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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Banana Apple Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Well, it's been a while! Sorry! Sometimes I get so caught up in my life, I forget about my blog! Yes, I DO have a life other than being in the kitchen.

I had a garage sale last weekend. It went pretty well despite terrible weather. We have so much baby stuff to get rid of, though, that we're extending the sale to go one more weekend. I don't mind sitting outside all day for the sale. But getting everything together was back-breaking.

What's that? Oh. The recipe? Sure. Here ya go:


3 ripe bananas
1 apple (I used a Gala, but any apple will work for this recipe)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

See? They're good for you! TONS of fiber! Very little added sugar. All the fruit in these helps eliminate adding extra sugar. (-:

First, mash the bananas with a fork in a mixing bowl. Oh, peel them first, please. Hey, you never know. Can't leave any details out, ya know.
Then peel, core, and dice your apple. I used my handy dandy Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer from The Pampered Chef to peel, core, and slice the apple, then just made a few vertical cuts to get a perfect dice. LOVE that tool. If you don't have one and want one, let me know.

Next, add the apple, cranberries, cinnamon, egg, and salt to the banana mash and mix it all together with a fork. It should look like this:
Add the sugar and flour and mix until all ingredients are combined and it looks like this:

Fill Mini Muffin tins all the way. I suppose you could use regular muffin tins, but then you can't justify eating 3 of these (or 7....don't judge me).

Sprinkle walnuts on top, if desired. I did half of mine with nuts, half without, because my weirdo husband doesn't like nuts on things. Yes, my husband has faults and this is one of them.
Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.
Since cleanup for these muffins is super easy and fast (you only have one bowl to wash!), you have time to do other things while they're baking. Adlai and I made a candy necklace. I didn't make the candy. Just strung the candy beads onto the stretch string. He got to do the fun part, and ate it. Never mind that it looks like I beat my child. He's just extremely accident prone. This particular "owie" occurred when he ran, full speed ahead, into the open tailgate of a truck.

Take the muffins out of the oven and let them cool a bit....then scarf them down. Because they're good for you. Right? It's ok to eat 3 (7) of them. (-:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spinach and Feta Penne

I'm tired....and I really just want to get this written. So no funny prologue here. Just good, simple yumminess. Here goes:

8oz Penne pasta (I use Barilla Plus)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (or the jarred stuff)
1/2-1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2-3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (I used Italian seasoned diced tomatoes)
4 oz feta cheese, extra for garnishing, if you so desire


Boil your water (salted, of course!) and cook pasta. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Once hot, sauté onion, garlic, and mushrooms in skillet. We're not caramelizing the onions....just cooking them until they are soft or translucent...about 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir it in until it's wilted, about a minute or less. Once spinach is wilted, add the diced tomatoes (do NOT strain). Cook until heated through. Add drained pasta and feta cheese and toss to combine. Garnish with additional feta cheese on top, if desired.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Turkey Pesto Calzones

Holy cow were these ever easy!!! You MUST try them. Really. Do it.

Turkey Pesto Calzones

16 slices of deli sliced turkey breast
4 deli slices of provolone cheese
Pesto sauce (I used basil pesto, but whatever you'd like is fine)
1 can pizza dough

Unroll your pizza dough onto your work surface and spread into an 11"x15" (ish) rectangle. Cut it down the middle lengthwise and then cross wise to make 4 rectangles. Spread about 1-2 tsp pesto on each piece. Place 4 slices turkey and a slice of provolone on each piece of dough. Fold the rectangles over and seal with the tines of a fork. Place on a greased sheet pan and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. VOILA!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bacon Tomato Bisque

This bisque can be made with general every day ingredients that I know I almost always have on hand. It was a first run, but I doubt I'll change anything for next time. It was delicious!

Bacon Tomato Bisque


4-6 slices of bacon, chopped up
1/4 cup butter (half stick)
1/4 cup flour
pinch of nutmeg
1 can vegetable broth (or chicken)
4 oz cream cheese, SUPER soft
1 can Italian style diced tomatoes, not drained
1 can regular diced tomatoes, not drained
1/4 cup milk (i used 2%, but it shouldn't matter)

In a saucepan (whatever you're going to make the soup in), brown the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Discard drippings. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, slowly whisk in the flour and nutmeg (I always use whole nutmeg and just grate what I tastes so much better) until smooth. Slowly whisk in the broth. Bring to a small simmer and whisk occasionally until nice and thick. Reduce heat and add cream cheese, whisking until smooth. (I added my cream cheese after the tomatoes and had trouble getting all the lumps out, so I think adding it before the tomatoes is going to be your best bet.) After the mixture is smooth, add tomatoes and juice. Heat through. Add milk and stir. Do not bring to a boil after adding the milk. Garnish with the crispy bacon. You could also use green onions to garnish as well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grilled Salmon and Asparagus

I don't eat fish. I don't like fish. But my husband does. So tonight I decided to treat him and make grilled salmon. And one of the only vegetables my husband will eat outright is asparagus. So I picked some up (even though it's out of season).

The first step is to marinade the salmon. Here's the recipe I used:

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt (kosher)
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed (or minced)

Mix it all together and throw it in a ziplock bag with the salmon. Leave it in there to marinade 2-8 hours.

When you're ready to grill it, turn your grill on high and let it get really hot. Spray your grill rack with non-stick spray. Be careful when you do this because the flames will get HUGE. But it's necessary if you don't want your fish to stick and fall apart. Put the salmon on the grill, skin side up. Grill with the lid closed for 4 minutes. Using a large flat spatula and flip the fish over. grill for another 6 minutes with the lid closed. When you take the fish off the grill, you might be able to slide your spatula between the fish and the skin. You don't want to eat the skin. It won't taste very good. Then again, I don't think ANY of the fish tastes good.

That's it! You're done with the fish! Super easy!

For the asparagus, snap each piece in half. You don't want the thick bottoms of the asparagus. It's very chewy and woody. Not good for eating. My dogs won't even eat it. It will naturally snap between the edible and "I wouldn't eat that if you paid me" part. I put my asparagus in a grill basket so I don't have to worry about it falling between the grate on the grill. If you don't have one, let me know. I can get you an awesome one. I drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and grind fresh pepper over it, then sprinkle with kosher salt. Throw the basket on the grill for about 3 minutes (no more!) on high heat. That's it! Done!

Super easy dinner and my husband said it was delicious!

Holy Guacamole!

I really don't think there is any better snack than a bowl of fresh guacamole and some chips. I'm actually taking a break after I write each sentence here to eat some. :-)
Here's the recipe:

3 Ripe Avocados*
1 Lime
Cayenne Pepper
Ground Cumin
2 Roma Tomatoes (or 1 small vine ripened tomato)
1/2 small red onion
2 cloves garlic

*Avocados are ripe when the flish gives a bit when pressed gently, but is not "squishy."

Pit and peel the avocados. Juice the lime over the meat of the avocados to keep them from browning. Add salt, pepper and cumin to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon of each) and mash. Chop cilantro and seed and dice tomato(es). Dice the red onion. Mince the garlic (or use a garlic press). Fold the cilantro, garlic, onion, and tomato into the avocado mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes so that the flavors meld together. ENJOY!

I think I made it three sentences without stopping to take a bite. My guac now feels neglected. So I'm going to get back to it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Is there anything better than buttercream icing? Normally I'd say no, but I have to say....chocolate buttercream can be JUST the thing to hit the spot. Especially when it's combined with a rich devil's food cake.

Here's my recipe:

1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 cups confectioners sugar
8 T of butter
a few tablespoons of milk

Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing on slow until combined and then on medium high to whip until all the sugar is incorporated. Add milk a tiny bit at a time, beating it in until you get the right consistency. Thick enough to hold form, but thin enough to pipe. After you have a good consistency, add the cocoa powder, mix on slow until incorporated (or you'll make a BIG mess) and then beat the frosting until fluffy.

I just used a simple Devil's Food Cake mix to make my cupcakes and piped the chocolate buttercream on top of them using my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator. LOVE that tool. Makes anyone look like a master decorator!

Oh, and they were delicious. I won't tell you how many I ate today. :-D

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hearty Beef Stew

This recipe smells heavenly as it's cooking right now. I don't even like meat, but I might have to eat some of least the veggies, anyway. (-;

Here's my recipe:

  • 2 pounds stew beef (I used some of the front quarter meat that is really tough)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash of ground ground cloves
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Toss meat with flour to coat. Heat oil in bottom of a dutch oven. Brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and cloves. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. If you want it thicker, in a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Herb and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Totally made this on a whim last night with no recipe. I was a bit frightened on how it might turn out and had the local pizza place's phone number on standby in case this one was a flop. (-:

Luckily, it wasn't a flop and my husband AND my 3 year old son both ate their fair share of this dish.


1 package cream cheese
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp course salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 T milk
1 garlic clove (pressed or minced)

4 chicken breasts
3 T melted butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 T paprika

Mix the first 7 ingredients together.

Pound chicken breasts until they are thin. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of chicken breasts. Fold the breasts in half so the mixture is contained and secure with a toothpick.

Brush chicken breasts with melted butter. Mix bread crumbs and paprika and roll the buttered chicken breasts in the bread crumb mixture.

At this point, you have two options. I used my Deep Covered Baker (a stoneware piece that I sell made by one of the best makers of kitchen products on the market) and placed them in the bottom. Put the top on. And I microwave them for 12-15 minutes. They were done and perfect.


You could just put them in the oven at 350 until they are done.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pasta con Salsa di Pomodoro Panna

Translated: Pasta with tomato cream sauce.


This is a new recipe I tried out tonight. We had some leftover grilled chicken from last night and I didn't just want to reheat it. Blech. So I decided to slice it up and put it over pasta.

The components are simple. The recipe takes 20 minutes, tops. It's a fast, delicious, and impressive. Here's what I did (approximately, since I typically don't measure much when I'm cooking).


1 Onion, diced (I used a Vidalia, but a regular white or yellow onion would be fine)
1 Clove garlic, pressed or minced
a couple tablespoons of olive oil
1 can Italian style diced tomatoes, NOT drained
2 teaspoons basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
heavy pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil over medium low heat, being careful not to burn it.
Once the onions are soft, add spices and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Boil 5-10 minutes until a lot of the juice has evaporated. This is going to make for a nice robust tomato-ey taste.

Remove from heat, add butter and cream. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour over pasta and you're golden. I added grated parm and a bit of sliced grilled chicken. I used penne pasta because of its ability to hold the sauce so well.

Mangiare Bene!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mangiare Zeppole!

Ah, zeppoles. Light, fluffy pieces of heaven. (-:

Really though....they are quite divine.

Here's the recipe:

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
2 T ground cinnamon
1 stick of butter
a heavy pinch of salt1 cup water
1 cup flour4 eggs
oil for frying


Mix vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Set aside

Put butter, 3 T sugar, salt, and water in a medium saucepan and put on medium heat. Bring to a boil while stirring once in a while. Remove from heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Put back on medium heat until the dough comes into a ball. Remove from heat.
Put butter/flour mixture into a bowl and use an electric mixer (hand or stand) to mix in eggs, one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated into batter before adding the next. Don't drop an entire egg shell in like I did or you'll be picking egg shells out of the batter for 20 minutes. :-/

Heat your oil to 375 degrees. You can use a stainless or cast iron dish on the stove or an electric fryer. Just make sure you're at 375 or your zeppoles will be mushy. No one likes mushy zeppoles. Not even my dogs. Not that I've had this experience......

Drop batter by tablespoon-fuls unto the oil. I use my small cookie scoop. It works like a charm. If you don't have one, you can use 2 small spoons. Don't crowd your pan/fryer! These babies puff up to about 3 times their size. And you don't want to drop the temp of the oil drastically. In my electric fryer, I do about 4-5 at a time and that's pushing it. If they have lots of room to move around, they'll likely flip on their own. If not, you might have to help them by giving them a poke.

Fry about 5-6 minutes (until golden brown). Toss in our cinnamon/sugar mixture and move to a paper towel to drain. If you'd like, you can toss them in powdered sugar instead and forget the vanilla/sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Buon divertimento! (Enjoy!)


So, after making that last recipe I posted, I decided that I didn't like that recipe much. Too eggy for my liking.

So I decided to pull out my husband's grandmother's recipe. She's full blooded Italian and her parents came over on a boat to New York from Italy. So she's first generation Italian-American.

1 egg
2 T oil
¼ C water
2/3 C milk
½ t salt
2 T Baking Powder
2 T sugar
2 C flour

Combine egg, oil, water, and milk in a bowl. once mixed thoroughly, add salt, baking powder, sugar, and flour. Stir (or cheat and use an electric mixer on low) until the lumps are gone.

Drop by spoonfuls into 375 degree oil. Flip as necessary. Fry about 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and then shake in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. (-:

These were MUCH better (in my opinion). Try both recipes and let me know which one you like.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Tonight I made a traditional Italian dish for my friend who recently had a baby. The best things about this recipe are that it is SUPER easy to make and most people have most of the ingredients on hand. Apparently my friend and her husband (and their 3 year old son) thoroughly enjoyed it. So I decided to share the "oh so easy" recipe. (-:

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


1 lb box of spaghetti1/2 lb bacon (or was traditionally prepared with guanciale, but we DEFINITELY can't find that one in our little one horse town)
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3-4 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook spaghetti according to directions.Meanwhile, cut up bacon into smallish pieces and pan fry them in the olive oil (heat the olive oil in your skillet first). You want crispy pieces....they'll get bogged down with the sauce later on.
When your pasta is done cooking, put about 1/2 cup of the pasta water in with your egg yolks and beat with a fork. Add pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a cup of cheese into your egg yolks.

Add the bacon (grease and all) to your pasta and mix to coat. Immediately add the egg yolk mixture to the pasta and mix. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg yolks. Add salt to taste. Dress with some chopped, flat leaf parsley and the remainder of the cheese.

That's it! You're done! And you end up with an amazing Italian dish!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Three-Ingredient Meatballs

I've come to realize that not everyone knows this recipe. I usually just assume it's the one that everyone uses because it's so darn easy. However, it never fails that when I take my meatballs somewhere, people comment and want the recipe....and I laugh.

Here's the recipe for Three-Ingredient Meatballs:

Mix one bottle of chili sauce and one small jar of grape jelly over medium heat. Whisk until smooth. Put a couple pounds of frozen meatballs (sometimes I DO make my own....but for simplicity's sake, we'll stick with frozen) into the slow cooker. Pour sauce over meatballs. Turn slow cooker on low for 2-5 hours. Voila! You're done!

Now, if you like spicy foods and want to try something a bit more challenging, try this recipe:

Chili Lime Meatballs (adapted from a Pampered Chef recipe)


1/2 cup + 1tbs brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1ts fresh grated ginger

1/2 tbs sesame seed oil

3 large cloves garlic pressed

2 tsp Thai red curry paste

2 tbs lime juice

Just put all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer till it thickens, about 15-20 min.


1lb lean ground beef

1/4 plain dried bread crumbs

1 egg

2 tsp Thai red curry paste

2 green onions sliced

lime wedges [optional for a fresh squirt after or for garnish]

Combine all ingredients, then make your meatballs, it makes about 40 small sized ones. Cook over med high heat with a bit of canola oil, until browned. Make sure to turn so all sides brown up. You can serve two ways, pouring glaze on meatballs when on plate or use glaze as a dipping side....I've done both depending on if it's an appetizer or main dish.