. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and seasonings. Saute until onion softens, about 8 minutes.
Stir in both types of tomatoes, broth, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes; set aside. Saute onion for the béchamel in melted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cayenne, and nutmeg; cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent scorching.
Stir in flour to coat; cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add Boursin in small pieces and whisk until smooth; season with salt. Set aside 1 cup béchamel for the top of the lasagna. Cool remaining sauce for 10 minutes. Whisk in frozen spinach and egg. Prepare lasagna sheets + have both cheeses ready. Assemble lasagna alternating layers ending with bechamel and parmesan cheeses.
Bake uncovered for 40–45 minutes, or until bubbly and top is golden. Allow lasagna to rest 20–30 minutes before cutting and serving.
LEFTOVERS? Easy….make Lasagna Soup. My Steve used to make ‘Refridgerator Management Soup on Sundays. We were never sure what was in it and I have to admit…a little scary sometimes. Well…..the snowstorm came and you have a TON of leftover lasagna……OH….. So, when life gives you too much lasagna…make lasagna soup!
Here is a delicious recipe for lasagna soup, and if you do have leftover lasagna….Check out the verson of “Leftover Lasagna Soup!”
(Leftover lasagna soup to follow!
Makes 6 servings (8 cups) Total time: 45 minutes
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can chopped Italian-style stewed tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz.)
1 cup dry mafalda pasta
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup diced provolone or part-skim mozzarella
1 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
Brown sausage in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic and sauté 3 minutes more.
Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute. To serve, place diced cheese in each serving bowl, then ladle soup over to melt. Garnish servings with Parmesan and basil.
LEFTOVER LASAGNA SOUP
4 C. Low sodium chicken brother
1 can chopped Italian style stewed tomatoes in juice
Leftover lasagna (refrigerated or at room temperature)
Place broth in a pot. I prefer to use ready made chicken stock which is more flavorful than broth.
Separate the layers of the lasagna keeping the cheese in a separate pile.
Cut the noodle layers into bite size pieces and add everything to the broth except the cheese.
Cut the cheese up into bite size pieces and place in individual serving bowls.
1 t. each kosher salt, black pepper + garlic powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
Trim 3 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, coat with rub and place in a 4-6 qt. slow cooker.
Add 1/2 C. minced onion and sauce to the slow cooker.
Cook on high for 3 hours until chicken is fork tender.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred.
Return shredded chicken to the slow cooker, toss with sauce & serve on kaiser rolls with slaw.
Two great versions of this delicious twist on coleslaw from my favorite Cuisine Magazine…..No need to purchase slaw dressing! One, made with yogurt, super creamy and the other made with a spicy and refreshing vinaigrette. Try them both!
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 jalapeño, sliced
Wow!! What a game and I have to admit….I’m usually pretty big on the underdogs! (Maybe because I’m a dog lover!). My Steve is an avid football follower and is glued to any game…Me? I’m all about the food and fun. One of the most wonderful things about these huge events is the cities that are featured. Visiting Philadelphia has to be a highlight of last summer. I’m a tourist all the way! Check out this game memorabilia….
News Year’s resolutions for me have always centered around diet, exercise and….for those of you who know me….timeliness. This is the first year that not only did I not make a resolution, I didn’t even think to. Maybe my subconscious mind decided that it wasn’t necessary to keep setting myself up for failure, or that my memory was going, or perhaps both, but I’m still committed to these three self inflicted goals.
So here they are….3 simple quick + mindless tips to a healthier and happier you.
This is a great tip for the anti-exerciser! Choose 1 commercial on television a day and move your feet side side to sideOR
if you have an exercise ball collecting dust in your closet, dust it off, sit it and bounce holding soup cans. (remember to hold the cans close to your body to keep your back in alignment) That’s it!
TIP 2….Make AND take time for YOU.
Take 1 hour a day and do something for yourself. One hour…that’s it! Whether its reading a magazine with your feet up, taking a walk, watching a show on televisions, looking up things on the internet….no matter what it is…take time for you. This time doesn’t need to be regimented every day or even at the same time. That adds to stress. At some point say to yourself…”My time,” and take it.
Personally, my anti stress therapy is an hour walking around Homegoods. I love looking at all of the new dishes, linens and things to decorate my home with. I don’t even need to buy anything (hard to resist) but I just love to look.
This brings us to the all important step…choosing the right foods AND the right way to prepare them.
TIP 3….Making good food choices.
If you live in an area where I do, we are cooped up in the winter and mindless eating…aka snacking, can be a serious disorder. Essentially snacking isn’t such a bad thing, but just how many carrot and celery sticks can one consume???
I have found that combining tip 2 and tip 3 works for me. Aiming at turning easy + delicious foods into healthy, easy + delicious foods has been a fun and yummy challenge.
Scour the internet and pinterest for healthy foods. Hate broccoli? Find a better way to make it, or skip it and look at something else. I’ve even discovered a healthy version of fettucini alfredo, if that’s possible!
Not a big lover of eggplant, but my Steve certainly is, I recently discovered a clever disguise for one of his favorite dishes on Pinterest…eggplant parmesan. This clever version is super easy and delicious. Slicing the eggplant super thin is the trick….Check it out…
SHEET PAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbsp water
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 (25 ounce) jar tomato sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
julienned fresh basil, optional
Spread the sliced eggplant in a single layer onto paper towels. Generously salt the eggplant and let it sit for 15 minutes. Flip the eggplant, salt the other side, and let sit for another 15 minutes. Rince the eggplant with water and pat dry with clean paper towels. (This process will draw out the excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. I have seen some skip this step entirely.)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, dried basil, dried oregano, and garlic powder in a shallow dish. In a separate dish, lightly beat the eggs with the water.
Dip the eggplant slices in the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the panko mixture onto the eggplant to evenly coat both sides.
Drizzle a foil-lined sheet pan with the olive oil and spread it around to cover the whole pan. Place the breaded eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, flip the slices, then bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Spoon sauce onto each slice and top with shredded cheese. Return to the oven and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Top with fresh basil right before serving.
Thanks for swinging by today!
PLEASE feel free to contact me if you are looking for an easy and lighter way to make a favorite dish.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If there is anything to take away from reading this, I hope that you will remember to be good to yourself.
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Here are a few of my finds for the New Year! Happy Shopping!
Today I learned of a friend’s passing. A tearful whisper in the wind.
My friend was kind, cheerful, giving and loving, to her family and to her friends. Everyone knew the cancer had returned, but her heart wouldn’t allow her to share the burden she carried when hope turned to prayers and words turned to tears.
Visiting her Pinterest boards today, it became clear that words of inspiration and thoughts reach deeply into our hearts and minds.
With tears in my eyes, I wanted to write..
“My dear Friend,
I wish I could have shared your pain and kept your private fears and tears close to my heart. I pray that your pain is gone and you are at peace.”
These are some of her posts….
Comfort comes with time and we hope that time does heal, although the pain never really goes away. Comfort comes in many ways and opening our hearts to comfort during difficult times can help.
My upbringing always brings me to food. Growing up, food was always the center of happiness, sadness and just about anything in between. My Steve always says that dining with family is an experience….they are the only people he knows who can be discussing what they want for the next meal while they are eating…too true:)
So for me, comfort food is just that, and I have found this delicious twist on stroganoff with just the right amount of heat and the right amount of comfort. Enjoy!
CAJUN CHICKEN STROGANOFF
8 oz. dry wide egg noodles
8 oz. kielbasa, sliced 8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
11/2 lb. chicken breast tenders
1/2 tsp. each cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, kosher salt, dried basil, dried thyme, and dried oregano
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
Cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.
Sauté kielbasa and mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until browned, 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
Combine chicken with seasonings, tossing to coat, then dust with flour. Sauté chicken in remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same sauté pan over medium-high heat until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Push chicken to the side of the pan, stir in tomato paste and garlic, and cook 1 minute.
Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping up any brown bits; simmer until nearly evaporated. A
dd broth, Worcestershire, and reserved kielbasa and mushroom mixture, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
Off heat, stir in sour cream.
Serve stroganoff over noodles and garnish with scallions
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad….I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!” Oscar Hammerstein’s song resonates holiday for me. “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and “In My Own Little Corner” are amongst his other iconic pieces which conjure emotion. Click to listen ….My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews
With the constant stream of men charged with sexual harassment these days, it’s a breath of fresh air to revisit the lives of beautiful people and read quotes which helped make them famous. My favorite Oscar Hammerstein quote is: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!” Reading it closely, I now wonder if, in today’s world, someone would misconstrue that as sexual harassment……
In a recent edition of “O The Oprah Magazine, staff and readers were asked to respond to the question of the month; “WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE HOLIDAY SONG?” The responses were varied and personal as you might imagine. They ran the gamut of predictability to absurd, but all a fun quick read. My personal favorite with the response from the Senior Web Editor, Ruth Baron, whose ultimate holiday song was, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” She stated that she grew up Jewish and that song convinced her that all of her “Santa-believing” friends could have anything they wanted.
One of my favorite things at any time of year is cookies. Around the holidays, however, from early November through late December, I’m partial to the gingerbread cookie. The aroma of these delicious little morsels screams, “Welcome home!” to all who enter your kitchen, that is if they aren’t burning :).
Here it is….the Ultimate Gingerbread Cookie. Remember….under-bake, serve warm (reheat in the microwave if you need to before serving) AND they go well with hot spiced apple cider with a splash of rum.
THE ULTIMATE GINGERBREAD COOKIE
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 4 tablespoons white sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.
Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
Shape the dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar.
Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. You don’t need to flatten them.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes approximately 30 cookies. Store in an airtight container.
Unbaked cookies can be stored in the freezer and popped in the oven!
Wishing you the happiest of Holidays and health in the New year.
P.S. If you feel like shopping, check out these finds….
LAURA’S FAVORITE THINGS SHOP
ALSO AVAILABLE IN LETTERS TO MYSELF, MY GRAND CHILD, MY MOM, MY DAD, AND MY FUTURE SELF.
I don’t ordinarily get super excited about kitchen gadgets, but this one is AMAZING! This little monster is the ultimate one pot meal making which makes all other Crockpots obsolete!
It steams! It bakes! It Sears! It sautes! It slow cooks! And the best part, is that it does it all in one pot.
So, I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right. You’re thinking that I sound like one of those Vita-mix sales demonstrators you normally find in a tent during county fairs. Endorsing a product, particularly with your friends, is risky business but truly, this new machine is a game changer.
The Ninja 4-in-1 Cooking System best features are:
1 pot with 4 cooking functions: Stove Top, Slow Cook, Oven, and Steam.
Unique heating elements let you sear, sauté, and slow cook—all in one pot—for easy cleanup.
Bake in oven mode. Dry Bake for chicken and roasts, and Steam Bake for delicious, moist cakes.
Steam delicious and healthy vegetables, fish, and other delicate foods.
What to do with that leftover turnkey? Try these delicious recipes from the Ninja 4 in 1 Cookbook that comes with your purchase.
TURKEY POT PIE
CRUST Pie dough FILLING 4 medium carrots, peeled, cut in thirds 3 stalks celery, cut in thirds 1 1/2 small onions, peeled, cut in quarters 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound leftover turkey cut in 1 inch pieces 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter 1/2 cup flour 4 cups chicken broth 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves Salt and pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons milk
To prepare crust, see Pie Dough recipe.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place carrots, celery, and onion into the 64-ounce Precision Processor.
Select CHOP. Transfer chopped vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped turkey and continue cooking until vegetables are softened, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour to saucepan, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add broth, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens to form a sauce. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Combine the vegetables and chicken with the sauce, then pour mixture into a casserole dish. Remove one pie dough disc from refrigerator and roll out to 2 inches larger than the casserole dish. Place dough on top of filling and crimp edges. Cut vent holes in dough and brush with milk. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
1 pound leftover turkey cut in 1 inch pieces 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce, divided 8 uncooked no-boil lasagna pasta sheets, divided 1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4-inch thick rounds 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Place turkey and 1/3 cup sauce into the pot. Cover with 4 sheets pasta, breaking up the fourth to cover the sides of the pan.
Scatter the zucchini slices over the pasta. Spread with ricotta and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with half the remaining sauce.
Layer the remaining pasta, then top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover pot.
Select Auto-iQ Quick Meals: Recipe 20 and press the START/STOP button.
For best results, let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
The Thanksgiving countdown as officially begun and I love all of the new gadgets designed to make our lives a little bit easier. Even if you don’t purchase this great cooker, I hope you’re able to enjoy the recipes with your leftover turkey.
Cheers to a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by people in your life who make you smile and appreciate you.
Cookies are hands down the ultimate comfort food for fall. It seems that every holiday celebration features a favorite cookie as a part of the seasonal celebration. Serve these little Pumpkin bites warm with a cold glass of milk. Don’t forget….always underbake!
PUMPKIN COOKIES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 oz. cream cheese 3/4 cup powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture by hand until just combined.
Drop on prepared baking sheets by heaping tablespoonfuls; Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in a bowl of sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking.
Bake in preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on wire rack.
Once cookies have cooled completely, frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
While the cookies are cooling make frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice and beat until smooth and creamy.
Summer should get a speeding ticket! I honestly don’t know where it went! Looking forward to sweater weather has never been my thing, so I still hold on to summer as long as I can….and my white jeans. I was elated when the Today Show fashion consultant said that your white skinny jeans can be a fall staple this year. Not that I needed the affirmation, but it was good to hear.
The end of summer has left us a bounty of juicy peaches to enjoy! Searching for great peach dishes through collections of cookbooks and recipes, I have found that although the “plus-it-ups” are fun, many of the old basics and “Mom Recipes” are still the “Blue Ribbon Winners!” This peach recipe can be made in an 8×8 casserole or individual ramekins. Hot out of the oven, serve it up with some cool & creamy vanilla ice cream. Life is good…..and here it is…..easy & delicious…..
MOM’S PEACH CRISP
4 cups sliced fresh peaches
1/2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Cold Butter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. Rolled Oats
Pre-heat oven to 350*
Arrange peaches evenly in an 8×8-inch baking dish or stack the peaches halfway up in a ramekin.
Mix flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl using a pastry cutter until evenly crumbled.
Fold oats into flour mixture; sprinkle and press topping into peaches.
Bake in the preheated oven until topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Cheers to summer, cheers to peaches and cheers to doing what makes you happy! Until next time…
I never realized that people actually read my blog and look forward to my recipes until dinner last night with friends celebrating my 62nd birthday!! Wait….62? Shit. Anyway, my friend, Stephanie, wanted to know why I don’t blog more. I am, unfortunately for my husband and kids, never short of words, so that isn’t the problem. I love summer and spend as much time as I can outdoors because summer is soooo short. But promising that I would blog more, my new office is now located on the back deck until it rains.
Speaking of summer, a recent trip to Miles Market in Ohio proved to be somewhat of a decision-making challenge. The locally grown produce was fresh and abundant. Ultimately, I came home with this massive head of cauliflower that was so big, it wouldn’t fit into the produce bag. I came home from teaching aerobices the other day finding this huge cauliflower on the sink with a note from my husband who loves to do ‘refridgerator management.’ It read, “Do something with this thing. It’s taking up the whole damn refridgerator.” That’s a little exaggerated, but it is big and needed to be cooked.
So, bored with the usual, but creative recipes for preparing cauliflower, I came upon a great recipe from Delish.com….Buffalo Cauliflower with blue cheese dipping sauce. My shortcuts with this dish are store-bought blue cheese dressing and Franks Hot Sauce.
So, what really is buffalo sauce you ask? As a retired teacher, I love info that nobody really cares about. So the buffalo, fortunately, has nothing to do with this guy….. There actually are many stories with claims to fame of this spicy stuff, but they all originate in Buffalo, New York. Yep. There is even a National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, where John Young was inducted into the National Buffalo Wing Hall of Fame in 1964 with his Mombo Sauce.
Here it is….super easy and surprisingly not too spicy……..
BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER with BLUE CHEESE DIPPING SAUCE
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 c. buffalo sauce (such as Franks)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, until the florets are starting to turn golden and slightly crispy.
Mix together melted butter and buffalo sauce. Pour over roasted cauliflower and toss with tongs to combine. Return baking sheet to oven and roast for another 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork tender and slightly crisp. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side.
Dear Friends, I hope you like today’s recipe and feel free to share or ask for a new recipe. I love to share my yummy and EASY finds. Until next time….
Cheers! 🍾 Laura
P.S. Check out my new store, FOLIO TRENDS for the latest styles and trends for women.
Ahhhh Summertime! A time to enjoy days filled with warm sunshine and breezy balmy evenings that we hope will never end. Sipping delicious cocktails with friends on outdoor patios dimly lit with the dancing flames of citronella. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you are looking for a delicious, refreshing and easy desert, I found this great one on PINTEREST.Often I find great ideas on Pinterest that grace the boards of my own pages, but this one really takes thee cake! This Summer Berry Trifle takes a little prep, but is a beautiful addition to your festive summer celebration! ENJOY!
SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE
17 oz angel food cake, cut into 1″ cubes (I used 1 1/2 blocks) 1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced 1 lb fresh blueberries
4 or 5 qt trifle dish or individual clear glass ice cream bowls
1/4 cup water 2 Tbsp sugar 2 Tbsp lemon juice (from 1/2 medium lemon)
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened at room temp 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 cups heavy whipping cream 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. In a measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
1. Beat together 1 lb cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar (with the whisk attachment) on medium speed until creamy and smooth. With mixer on, pour in 2 cups heavy cream then turn the mixer to medium/high and continue beating until consistency of whipped cream. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Assemble the Trifle:
1. Place 1/3 of your sliced angel food cake into the bottom of your trifle dish and brush with 1/3 of your syrup. Add 1/3 of your cream and loosely spread it over cake pieces. Add 1/2 of the sliced strawberries. Repeat with remaining ingredients (adding 1/2 of the blueberries for the second fruit layer). Frost the top with last 1/3 of cream and decorate with remaining fruit.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
NOTE…In place of the lemon syrup, any liquor will do such as amaretta, peach schnapps, etc.
Thanks so much for swinging by. I hope you enjoy today’s recipe and it finds its way to your next summer celebration.
A friend recently sent me a this great quote about life:
Sometimes its easy to get caught up in wasted time worrying about things that don’t matter or can’t be changed. Be your best you, love yourself and live for today.