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Sheet Pan Eggplant Parm?? Easy and Cheezy? Oh yea!

Salad…..my favorite comfort food of summer, but anything fresh from the garden and smothered in cheese….now we’re talking! Summer’s bounty of eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes give rise to delicious and healthy twists on most loved recipes….like one of my faves, eggplant Parmesan!

This sheet pan eggplant parm is a super easy and flavorful without all the fuss and fat of the original version. Give it a try…..

SHEET PAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 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 or spray olive oil
  • 3 C. marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded or fresh
  • julienned fresh basil, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spread the sliced eggplant in a single layer onto paper towels. Lightly 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 step is optional)
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  
  3. 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.
  4. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the breadcumbs onto the eggplant to evenly coat both sides.
  5. Spray a foil-lined sheet pan with the olive oil.
  6. Place the breaded eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  7. 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 or fresh mozzorella cheese.  
  8. 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.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swinging by! I know it’s been awhile, but I hope to share more regularly!

Enjoy this delicious dish!

Cheers to celebrating summer!

🍷Laura

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Brown Bananas Again? Try this Delicious Banana Cookie Recipe!

Banana Cookies

When the kids come to visit, we always have leftover bananas. Try this delicious twist on the usual banana bread or cupcakes…..Banana Cookies! Soft, chewy and delicious. You may make them before the kids arrive!

Banana Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ripe smashed banana 
  • 3.4 oz package banana cream instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350*F
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
  • Combine butter and sugar and mix with an electric mixer.  Add banana, dry pudding mix and the eggs, then mix together until smooth.
  • Combine dry ingredients into the mixing bowl with banana mixture.
  • Add the white chocolate chips.
  • Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment lined baking pan.
  • Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Cool for several minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
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Heirloom or Clutter…+ A New Twist on an Old Favorite…Chicken Parmesan as a muffin!

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?”

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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

INGREDIENTS:

  • 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

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Lightly mist a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Dear Friends,

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!

🥂Laura

CELEBRATION + SUNSETS SHOPPING

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My Comfort Food Falling Out

For some reason, we are convinced that with the onset of fall and winter, we should be eating comfort food…delicious, stick to the ribs (and everywhere else)…filling, satisfying, fattening food. Then comes spring and we wonder why our shorts don’t fit and our feet have gone up a half size. 

Try a bowl of shepherds pie laced with buttery mashed potatoes or how about a nice slice of mac and cheese stuffed meatloaf? These are truly amazing. 

So, my question is this: Is it comfort food season, or are we stress eating because it will soon be snowy and cloudy for the next six months??

If I sound like a bah humbug about fall and winter, it’s no accident. That being the case, I have made a diligent attempt to find seasonal recipes that limit the fat but keep the comfort.

And by the way, shortcuts of all kinds in my recipes are more than acceptable. Trader Joe’s is stocked with affordable and organic choices for meal prep goodies. Costco is another great place if you are feeding a large crowd. 

PS…I will absolutely post those amazing comfort food recipes as well. No reason not to…

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH PORT VINAIGRETTE

FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  • 1 Butternut Squash, cut in small pieces
  • 8 shallots, peeled, halved
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Sprinkle of onion salt (I like the Trader Joe’s)

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

FOR THE SALADS

BUILD EACH SALAD WITH

  1. 1 cup spring mix salad greens
  2. Roasted butternut squash and shallots
  3. 2 T. Port Vinaigrette
  4. 2 T. crumbled blue cheese
  5. 2 T. toasted walnut pieces

 

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Toss the butternut squash and shallots in olive oil in a large roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with onion salt (or sea salt).

Roast in the lower oven for 15 minutes.

Prepare the vinaigrette:

Combine vinegar, honey, port, ginger, and rosemary. Pour this syrup over the roasting squash and return the pan to the oven; roast for 10 more minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer squash and shallots to a bowl.

Pour syrup into a measuring cup and whisk in enough oil to make 11/4 cups vinaigrette, season, and set aside.

 

Build each salad starting with greens.

Top with squash and shallots, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

*If you aren’t a fan of butternut squash, try using pears for a delicious twist. Roast them or use them sliced raw.

Dear Friends,

Sorry it has been so long. Summer has taken me away from my computer but I am back to share.

Always on a search for delicious EASY winners and I am happy to search for ones you are looking for. Email or send a txt.

Cheers to celebrating simple things every day and cherishing friends and loved ones.

🍷 Laura

PS…Check out my latest Trader Joe’s obsessions! Just one click away!

 

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TRADER JOE'S SEASONING

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Cook with it, mix it with your peanut butter, or use it on your skin! I can’t get enough of this!

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TRADER JOE'S FOUR SPICES

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TRADER JOE'S SWEET PEPPER JELLY

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Comfort….

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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….

Geralyn's words

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.
Geralyn

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

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  •  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

  • Sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS

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

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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

MUSICAL NOTES“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!” MUSICAL NOTES 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

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Ingredients
  1. • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  3. • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  6. • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  8. • 1 cup white sugar
  9. • 1 egg
  10. • 1 tablespoon water
  11. • 1/4 cup molasses
  12. • 4 tablespoons white sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.
  4. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
  5. Shape the dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar.
  6. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. You don’t need to flatten them.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Makes approximately 30 cookies. Store in an airtight container.

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  • Unbaked cookies can be stored in the freezer and popped in the oven!

Dear Friends,

Wishing you the happiest of Holidays and health in the New year.

Cheers!

Laura

P.S. If you feel like shopping, check out these finds….

LAURA’S FAVORITE THINGS SHOP

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This is the Ultimate Cooking Machine + 2 Delicious Recipes for that Leftover Turkey

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:

NINJA

  • 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.
  • Includes: 6 qt. nonstick cooking pot, glass lid, steaming/roasting rack, multipurpose pan, roast lifters, silicon mitts, cookbook, and travel bag.

Click here to see the Ninja 4 in 1 Cooking System on YouTube.

NINJA 3-IN-1 COOKING SYSTEM $139.95 + FREE SHIPPING 

 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

TURKEY POT PIE

Ingredients

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 

Instructions

  1. To prepare crust, see Pie Dough recipe.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place carrots, celery, and onion into the 64-ounce Precision Processor.
  3. Select CHOP. Transfer chopped vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

TURKEY LASAGNA

TURKEY LASAGNA

Ingredients

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 

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Scatter the zucchini slices over the pasta. Spread with ricotta and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with half the remaining sauce.
  3. Layer the remaining pasta, then top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover pot.
  4. Select Auto-iQ Quick Meals: Recipe 20 and press the START/STOP button.
  5. For best results, let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Dear Friends,

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.

Until next time….

Laura

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN! No Tricks, Just Treat Yourself to this Delicious Pumpkin Cookie with Cream Cheese Frosting!

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

pumpkin-cookies

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on wire rack.
  5. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
  6. 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.
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This Desert puts the Pretty in the Peach!

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

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INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*
  2. Arrange peaches evenly in an 8×8-inch baking dish or stack the peaches halfway up in a ramekin.
  3. Mix flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl using a pastry cutter until evenly crumbled.
  4. Fold oats into flour mixture; sprinkle and press topping into peaches.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Dear Friends,

Cheers to summer, cheers to peaches and cheers to doing what makes you happy! Until next time…

🍑Laura

P.S. CHECK OUT THESE GREAT FINDS…

PEACH COBBLER DISH

Tumbleweed Pottery Ceramic Peach Cobbler Dish $9.99 & Free Shipping

 

 

 

 

 

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ONE GREAT RECIPE WHEN YOUR FRIDGE BITES THE DUST!

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One of today’s nightmares….YOUR FRIDGE DIES!

As you open your refrigerator and there is a distinct dark quiet that overtakes you, you begin to cringe. No hum, no lights…… and you think, “Shit.” Sticking your nose in to hopefully smell nothing,  you immediately feel the carton of milk to gage the temperature. While quickly reaching for the freezer and opening it, you notice that the seafood, steaks, and everything else has begun to defrost….all at once! Quickly surveying the damage, you resort to throwing out the spoiled and attempting to salvage what is left.

Always stocking up on frozen shrimp, I had quite a bit in the freezer as well as a HUGE bag of scallops, a package of andouille sausage …and OKRA! With the help of a small trip to the grocery store, I came up with this delicious recipe.

SEAFOOD GUMBO (SERVES 8) 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 C. diced onion
  • 1 C. diced green pepper
  • 1 C. diced celery
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen and thawed shrimp
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen and thawed scallops
  • 2 C. each of fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • 1 C. sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained.
  • 1/2 C. flour
  • 2 C. fresh or frozen and thawed sliced okra
  • 1/2 C. chipped roma, fresh or canned & drained
  • Chopped scallions & parsley as garnish
  • Cooked rice

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large dutch oven, saute in 3T olive oil:
  • 1 C. each: diced onion, diced green pepper,  & diced celery 

IN A SEPARATE SKILLET SAUTE:

  • 1 lb. andouille sausage and add to the dutch oven.

STIR IN:

  • 2 C. each of fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • 1 C. sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained.

ADD:

  • 1 lb. thawed shrimp & scallops and sauce until pink and tender.

SPRINKLE:

  • 1/2 C. flour over top and blend in the mixture, cooking for 1 min.

POUR:

  • 3 C. prepared Chicken broth over top.

SEASON:

  • 1 t. salt
, 1 t. black pepper
, 1/2 t. white pepper
, 1 t. cayenne pepper, 
1 bay leaf

GARNISH:

  • T. scallions, minced T. parsley

SERVE:

  • With Cooked rice

 

Dear Friends,

It would have been easy to cook up the thawing food and freeze it for another day, but it was fun to get creative. The flavors in the recipe blend beautifully and after purchasing a new fridge, I was able to freeze what we hadn’t eaten for another day.  Serve this dish with an ice cold beer or a crisp sauvignon blanc! If you don’t like seafood, chicken is a great substitute.

Stay tuned for the delicious dishes I made with the thawing steak, chicken and other goodies from my freezer.

Cheers to knowing that if this is the worst thing that happens in a day, life is good. Keeping our thoughts and prayers for victims of the hurricane and our soldiers defending our country is so important.

PLEASE remember to thank our police officers, fire fighters, soldiers and anyone else who provides a service to our country and our safety. In an uncertain world, I do try not to take anything for granted.

Every day is a gift.

Thanks for swinging by & Cheers to you!

🍻 Laura

PS: Check out these great finds for your kitchen:

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BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER

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…..buffalo.jpeg 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 

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. buffalo sauce (such as Franks)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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It’s Not Trifle to Make a Delicious 🍓TRIFLE

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

SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE
This Summer Berry Trifle is light and a beautiful addition to your summer celebration!

Ingredients 

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

Lemon Syrup

1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (from 1/2 medium lemon)

Frosting 

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

Lemon Syrup

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.

Trifle Cream…YUM

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.

Dear Friends,

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:Don't Waste Time

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.

Until next time, Cheers to you❣️

🍹 Laura

CELEBRATIONS SHOPPING!

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Gimme S’more Lovin’ this Summer!

Ahhhhh….summertime! Picnics and seasonal celebrations calls for putting a twist on your favorite treats! 

All the ‘fixins’ for a desert s’mores buffet seems like a great idea until the next day when the ants have invaded the delicious droppings from the well intended sweet treat. “What was I thinking,” you remind yourself.  

Well, alas, here is an inviting alternative to the work and the mess while preserving the integrity of the sweet s’more…. S’Mores Cookies which I found in a back issue of Cuisine Magazine.

No more long, hot, dangerous pokers prancing around the fire in the dark, carrying a flaming marshmallow in search of that elusive graham cracker and chocolate. This delicious cookie even looks the part!

S’Mores Cookies

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Enjoy the delicious taste of s’mores without the mess with these S’Mores Cookies!

Makes 4 dozen cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. each baking soda and kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (8 Tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup each granulated sugar and packed
  • brown sugar 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 24 large marshmallows, halved horizontally or the new flat ones 
  • 48 Hershey’s chocolate bar pieces (4 bars)IMG_8128

Preheat oven to 375°.

  1. Whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated. Blend in flour mixture on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. Scoop dough with #60
    scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) onto ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake cookies 4 minutes. Top each with a marshmallow half and bake until golden, 4–5 minutes more.
  6. Transfer cookies to cooling racks, press chocolate pieces on top, and let stand 5 minutes. 

Dear Friends, Cheers to summertime, picnics and all of the celebrations that create great memories! I love this s’mores cookie, because the thought of rescuing the little ones from flaming marshmallows and dangerous sharp pokers is relieving at best! Feel free to shop my latest finds for trends in style for home and you!

Cheers and happy baking!

🍷 Laura

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my new shop, FOLIO TRENDS, for the latest in ladies’ fashion. These are a few of my faves + FREE SHIPPING!

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3 ULTIMATE COMFORT FOOD RECIPES

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So, what exactly is comfort food? Is it fattening delicious food that sticks to your ribs (and everywhere else) leaving you sitting on the sofa in a wonderful food coma? Is it food that conjures up warm childhood memories of Sunday night dinners in Mom’s kitchen while the snowflakes fall to the ground? Quite possibly both.

I kiddingly crown my husband, Steve, the Comfort Food King. Meatloaf, fried bologna sandwiches, anything covered with melted Velveeta cheese, fried chicken with mashed potatoes, and beef jerky are among his faves. Oh…and pies, and cookies, and don’t forget the layered jello mold! He does, however,  eat pretty healthy for the most part.

It is interesting to hear other’s definition of comfort food. The topic of conversation during various parts of my step class typically ranges from food to shopping. During our cool down the other day, comfort food was the topic.  Lisa, who recently moved here from England, had never heard of meatloaf or fried bologna sandwiches, but she was quick to recommend macaroni and cheese which we all hummed with approval. Gina and Barb showed deference to the bologna sandwiches, and Gina chimed in with her Italian ancestry voted for pasta. Barb offered a grilled muenster cheese sandwich with tomato soup. All the ladies agreed that comfort food is actually  just that; ‘feel good food.’

Recently, Steve and I attended a friend’s comfort food dinner party. Each guest was asked to bring a comfort food dish.  The variety was an interesting range of everything from beef short ribs with polenta to chicken noodle soup. I came to the conclusion, after my quite unscientific study of comfort food, that it is personal.

Today, I have a distinct inner conflict about dinner as I watch the snowflakes fall at the very beginning of spring. Do I look forward to the coming of summer and my commitment to try to fit into last summer’s clothes by exploring dinner salad recipes or say screw it and make a delicious cheese stuffed meatloaf with mashed potatoes worry about the clothes later..? The meatloaf wins as well as some other comfort food faves to add to the list as well as two wonderful pot pies; seafood & chicken. Check these out….

 

MOZZARELLA STUFFED MEATLOAF

Flavorful ground beef stuffed with ooey gooey mozzarella cheese.
Serves 4 to 6

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Ingredients
1 pound ground beef (85%)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup milk
2 TB worcestershire sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 TB worcestershire sauce
1 TB red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
⅛ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper

LET’S MAKE ITI

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a glass baking pan (9×13) with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, milk, and worcestershire sauce.
  • Divide meat in half. Shape one half of the meat into the bottom half of the loaf and place in prepared pan.
  • Place mozzarella slices down the center, leaving ½ inch around the ends and sides.
  • Shape remaining half of meat as the top half of the loaf, sealing the edges. This is a free-form loaf so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pour half of this mixture over the meatloaf, reserving the remaining half for later.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, remove from oven and pour the remaining sauce over the loaf.Increase temperature to 400 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

SEAFOOD POT PIE with PUFF PASTY

FOR THE BROTH

COMBINE:

  • 2  lobster tails (5–6 oz. each)
  • 3  oz. large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup russet potato, peeled, diced 1/4 cup carrot, diced

FOR THE FILLING

SWEAT IN 2 T. UNSALTED BUTTER

  • 1/4 cup leeks, diced
  • 1 t. garlic, minced

WHISK IN:

  • T. all-purpose flour

DEGLAZE WITH; ADD:

  • 2 T. dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup reserved seafood broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas

 

REMOVE FROM HEAT AND STIR IN:

  • Reserved seafood and vegetables
  • 2 oz. lump crab meat
  • 1 t. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 t. chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste

FOR THE PASTRY TOP

BRUSH WITH:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 1 egg, lightly beaten with
  • 1 T. water

 

  • Preheat oven to 425°; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare lobster tails, cutting both sides of the shell (not the meat) down to the fan. Remove meat, reserving shells for broth. Peel and devein shrimp, then halve lengthwise; reserve meat and shells.
  • Combine seafood shells, potato, and carrot in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until vegetables are fork tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain, reserving vegetables and 1/2 cup broth; discard shells and remaining broth.
  • Sweat leeks and garlic in butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Deglaze with sherry. Add reserved broth, whisking until smooth and thickened; stir in cream and peas.
  • Off heat, stir in reserved seafood and vegetables, crab, lemon juice, herbs, and seasonings. Mixture will be very thick.
  • Prepare puff pastry, rolling out on a floured surface to 1/8″ thick. Trim around a 21/2-cup ovenproof dish so the pastry is 3/4″ larger than the diameter of the dish.
  • Cut vents in the pastry with a knife so steam can escape. Transfer filling to the dish and top with the pastry piece. Trim excess pastry, crimp edges, then brush dough with egg wash.
  • Bake pot pie on the prepared baking sheet until top is golden and filling is bubbly, 20–25 minutes.

TURKEY POT PIE with PHYLLO CRUST

Makes 4 servings

CHICKEN POT PIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz.cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flouR
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup whole milk
  • 2  tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt, black pepper, and dry
  • sherry to taste
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
  • 4 Tbsp. each unsalted butter and olive oil
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed to room temperatureMAKE IT!
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Cook mushrooms and thyme in 6 Tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until browned and liquid nearly evaporates, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.
  • Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup sherry; cook until nearly evaporated. Whisk in broth and milk; cook until thickened to desired consistency, 10–12 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice; season with salt, pepper, and sherry.
  • Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Stir in turkey, mixed vegetables, and onions.
  • Divide mixture among four  baking dishes arranged on prepared baking sheet.
  • Heat 4 Tbsp. butter with oil in microwave until butter melts. Place a phyllo sheet on a flat surface; cover remaining sheets with a damp towel to keep them from drying out.
  • Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter-oil mixture; roll into a loose tube. Repeat brushing and rolling with 3 more phyllo sheets, then starting at outer edge, place 4 phyllo tubes end to end in a spiral pattern on top of filling. Repeat phyllo steps for each pot pie. Drizzle any remaining butter- oil mixture over phyllo or coat with nonstick spray.
  • Bake pies until crust is golden and filling is bubbly, about
    20 minutes. Let pies cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

Depending upon the width of your dishes, the number of phyllo sheets needed may vary by one or two.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swing by today. I hope you give these recipes a try. As always, I encourage you to take advantage of all the shortcuts; frozen veggies, rotisserie chicken, but never substitute butter. The substitutes are packed with artificial ingredients, have the similar fat content and zero flavor.

On another note, I have finally launched my ladies’ boutique….FOLIO TRENDS!  Great shopping, great finds, free shipping + incredible prices! Until next time….fullsizeoutput_1ddd

🍷Cheers! Laura