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!…
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 cup spring mix salad greens
Roasted butternut squash and shallots
2 T. Port Vinaigrette
2 T. crumbled blue cheese
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.
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.
PS…Check out my latest Trader Joe’s obsessions! Just one click away!
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….