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Gifts from the Garden…Yes Please!

I have had the fortune of great friends with the greenest of green thumbs extoll gifts from their garden. I LOVE summer’s bounty am elated when the supply far exceeds the demand. Truthfully, how much zucchini, tomatoes, beats and lettuce can one eat in a week? Hmmmm…..

So, with open hands and a grateful heart, I accept these gifts and in return, I share recipes, dog treats and treasures from my kitchen.

My zucchini growing friends did quite well this year….you know who you are 😘 and I am sharing one of my favorite recipes…Zucchini Napoleons.

ZUCCHINI CAKE NAPOLEONS

Makes 4 servings 

SHRED:

  • 4 zucchini, green, yellow or both (4 cups)
  • 1/2 C. shredded onion
  • 1/2 C. shredded Romano cheese
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

WHISK:

  • 2 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup Italian panko (or Italian breadcrumbs)

HEAT:

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

ASSEMBLE:

  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 Cup prepared pesto (I use Trader Joe’s…cheap + fresh)
  • Basil sprigs

Shred zucchini and onion

Place zucchini and onion in a salad spinner, sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes. 

Spin mixture in a salad spinner to dry; transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove more liquid.

Whisk together egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and baking powder.
Stir in zucchini mixture and panco. 

Scoop batter with 1/2 cup measure onto a baking sheet and press into 8 cakes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil with drippings in skillet. SautÊ cakes in two batches over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.

Add a mozzarella slice to each cake in the last 2 minutes of sautÊing to slightly melt mozzarella. 

Transfer cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate. 

Assemble Napoleons by layering

  • fresh mozzarella slice
  • a tomato slice
  • 2 T. pesto 
  •  Top each with a remaining cake and garnish with a basil sprig; serve immediately 

Dear Friends,

Summer’s bounty isn’t over until it’s over. I hope you enjoy this delicious dish. It has great presentation and doesn’t take forever to make…just a few small steps.

Great friends are truly a blessing. I remember taking a Steven Covey class many years ago where he emphasized the concepts of deposits and withdrawals in friendship. “Over deposit and under withdraw” was his best advice in any relationship and no words could be truer.

Cheers to friends, family and everything else you love. Until next time…

🍸Laura

PS..Check out my latest obsessions…

OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner $29.95 + FREE SHIPPING

SALAD SPINNER

Ninja 4-in-1 Blender and Food Processor System, 1200-Watt Auto-iQ Base with Blending, Processing, Spiralizing, Mixing, and Dough (AMZ012BL), Black $226.99 + FREE SHIPPING

NINJA FOOD PROCESSOR

Chef’s Medal Food Serving Tray Set: 3 Tier Metal Display Stand with 3 White Rectangular Stoneware Platters | Perfect for Party Foods, Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes $29.97 + FREE SHIPPING

SERVING TRAYS

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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!

 

Trader Joe’s Seasoning – 21 Salute Seasoning , Chile Lime and Everything but the bagel Seasoning by Trader Joe’s $13.87 + Free shipping!

TRADER JOE'S SEASONING

Not only are these amazing, but I LOVE the way they stack!!

Trader Joes(16 fl oz) Coconut Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil by Trader Joes by Trader Joe’s $13.49 + Free Shipping!

TRADER JOES COCONUT OIL

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

Cooking With a Touch of Savory Trader Joes Chile Lime, 21 Salute, Onion Salt and Seasoning Salt (4/pk) by Trader Joe’s $18.80 + FREE SHIPPING!

TRADER JOE'S FOUR SPICES

Trader Joes Hot & Sweet Pepper Jelly by Trader Joe’s $9.50 + FREE SHIPPING

TRADER JOE'S SWEET PEPPER JELLY

This is a staple if you entertain! Mix it with cream cheese + serve with crackers for an easy and delicious appetizer!

Trader Joe’s Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 15 by Trader Joe’s $9.48 + FREE SHIPPING!

TRADER JOE'S FACE LOTION WITH SPF 15

Keep this by your sink and wear it every day to help keep those wrinkles away!

Trader Joe’s Nourish All-in-one-facial Cleanser $13.07 + FREE SHIPPING!

TRADER JOE'S FACIAL CLEANSER

LOVE LOVE LOVE this gentle facial cleanser. I even use it to soak my bathing suits after swimming!

All-Clad E7649764 HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free Roaster Cookware, 13-Inch by 16-Inch, Black $79.95 + FREE SHIPPING!

ALL CLAD ROASTING PAN

This is literally, the BEST roasting pan! Large enough for everything and super easy to clean!

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This BLT Salad will be a Mother’s Day Favorite!

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

with

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 

COOK:

1 lb. dry campanelle pasta
1 lb. thick-sliced bacon, diced

WHISK:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp.sugar

Salt and black pepper to taste

STIR IN:

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce 4 cups halved grape tomatoes

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!

Cheers! Laura

CELEBRATIONS SHOPPING

SHEIN Lantern Sleeve Tied Neck Blouse Regular price $95.99 Sale price $49.99 + Free 7 day shipping!

SHEIN Lantern Sleeve Tied Neck Blouse

JLN Freshwater Pearl Rope Bracelet Regular price $39.99 Sale price $14.99

JLN Freshwater Pearl Rope Bracelet

 

24/7 Comfort Apparel Long Cool Woman Off the Shoulder Dress Regular price $96.99 Sale price $64.99 + Free 7 Day Shipping!

24/7 Comfort Apparel Long Cool Woman Off the Shoulder Dress

Women’s Tile Print Tunic Regular price $64.99 + Free 7 Day Shipping!

Women's Tile Print Tunic

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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, sautĂŠ, 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

Gallery

3 Sensational Recipes to take the Labor out of your Labor Day!

Labor Day….summer’s last hurrah? I’m not sure what happened to the ‘dog days of summer,’ but our August has been more of an Eskimo Dog…..chilly with precipitation! Fortunately, the outlook for Labor Day looks good so let the picnics begin!

Last minute company?? No worries with these eazy breezy dishes! Keep it seasonal AND simple…

First, let’s start with an appetizer that doubles as a salad…..

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SLICED BOSC PEARS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PECANS

Simply slice pears in 1/4 inch slices, top with 1 T. goat cheese, add a toasted pecan and serve! Want to fancy it up? Drizzle a little store bought…did I say that??? …..balsamic glaze over the top.

WEDGE SALAD DIP

I found this recipe on Pinterest recently, and I thought…”Genius!’ This dip has all of the incredible flavors of a wedge salad, serves a crowd and is always a hit! Duplicating this as a Greek Salad Dip, or any of your favorite salad combos work well! *As a side note, however, not everyone loves blue cheese, so I like to use the blue cheese on 1/2 and label it!

IMG_8473INGREDIENTS
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 package Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1½ c. chopped romaine lettuce
  • ½ c. chopped tomatoes
  • ½ c. chopped cooked bacon
  • 2-4 oz. crumbled blue cheese (according to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and Ranch Dip mix and mix until smooth.
  2. Spread into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or other similarly sized pan.
  3. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese, and chives.
  4. Enjoy with your favorite crackers

NOW FOR THE MAIN COURSE!!

Crowd pleasing  and delicious!

GRILLED HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE SANDWICHES WITH ROASTED ONIONS AND PEPPERS

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  • Pre-heat oven to 400*F.
  • Slice assorted peppers, red, yellow, green & orange in 1/2″ slices.
  • Slice sweet onions, preferably Vidalia in 1/2″ slices.
  • Place onions & peppers in a roasting pan. Drizzle 3 T. over top & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are transparent. 
  • *Careful not to over-roast or they become mushy…..
  • Grill assorted Italian sausages. Cut into 2 inch slices & place on top of the onions & peppers. Serve with fresh Italian rolls & enjoy!

 

For dessert?? Vanilla Ice cream with fresh sliced peaches on top!

VANILLA ICE CREAM WITH PEACHES

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for swinging by! As I have gotten older, even though I love to cook….and eat….dining out is soooo much easier. I’m constantly on the hunt for dishes that have amazing flavor and have the look of something complicated that took a lot of time to prepare.

Cheers to enjoying your Labor day filled with time spent just the way you like it.

Until next time…

🍹Laura

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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:

Le Creuset

Le Creuset White Signature Enameled Cast Iron 4.5 Quart Round Dutch Oven $299.95 with free shipping (Comes in a variety of colors)

 

 

 

 

CLAMBAKE POTGranite Ware 6194-1 Enamel-on-Steel 2-Tier Decorated Clam-and-Lobster Steamer with Faucet, 19-Quart $47.70 with Free Shipping

 

 

Seafood Boil Party Plates and Bibs – Bundle of 2 Items: Pack of 4 Plastic Plates and 4 Plastic Bibs (Red Lobster) $18.95 with Free Shipping

LOBSTER PLATTER AND BIBS

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a great time of year to cash in on those summer favorite sales! Check out these adorable flip flops!

 

GUESS FLIP FLOPSGUESS Women’s Tutu Flip-Flop in black, navy & pink. $17.99

 

 

SILVER SANDALSSPARKLING BOW SANDAL – SILVER $17.95 with Free Shipping

 

 

 

 

 

TIGER FLIP FLOPSGuess Women’s Titaney Flip-Flop $17.36 with Free Shipping

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Spring Break with a Side of Fries

Today was enlightening. My first day of vacation and not only did I wear my usual two piece bathing suit, skirted and high waisted, of course, but I noticed a distinctive sign that I needed to lose weight. The sign wasn’t as blatant as you might think. The scale this morning didn’t yell, “GET OFF OF ME!” ….no one tried to harpoon me on the beach……but the sign was there. You see, every chaise lounge at the pool is equipped with a numbered flag that you raise in order to let the server know that you would like to order food. Yep! You guessed it, mine had no flag.

So, my daughter, Jodi and I decided to have a late lunch of blackened mahi tacos with a mango salsa; healthy, and flavorful. It was happy hour, and we were happy,  so we enjoyed a skinny margarita. Suddenly, our server delivered these amazing french fries to the next table. Jodi and I shot each other a glance and beckoned the server to bring us an order. This little diet destructor was well worth the calories; …….thick cut french fries served with a fresh raspberry mayo on the side. We IMG_7567quickly justified consuming these fat fried bursts of flavor by reminding ourselves that we did water jog🙃.  So, essentially, the moral of this story is “calories in and calories out.” There are, however, good calories and not so good calories, but an occasional splurge isn’t a bad thing. Unfortunately, I often justify these binges by thinking, “If this were my last meal, it would totally be worth it.” It was.

This trip, I decided to create healthy and delicious meals using all of the fresh fish Florida has to offer. At the local fish market, grouper was recommended as a hearty fish that could easily be made into a piccata dish. Wikipedia explains piccata as “meat or fish sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices”.  Often prepared with veal or chicken, this recipe proved to be a keeper. Enjoy!

GROUPER PICCATA

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  • 4 grouper filets about 4 oz. each,  blotted dry and seasoned with 1/2 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • thinly sliced lemon slices

Dredge fillets in flour.
Heat 2 tsp. oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high until it shimmers. Add half the fillets and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer fillets to a platter; tent with foil. Repeat heating and cooking with remaining oil and fillets.
Add wine, lemon juice, and capers to skillet; cook 30 seconds. Off heat, swirl in butter until it melts; season with 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt, add lemon slices until softened.  Serve fillets with sauce over rice or angel hair pasta.

Dear Friends,

On the plane ride home from vacation, we hit a bit of turbulence. The kids on the plane clearly coming home from spring break, squealed with excitement at the sudden dips and turns. The parents, on the other hand looked horrified. Looking for a diversion, I noticed the cloud formations outside of my window and admired the unusual landscape the sunlight created as the rays bounced off of the sloping hills and valleys of the thick clouds.

Snapping a photo of this unusual scenery, placing it in the archives of vacation memories, it occurred to me the way in which this is a reminder of our need to “take time and smell the flowers” as we get older.  For so many years, we simply hurried to our next destination either not knowing or not realizing that life itself is a journey filled with moments worth pausing for celebration.

As always, thanks for stopping by and cheers to enjoying the journey. 

🍹 Laura

P.S. Check out my new store FOLIO TRENDS where you find great styles and incredible prices! Sign up for email alerts to get great savings!

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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
Âź 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

 
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3 BOWLS to put the SUPER in your SUPER BOWL PARTY!

So, you’re not a big football fan. I get it! I live in Cleveland. But you know that SUPER BOWL SUNDAY seems to be an American holiday handed down to us.  The day the world seems to stop and either focuses on a football game, or commercials….that would be me.  Football in Cleveland isn’t exactly a nail biting experience, so the thought of cheering on a team, ANY TEAM, sounds inviting. Well, if you can’t beat em, join em and plan the perfect Super Bowl party! Set it up, Self Serve, Easy Clean up! Do it! And NEVER miss another Super Bowl game, or commercial!

It’s SUPER BOWL 51, and you can find the foods from each team to serve.
For the New England Patriots you might try your hand at New England Lobster Rolls.grid-cell-20146-1385426272-16

And for the Atlanta Falcons the perfect desert would be Georgia Peach Cobbler. 

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Friends LOVE to bring something, so why not have a Chili cook off and have everyone bring a crockpot of their favorite chili OR set up a great chili bar of your own, add a plate of cookies and a self serve bar. It’s a party!

One of my favorite chili recipes comes from a local Ohio chain of restaurants called “Skyline Chili.” The recipe is a copy but pretty damn close and pretty damn delicious. This is how you order it up or as they call it “ways.”

Ways…….
Their signature dish
3-Way
Steaming spaghetti covered with their secret recipe chili, topped with a mound of shredded cheddar cheese.

4-Way
A 3-Way with onions or beans.

5-Way
A 3-Way with onions and beans.

Chili Spaghetti
Steaming spaghetti covered with our secret recipe chili.

CINCINNATI CHILI……THE RECIPE!

ways

Serves 4

CHOP TOGETHER:

2 small yellow onions, chopped 5 cloves garlic
2 lb. ground round (or l lb. ground round & 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey)

ADD:

2 Tbsp.each unsweetened cocoa powder, Worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. each chili powder, tomato paste, and sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. each ground cinnamon and celery salt

1/2 tsp. each ground allspice and cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups water
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)

SERVE IT UP

Cooked spaghetti Shredded Cheddar Chopped red onions

Pulse yellow onions and garlic in a food processor until minced. Add ground round and process until paste-like; transfer to a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook mixture until meat is no longer pink; drain and return to pan.

Add cocoa, Worcestershire, vinegar, chili powder, tomato paste, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, celery salt, allspice, cayenne, and cloves; cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and tomato sauce; bring mixture to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Serve chili on spaghetti topped with Cheddar and red onions. (Optional red kidney beans drained and warmed)

How about a……

 Bowl of Tequila Chili
Slow-cooked with beef, poblanos, jalapeĂąos & onions. Topped with 3-cheese blend.

Try this delicious copycat recipe from Chili’s Restaurant. Make it a super easy clean up and serve it in an edible bread bowl! bread-bowl

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  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces tequila
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat, breaking it up with a spoon while it cooks; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, kidney beans, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, tequila, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper; simmer 20 minutes.

Last but not least…..Try this creamy flavorful twist on the usual bowl of chili!

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

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Serves 4

 

MELT:

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 cups diced white onions

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

STIR IN:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups half-and-half

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 can navy beans (15 oz.), drained and rinsed

1 can diced jalapeños (4 oz.)

Juice of 1/2 a lime Salt to taste

Diced fresh tomatoes and fresh cilantro leaves

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and cumin; sweat, partially covered, until onions soften, 10 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping up any brown bits, then bring to a simmer. Add half-and-half and chicken; simmer chili until thick, 5 minutes. Stir in beans, jalapeños, and lime juice; season with salt. Garnish chili with tomatoes and cilantro.

 

THEN THERE’S THE BAR……Set it and forget it!

BLOODY MARY & MIMOSA BAR

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OH Yeah!! That yummy GEORGIA PEACH COBBLER…..

Ingredients

1cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1cup milk
1/2teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2cup butter or margarine, melted
1cup sugar
1can (29 ounces) sliced peach, drained or 3 ripe fresh peaches sliced.
Directions

1 Heat oven to 375ÂşF.
2 Stir together Bisquick mix, milk and nutmeg in ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches. Stir in butter until blended. Stir together sugar and peaches; spoon over batter.
3 Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Dear Friends,

Whether you’re a Patriots fan, a Falcon’s fan, love Super Bowl commercials, want to see Lady Gaga at half time,  or just love food, I hope you enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday! 

Cheers!

Laura

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HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BUY GREEN BANANAS

You can’t turn it back, I keep reminding myself….But now I realize that there are definitely 5 signs that let you know you are getting older.

What led me to this realization was a recent trip to the west coast of Florida. As we strolled from the airport security to our gate, we were approached by a man on an electric cart asking us if we’d like a ride. Normally the dudes on those carts transport fat people, old people, celebrities, people with physical challenges or lazy people and they just whiz on by, but this time stopped to see if Steve and I would like a ride. A RIDE? US? You’ve got to be kidding! I didn’t think we were any of those! That was the first sign.

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While hiking in the woods several weeks ago with my son, his wife and my granddogter, Harper, they asked if I wanted to sit down and rest for a while. I teach step aerobics, I reminded them, and myself. That was sign #2.

 

 

 

I no longer get carded, even if it’s required by law and on Tuesdays at our local outlets, I never have to show my driver’s license in order to get the senior discount…sign #3.

Perfect strangers ask me to watch their stroller and packages in a shopping mall and sometimes even their sleeping baby in the stroller….sign #4.

And last, but not least, the catalogs and email inbox have gone from Victoria’s Secret to AARP and Frontgate.

Trying to maintain my sense of humor about the aging process, I have lumped women and men into categories; everything from those who literally let themselves go to those who habitually try to reverse the process. What used to be called a moo moo is now called a tunic, and lifting faces or face lifting has been replaced by pumping some kind of shit into wrinkles to puff them out making someone appear to have stayed in the boxing ring too long.

I used to wonder why anyone would want to live in a 55+ community but now I get it. Reminders of inevitable aging are everywhere, not just in the mirror, and perhaps living in a community that isn’t youth focused isn’t such a bad thing. I, for one, love being around young people and find delight in sharing their youthful optimism and humor, so I’m not sure how happy I would be in that kind of community.

At 61, there is a realization that there is an end, and I find myself counting the hopeful years that we have left living in good health. I have some rules to follow like never taking a selfie or face timing from below my chin…and always holding the camera over my head, forcing us to look up.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt with the pain of my daughter in law’s sudden death of her mother and the pain of Steve’s daughters coming to terms with the few months their mother had left after finding out she was stricken with pancreatic cancer. There are no words, but one thing I do know is that time is precious, too precious not to waste on negativity of any kind. So, as my Steve always says, “I have no yesterdays. Time took them away. I only have today and hope for tomorrows.”

Upon returning from our trip to Florida, I distinctly noticed by the smell,  that I had left some bananas in the fruit bowl that were way overripe…so I tried this amazing banana bread that I recently found on Pinterest. I’m still not sure at what age I should no longer buy green bananas, so instead I did some research about how to quickly ripen bananas. As for this delicious recipe, I did modify it and make it without the glaze which reduced the sugar and the calories. The banana bread is so flavorful, the glaze isn’t necessary.  I’ve added it in the event you may want to give it a try. 

CARAMEL BANANA UPSIDE DOWN BREAD


Ingredients
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
About 2 bananas, sliced in Âź inch rounds
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1½ cup whole wheat flour
ž cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Âź teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
2 large eggs
⅓ cup coconut oil or oil of choice
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Caramel Glaze: (Optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
Spread the brown sugar on the bottom of the loaf pan. If using nuts, sprinkle them evenly over the sugar. Dot with the butter. Put it in the oven for about 8 minutes. Stir the mixture until dissolved and spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of the banana slices on top of the sugar mixture along the entire bottom of the pan.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add all the remaining wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Do not over-beat.
Pour the batter over the sliced bananas in the pan.
In an oven preheated to 325 degrees F, bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean but moist.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it on a cake platter.

To prepare the Caramel Glaze, place the butter, brown sugar and heavy cream in a small saucepan (you can also microwave the ingredients for a minute). Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for a minute. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake (on the upside down side with the bananas on top).

FIVE WAYS TO QUICKLY RIPEN BANANAS

1) Bananas in a bunch take about 24-48 hours to ripen. Bananas that grow together also ripen together, so only separate the ones you want to ripen more quickly.

2) Placing bananas in warm places takes about 24-48 hours to ripen.

3) Place the bananas in a paper bag. It takes about  12-24 hours to ripen.

4) In the oven, ripening bananas takes about 30-50 minutes. The peels turn shiny lack when they are ripe. 

5) Microwave your bananas 30 seconds-2 minutes. 

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swinging by today. I know my article was somewhat tongue in check with a bit of morbid reality thrown in, but laughter is always a great cure for worry, and it makes sense not to worry about things you can’t control. So, after all of this, I will continue to buy green bananas now that I know how to hurry the ripening of them.

Until next time…

Cheers to lots more years!   Laura

 

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Add This Delicious Little Pumpkin Cookie to your Fall List of Things to Bake

Now that the election is over, giving thanks to our Veterans, and with Thanksgiving in TWO WEEKS, it’s time to focus on feel good things. This cookie is so delicious and fills your kitchen with mouth watering fall smells of cinnamon and pumpkin. Warning….. if you decide to sample one hot out of the oven, be prepared to have another. These cookies are simple to make and if you like cakey cookies, you’re in for a treat. One tip: when you do go to roll them into the cinnamon sugar, they are a little sticky, so put a little butter on your hands.

CINNAMON PUMPKIN COOKIES

Makes 27 COOKIES

fullsizeoutput_19f8.jpegINGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin (we use Libby’s canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into rounded tablespoons and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula or the palm of your hand.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Dear Friends,

No matter what you hoped for in this election, we need to focus on just being nice and remain hopeful. Take time to thank our Veterans, share a cookie and share a smile.

Cheers,  Laura

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3 ROCKIN RECIPES TO RALLY FOR A WIN! GAME 7!!

Cleveland fans are amazing. No matter what the weather, they are out there showing support….even for the….Browns. But tonight is an amazing night for baseball fans! First pitch at 8 tonight…73* and even if you aren’t from Cleveland, the enthusiasm is contagious and well worth the visit! 

Here are some delicious dishes for your rally party! These are great do aheads, so your guests can help themselves and you can enjoy the game! Enjoy and GO TRIBE!!

REUBEN STRATA WITH THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

If you don’t have any leftover corned beef, buy about 1 pound unsliced corned beef from the deli counter at your local grocery store.

Makes 12 servings
COAT:

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

COVER:

  • 11/4 lb. sliced pumpernickel bread, staled
  • 3 cups diced corned beef
  • 3 cups sauerkraut, well drained
  • 4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 11/2 cups Thousand Island dressing
  • Salt and black pepper

BLEND:

  • 10 eggs
    21/2 cups whole milk
    2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Coat bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter. Cover bottom of dish with a layer of bread slices. Top with 1 cup each corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup dressing over top, then season with salt
and pepper. Repeat layering two more times.
Blend eggs, milk, and Dijon until combined; pour over layers in baking dish. Sprinkle remaining
1 cup cheese over top. Cover strata with plastic wrap and press down. Refrigerate strata at least 1 hour
or up to 24 hours. Remove plastic and preheat oven to 350°.
Bake strata, uncovered, until
puffy and cooked through (160°), about 1 hour. Let strata stand
10 minutes before serving.

SIMPLE ROMAINE SALAD WITH RED WINE VINAIGRETTE

This is quite possibly the most delicious dressing I have ever made! Serving small individual salads makes entertaining easy so you can enjoy your guests and the game! 

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For the Salad

Layer cut up romaine lettuce and top with shaved parmesan

 For the Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp minced shallot
2 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

This recipe I found on pinterest (and borrowed the beautiful pic) and is soooo easy and delicious. Perfect for a game! (You definitely want to double this recipe!

ORANGE MARMELDE-SIRACHA WINGS

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Ingredients

2 lbs chicken wings & drummettes (separated)
1/4 cup salted butter
2 Tbsp siracha sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp orange marmalade
optional: sesame seeds for garnish
Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Boil wings for 8 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain wings and use a paper towel to dry them completely. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place wings on foil and bake for 20 minutes. Turn wings over and bake for 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile melt butter in a sauce pan. Add marmalade & siracha sauce. Mix and cook over medium/low for 5 minutes. After wings are finished baking, toss them in the sauce and place back on cookie sheet to broil for 2 – 3 minutes until the sauce on the wings start to crisp up. Garnish with sesame seeds 

Dear Friends,

As always, thanks for swinging by! Even if you aren’t going to rally tonight, I hope you enjoy these simple and delicious recipes. The magic to great entertaining is making it simple but making it look like you put a lot of effort into everything.

Food, family and friendship all go hand in hand so cheers to making time together special.

GO TRIBE!

🍺Laura

 

 

 

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HOW TO PLAN THE ULTIMATE TAILGATE PARTY

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If you want to know what a ‘thing’ tailgating is, just take a walk through the UK Stadium, or the muni lot outside of Cleveland Stadium before a football game. Being raised by parents from Brooklyn, New York, the concept of eating food served from the back of a pick up truck was bizarre yet fascinating. Actually, tailgating is a serious thing.

Googling the ultimate tailgate supplies was amazing and for many people its much more than a thing….its a huge investment in time and dollars. Check out these rare and unusual finds……

Tailgater Dual Tank Backpack Drink Dispenser 210oz $39.95

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Backpacks aren’t just for books!
Backpack beverage dispenser serves up shots, your favorite brew, or most delicious tailgate kool-aid in style
Lightweight nylon, padded shoulder straps, mesh bag for extra cups
Two 24″ in canister hold a whopping 210 ounce capacity; measures 25½”x12”x4”

Deluxe Six-Pack Beer Belt Holster

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Really………

Hiding that six pack around your waist has never been so easy
It even has a hidden zippered pocket on the back keep your money, license, and credit cards safe
Featuring a classic camo appearance
Measures 43”x4½” and adjusts to accommodate waistlines between 28” and 43″

 

The Grill Sergeant BBQ Apron $19.99 and free shipping for Amazon Prime Members

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Get your grill on
Our unique camouflage grilling apron holds everything a real man could want or need for an afternoon of fun.
One size fits all with adjustable strap
Makes a Great Fun Gag Gift
Great for parties

 

Instagate Tailgate In A Box: $19.99 + $6.49 shipping

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#1 game day solution for tailgaters
More than 50 tailgate items in 1 over $50 in value
Includes foldable tailgate grill, 3 bbq tools, minit-liteÂŽ charcoal and party supplies
2016 Tailgater magazine game ball award winner
New and improved value and performance

 

And last, but not least….this is actually a good one….

NFL Wooden Tailgate Toss Cornhole Football Field $74.86 and free shipping for Amazon Prime Members

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Choose your NFL team

Size: 24 x 48″
Two 24″ x 48″ all-wood target boards
Vinyl shield with a Football field design and your teams favorite colors proudly displayed
Foldable legs for easy storage
Eight 16oz bean bags included

Here’s the million dollar question: Tonight is a gigantic nite for Cleveland sports,  having both the Cavs game after the official Ring Ceremony AND hopefully the last World Series game for the Indians, so do we call it a tailgate party, or is that just a football thing? If we had to rename the snack attack for these sports, we could call it “BASE ‘N BASKET BALL SNACK PACK!” Hmmmm.

Here’s an easy and crowd pleasing appetizer:

PIZZA CUPS

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Ingredients

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jar (14 oz) pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
36 wonton skins

Directions

1 Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray.
2 In 10-inch skillet, brown beef with pizza seasoning and salt over medium-high heat until beef is browned; drain. Return beef to skillet; stir in pizza sauce.
3 Place 1 wonton skin in each muffin cup. Divide half of ground beef evenly among muffin cups. Top each with about 1 tablespoon cheese. Repeat layers starting with second wonton skin.
4 Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

PEPPERONI PIZZA FOOTBALL CHEESE BALL

This Pepperoni Pizza Football Cheese Ball is easy to make, delicious, and perfect for a tailgate party!

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Ingredients
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp Italian seasoning
8 oz finely shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 5 oz bags mini pepperoni slices
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped bacon
1 4 oz jar diced pimientos, drained and patted dry

Instructions
Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese.
Mix in half of the pepperoni slices, green onions, bacon, and pimientos.
Line a small bowl with plastic wrap. Spoon cheese mixture into bowl. Press mixture into bowl so that it takes on the shape of the bowl. Use the ends of the plastic wrap to wrap up the cheeseball firmly. Transfer the wrapped cheese ball to a cutting board and use your hands to shape it into a football.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Remove the cheese ball from the fridge and cover with remaining pepperoni, pressing gently to adhere.
Serve with pretzels, bread sticks, crackers, and veggies.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for popping in! If sports is your thing and you love tailgating, I hope you enjoy these recipes and reading about these unusual supplies to complete your tailgate! 

Cheers to celebrating enjoying all that each season has to offer with friends and family!

Until next time…

🍸Laura

 

 

 

 

 

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SURPRISING DOLLAR STORE TRICKS (AND TREATS) FOR ENTERTAINING

So, you are invited to holiday parties for every holiday, and the worst thing is when you forget to label your dish with your name, or it gets washed off, and you either never get your dish back, or its months, and yes, maybe a year or two. And when the next occasion arises to use that perfect dish,  you  insanely look everywhere. After every cupboard, drawer, and storage bin has been ransacked (that’s an extreme word, but true) you realize that you took an appetizer to Sally’s house, and never got your dish back. SOLUTION: THE DOLLAR STORE.

I know, I know, your mother always told you to watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. However, can you put a price on your favorite pumpkin platter or your divine deviled egg dish? NO. The seasonal serving opportunities await your dollars at the dollar store. By the way, I am not making any money endorsing this retail establishment, although, not a bad idea!

Today, we are going to a fall clambake and my $2.00 purchase created this fun seasonal serving idea for a delicious desert that I call PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES. I have two favorite versions for this dip.

Normally now, I just leave the serving dish with the leftovers at the party, but this one came out so cute, I’m conflicted, so I may bring it home 🎃

PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES

RECIPE 1 (a little sweeter than recipe 2)

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Ingredients

ž cup International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer
1 3.4 oz package pumpkin spice instant pudding
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
Graham cracker crumbs for garnish

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, whisk together the International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer with pumpkin spice instant pudding. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and sugar.
Add in pudding to cream cheese mixture and beat.
Once well combined, fold in the 2 cups of thawed whipped topping and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, fill bowl with Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Dip topped with graham cracker crumbs.

If you can’t find pumpkin spice instant pudding (it’s pretty  seasonal), you can use either vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding with a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BITES

RECIPE 2

INGREDIENTS

1 -15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 -8 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed
1 package 1.5 oz. Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 

Directions

Cream together all ingredients with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with Vanilla Wafers, Cookies, or Graham Crackers.

img_6499Dear Friends,

Celebrating something every day helps to create the happiness we all deserve to have. For me, its difficult to overlook the inevitable snow, but I love enjoying the beauty of this season and everything that comes with it.

Cheers to you! Laura

 

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EVERYTHING BIRTHDAY CAKE

Today I’m 61…..  So, let’s talk birthday cake! And cocktails…ok…

BOOZIE BIRTHDAY CAKE COCKTAILS!

There are so many theories about where birthday cakes originated, and even when the first birthday candles were blown out, but the tradition has survived the test of time with newer variations popping up daily. Just check out the Pinterest Birthday Cake board!  So many cool ideas from so many amazingly creative people! 

Click here to see why you get to celebrate your birthday every year!  Go figure that the ancient Romans were the first to celebrate birthdays but only for men! Yikes!

SO MANY CHOICES!! TOO MANY CHOICES? NOPE.

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CHEERS TO CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS! recipelarge_uvbdaycake

THE SIGNATURE PINNACLE BIRTHDAY CAKE

birthday-cake1 PART PinnacleŽ Cake Vodka 
1 PART DeKuyperÂŽ Vanilla Liqueur
1 PART Half and Half
Rim martini glass with multi-colored sprinkles. Shake with ice and strain into prepared glass. pinnacle-cake.jpg

 

 

 

THE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

DRINK-GRID-0090-Upside-Down-Cake-2

2 OZ SMIRNOFFÂŽ ICED CAKE
1 OZ ORANGE JUICE
1 OZ PINEAPPLE JUICE
TOP OFF WITH CLUB SODA
GARNISH WITH SPRINKLES + CHERRY AND AN ORANGE SLICE.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

recipelarge_pineappleupsidedowncake
1 part UV Cake Vodka
3 parts pineapple juice

Blend with ice and serve.


THE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE MARTINI

DRINK-GRID-0046-ICED-STRAWBERRY-SHORT-CAKE-MARTINI12 OZ SMIRNOFFÂŽ ICED CAKE
3 FRESH STRAWBERRIES
2 OZ LEMONADE
0.5 OZ AMARETTO LIQUEUR
MUDDLE STRAWBERRIES AND VODKA + ADD THE LEMONADE, AMARETTO AND A LITTLE ICE TO A COCKTAIL SHAKER + SHAKE BRIEFLY BUT VIGOROUSLY +

STRAIN INTO A CHILLED MARTINI GLASS + GARNISH WITH A STRAWBERRY

BIRTHDAY CAKE SHOT
All you need to do now is make a wish.birthdaycake_101ds2

  • 1 OZ BaileysÂŽ Vanilla Cinnamon Irish Cream
  • .5OZ SmirnoffŽ Iced Cake™ Flavored Vodka
  • Whipped Cream & Multi-colored Sprinkles
  • Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Strain into a shot glass.
  • Add whipped cream and sprinkles.

And…my favorite one….THE EXPRESSO MARTINI that my daughter Jodi surprised me with after an amazing sunset cruise around Chicago last week!

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2 OZ BaileysŽ Espresso Crème Liqueurcocktails_baileys_espresso_martini

.25OZ SmirnoffÂŽ vodka

 25OZ Espresso

Shake over ice and Strain into a martini glass.

Thank you for swinging by today and I hope you enjoy making these boozy birthday creations or some of your own! Cheers to many more birthdays, big and small!

Laura

CHECK OUT MY SUNSET’S SHOPPING…..

Lilly Pulitzer Women’s Carmel Dress $98.00 & FREE Returns.

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Rebecca Minkoff Avery Cross-Body Bag $150.46 Free Shipping for Prime Members & Free Returns.

 

 

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Rebecca Minkoff Women’s Georgina Gladiator Sandals $63.49 sale price & FREE Returns.

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