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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
  • ž teaspoon dried basil
  • ž teaspoon dried thyme
  • ž teaspoon oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ a small finely chopped onion
  • ž teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • ž cup Parmesan cheese
  • ž cup pasta sauce
  • ž 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

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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