Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday's Feast #170

After a week off due to Thanksgiving we are right back on track again with another Friday Feast! Hope you enjoy it...

What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?

I have always and will always love The Zipper...would I ever ride it now? No way. As we grow older I think we realize just how many things can go wrong on a crazy, unnatural ride like that!!! Will I die a thousand deaths inside the first time that I have to watch my children ride it? Oh most definitely!


How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?

I guess I haven't been in one in so long I am not really sure how I react. I probably become more loud and outgoing than I usually am due to being nervous about it.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?

Probably about a 2 or 3. I really have so much on my mind right now that there is no room for deep, philosophical if someone wanted to discuss my grocery list I would be able to hang alright!

Main Course

Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?

I was going to but I never got around to it so probably not. I had meant to get one for my girls but never did that either. I am calling as I type this! Thanks for the reminder!


Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?

Maybe about 4 or 5. I don't even know what movies are out this season!!!

Hope you have a great sister is flying in tonight so I know I will!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

It Was Pizza Again!

Yesterday was a very disorganized day for me! I am trying to get a ton of things done before Friday because my sister is coming to visit and I want to spend as much time with her as I can. Unfortunately I always take on way too many things and end up a little frazzled.

This week I decided that I needed to get all of my recipes from this blog put in recipe format and on my website as well as on here. Should have been easy way! For some reason my links won't work. I had one of my bf's come over yesterday and she gave me an alternate way of doing it but it still irks me that it won't work the way that it should. Then last night I was going to bed and I have just changed my Internet browser over to FireFox so I decided to try viewing my new recipe page and low and behold it was a mess!!! I have one full page that is all HTML code???!!! I know that isn't how I wrote it! But when I switched it out to Explorer it looked fine. Go figure. Well, looks like I'll have plenty to do now won't I?

Anyway I had promised the girls that I would make pizza for dinner and bake them Apple Cookies. I remembered this about 5 minutes before I had to leave to meet my friend for lunch. I always make my dough in my Kitchen Aid (Shop now for the KitchenAid stand mixer that fits your unique kitchen style! The color possibilities are virtually endless!) but this time there was no time. I pulled out my bread maker and found my recipe book that came with the thing. I plopped all of the ingredients into it and hoped for the best. I left it in the hands of the dough gods...It was to do it's thing in there for about 1 and 1/2 hours. That would give me plenty of time to go for lunch and get back and pull it out. Now when I put it in I had no idea how long it would take but when I found out it was only 1 1/2 hrs I needed to figure out what to do with it until dinner time. My idea was to pull it out of the bread machine when it was finished, punch it down and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, pull it out an hour before dinner and all would be good. Was not to be though...

I went into my office and started doing some stuff and then heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen so I went out there and looked around. Nothing was out of place, it was still the same mess I had left it in. Then I heard it again...from the fridge???!!! I opened the door and the dough had burst through the wrap and was oozing around in there trying to devour containers of cream cheese, sour cream etc. We crap. I brought it back out and punched it down again and put it in a big bowl covered with plastic wrap. Held onto my earlier plan and brought it out when we got home from skating and made 2 pizza's with it. One for us with sauce and one for my fussy one with only olive oil. The crust didn't puff much but was not nearly as tough as I had though it would be. It was actually very good.

Would I do this again?
Yes, but I would add more salt and some garlic and maybe some oregano. It is was faster and less work than by hand or with my Kitchen Aid mixer so I would have to say it was a winner and now that I know how long it would take I would try and do it 1 and 1/2 hr before dinner!!!

Pizza Dough recipe (Oster User Manual & Bread Recipes)

2 pound dough ball:

All ingredients at room temperature (70 - 80 degrees)
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1-3/8 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients into the bread pan.
Select the dough setting. Allow dough to do it's thing and remove when it is finished.
Bake with toppings at 400 degrees until browned, hot and bubbly!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not Traditional Chicken Pot Pie!

Tuesday nights are kinda crazy in the Chiappini house. The children stay at school until 3:30 so my youngest one can stay for "stretch and grow". After I pick them up they have a bit of time to play and get some homework done then it's onto Karate and Ice Skating. T. takes the oldest to Karate and I take the youngest to Skating. We aren't able to get back home until about 7:30 or so. Makes dinner time kind of late. We have tried to eat before but it is just too rushed. So now we are eating after. T. gets home early than us so he usually makes dinner on Tuesday. I wasn't kidding when I said it was hectic!

Last night we had a great idea. Let's finish up the gravy and part of a rotisserie chicken that we had over the weekend. I pulled out some frozen pie crust and let that thaw all day so all he had to do when he got home was to heat the chicken with the gravy and a can of potatoes (must be some old hurricane supplies, can't imagine why I would have those???!!!) and some chopped up onion. Put it in the pie shell and topped it and egg washed it and plopped it in the oven until the pie crust was done.

Wasn't that a nice fast and easy way to use up the leftovers and make a good dinner?

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How can you not love Nachos?

Here in our house Nachos are a special treat. Not too often do we allow the girls to have chips for dinner so they get really excited when the adults want Nachos. The recipe is super easy but the results are amazing. Once again we find that it is all about the toppings! The girls are able to pick what they want and we pick what we want.

Beef Nachos


ground beef cooked with Taco Seasoning

cheddar cheese (grated)

black olives (chopped)

onion (chopped small)

fresh jalapenos (seeds and membrane removed and chopped small)

pickled jalapenos

fresh cilantro (chopped)

tomatoes (chopped)

refried beans with a small can of green chilies added (heated on the stove)

The girls usually have cheese, beans, taco meat, and olives...

but we go all out. We call them Garbage Nachos and they are delicious. So if you are ever craving something that is really not that good for you but wonderfully flavored and nice and salty then this is your beast!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers November 2007 Challenge - Tender Potato Bread

When I first started this blog back in August I really had no idea which direction it was that I wanted to go with it. I figured (as I do with the rest of my life) "that it would work itself out" As usual I was right. This blog has made me a more creative and out of the box cook and baker than I ever thought I would be! One of the things that I find so wonderful is the amount of people out there blogging about food! And then came my discovery of the challenges!!! I love food challenges...anything that takes me out of my comfort zone and I can get my hands into and please people's tummies ! But I kept seeing a badge on the people's sites that I really admired and did a bit of research found out hat it was all about and then I had to find a way to become a part of this!!! The badge was the Daring Bakers'.

Anyway, this month I performed my first challenge. I was so excited. It was hosted this month by Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups. But what a crazy month. We had so much going on here...but somehow I found time to do it (sort of). Mine turned out so not picture perfect but my plan was to try it again but alas I ran out of month!!! Before I knew it Thanksgiving was here. We have 2 at the girl's school which we had to cook for and one here for at our house for 16!

My bread turned out okay. I wish I could say great. The flavor of it was amazing...but mine was much heavier than it should have been...could it have something to do with 85 degree heat and 80% humidity? I don't know, but I would love to try this again with the conditions and timing better!

The day I choose to make it I had allotted the whole day to do it and thought I was doing good. The timing was right on schedule and everything would have been perfect except I forgot that the girls had a skating lesson and I had to go and pick them up early to get them to that. I called my husband and told him that he had to come home right away. Thinking it was an emergency he raced on home only to find that I needed him to babysit my bread that was baking in the oven!!! He was soooo not happy with me. I had also broken my baking stone a month or so ago and had not yet replaced it so I had to make this in a loaf pan. I think it would be much better without. But all in all I think, under the circumstances, the bread was great.

Would I do it again? I would love to have the time to devote to this so I think that I will put it on my list of things to try making again. I adore making bread. It is one of my favorite things to do: the feel of the dough, the texture as you knead it into what you want it to be...the most therapeutic thing I can do for myself! I bake bread for my girls all of the time (usually not such a complex recipe). We eat no store bought bread so I would consider myself to be experienced with bread but not as experienced as I would have liked to have been for this challenge!.

Tender Potato Bread

From Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid(also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)

Makes 1 large tender-crumbed pan loaf and something more; one 10X15 inch crusty yet tender foccacia, 12 soft dinner rolls, or a small pan loaf

Potatoes and potato water give this bread wonderful flavor and texture. The dough is very soft and moist and might feel a little scary if you’ve never handled soft dough before. But don’t worry: Leaving it on parchment or wax paper to proof and to bake makes it easy to handle.Once baked, the crumb is tender and airy, with ting soft pieces of potato in it and a fine flecking of whole wheat. The loaves have a fabulous crisp texture on the outside and a slightly flat-topped shape. They make great toast and tender yet strong sliced bread for sandwiches. The dinner rolls are soft and inviting, and the focaccia is memorable.I have chosen this recipe because it gives directions for different ways of shaping the dough and provides oven times and temperatures for those variations.

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold. For the beginner I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces.

4 cups water (See Note)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 cup whole wheat flour

Conversion Chart for yeast:
Fresh yeast 1 oz/ 1 tablespoon = active dry yeast 0.4 oz/ 1.25 teaspoon = 0.33 oz / 1 teaspoon
reference: Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart

4 cups water = 950 ml to cook potatoes in
from that 4 cups potato water you will need to reserve
3 cups potato water = 750 ml for mixing into the dough

6 1/2 cups to 8 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour = 1 kg to 1350 g
1 cup whole wheat flour = 130 g

Thank you to Linda of Make Life Sweeter for providing these measurements!

A very graphic picture of why I love metric now! I didn't really do the math but I don't think any 2 cups weighted the same thing.

The other thing to take note of is: whole wheat is heavier than AP.

King Arthur Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour is fairly new in the markets in the US now and is advertised to be best for making European-style hearth breads with a protein level of 11.3%

Topping For Loaves and Rolls: melted butter (optional)For Foccacia: olive oil, coarse salt, and rosemary leaves (optional; also see variation)

Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well. I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them.

Measure out 3 cups of the reserved potato water (add extra water if needed to make 3 cups).

Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread in – directions will be for by hand. Let cool to lukewarm – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.

Allowed to add yeast one of two ways:

Mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes.
Then mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix. Allow to rest several minutes.

OR Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well.

Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.

At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft.As a beginner, you may be tempted to add more flour than needed. Most/many bread recipes give a range of flour needed. This is going to be a soft dough.

At this point, add flour to the counter slowly, say a ¼ cup at a time. Do not feel you must use all of the suggested flour. When the dough is soft and smooth and not too sticky, it’s probably ready.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

It is at this point you are requested to Unleash the Daring Baker within. The following is as the recipe is written. You are now free to follow as written or push it to a new level.

Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other).

Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.

To shape the large loaf:

Butter a 9X5 inch loaf/bread pan.

Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8 inch oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed and gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled in volume.

To make a small loaf with the remainder:

Butter an 8 x 4 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.

To make rolls:

Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.

To make focaccia:

Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10 x 15 inches with your palms and fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough and dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish and then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.

Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a baking/sheet (no edge – you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet and an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C.

Bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.If making foccacia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Dust risen loaves and rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven.

Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes.

Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes.Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes.

Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans and place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched and the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Let breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.Anchovy-Onion Focaccia

Instead of oil, salt and rosemary, the focaccia can be topped with onions slow-cooked in olive oil or bacon fat, a scattering of chopped anchovy fillets, and flat-leafed parsley leaves.

Alternate fillings, seasons, shapes are up to you.

You must follow the recipe as written until you get to shaping the bread.

Allowed Modifications for Unleashing Your Daring Baker:

This bread must be savory and not sweet.

Please Knead by hand.

No biga, sponge or starter.

You may shape this dough anyway you would like.You may make this as a loaf, as rolls, as focaccia. You can braid it, twist it whatever.You may season this bread in any way you see fit: maybe it becomes your turkey stuffing. Maybe you season some sandwich bread for great turkey sandwiches.You can fill it if you think that will work for you. Think calzone or anything with a savory filling.

Again however it must be savory and not sweet.

Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.

No Pictures: I give you the recipe. I cannot give you a photo or drawing of the recipe because that part is yours. That being said there are lots of pictures of other bread recipes that will provide great ideas for you if you decide to unleash that aspect of this recipe.

Here are my results:

These are pictures of the large loaf. I cannot find the pictures of the Foccacia that I made. I am thinking maybe some little hands have been playing with my camera!!!

In Closing:

We ended up using this bread for the stuffing for the turkey that we made for the school. It was amazing. Everyone was asking what the secret to such moist, rich stuffing was! The flavor it had was incredible.

I would make this again but only when I had all the time in the world to myself. Maybe if hubby and the kids were gone for the weekend! Definitely worth the effort.

Great challenge Tanna!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now the mad dash to Christmas!!!

Well we did it...we survived Thanksgiving. It's been a busy couple of days though. We started the prep work and everything on Wednesday night and then jumped right into it first thing Thursday morning. And then spent yesterday cleaning up (and doing our bit for "Black Friday")! It was all so worth it though. Tony fried the best turkey that we have ever had and all of the side dishes and desserts were amazing as well. We went through a truck load of wine (at least that was how it seemed the next day!) but everyone had a great time and left with full tummies and tired children!

Hope yours was great as well and were able to share it with people you loved and enjoyed!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I wasn't going to do this post this morning I was going to wait until later in the day so I had some more pictures to show and less to do...right now I am suppose to be helping T. but he thinks I am cleaning up the office. Oh well, plenty of time for everything.

I just wanted to take a second to give Thanks for all all of the wonderful things in my life. I have and amazing family: An amazing husband, 2 wonderful children, 2 great dogs (a 15 year old black lab and a 11 month old golden retriever), an amazing sister and brother in law, an incredible Mother and Father and the best friends anyone could ask for. We have good health, wealth and happiness. We are so lucky to be living in this country that has so much. We are safe, comfortable and warm on cold nights and cool on warm ones, out tummies are full unless we decide not to fill them and our children have some of the best education in the World!. We live our lives in minimal discomfort and are so much more fortunate than those in other countries.

I love Thanksgiving for this reason, you are forced to stop and take a second to think about all of the things that we take for granted every single day...a light switch that turns the lights on, a toilet that flushes away our waste, a bed that is soft and comfortable and provides us with a good nights sleep, medicine to make us feel better when we aren't well, a roof over our heads to protect us from the rain and shield us from the sun. While we are being thankful for all the things that we have we need to remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we are today!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Can you say hectic?...but lots of fun!!!

Yesterday for the girl's Thanksgiving luncheon I made a new recipe. I have never really liked sweet potatoes or squash but I keep trying them. I try all sorts of different recipes but nothing has really done it for me...that is until now. I made a Sweet Potato & Apple bake that was really, really good! I really have no idea where I got the original recipe from but it has been in my recipe box for years and years. I went hunting for a Thanksgiving recipe and there it was. I did change it around quite a bit so I am not sure that the old recipe even applies but it did give me the inspiration to come up with apples and sweet potatoes together!

The dish went very quickly so the teachers didn't even get to take anything home with them! Anyway here is the recipe Sweet Potato & Apple Bake (will feed 8-10 people). I would have loved to take some pictures to show you but we wee in such a rush trying to get out the door with a Turkey (very hot turkey at that!), stuffing, sweet potato and apple bake, and gravy (we had so many requests for the gravy secret I will try and post that later today!) that I forgot my camera or to take pictures before we left!!!

Today is a day of preparation. We have 16 people coming for dinner tomorrow and what a meal is in store for them.

fried turkey
corn casserole
mashed potatoes
oyster dressing
sweet potatoes
green beans
pumpkin pie
and my now famous pumpkin muffins

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog or Bust #3

This month Blog or Bust theme hosted by The Clumsy Cook was great and very seasonally appropriate (is that a word?). Blog or Bust this time asked for us to create a “Fall” dish—pumpkin pie, chili, gratin, soup, the possibilities were almost endless. I had made Chalupa last week and thought that it would be the perfect meal to enter and...I had already made it. As my kitchen is already a mess and we have been up making turkey, gravy, stuffing and sweet potatoes since about 5:00 am I needed something that was already done!

Here is the link to the recipe: Chalupa
As Always...
Happy Entertaining!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Royal Foodie Joust

This month's Royal Foodie Joust hosted by Jenn the Left-Over Queen was another fun challenge to enter. The ingredients were picked by last month's winner and the 3 ingredients were - get this - Chocolate (any kind but white), Chilies/Chili Powder (any type) and Grains (like wheat, rice, oats, etc., in any form). I was at a total loss as to what I would do. Then inspiration came to me in the form of Haagen Dazs ice cream. Mayan Chocolate to be exact. It is a delicious blend of chocolate, more chocolate and cinnamon. So I thought why not make a cake like thing (which turned into brownies) that had chocolate, cinnamon and peppers. I wasn't all that confident that it would work but guess what? Did it ever. It turned out so well that I am going to take the left overs to the girl's Thanksgiving Luncheon for the teachers as a special treat.

Here is the recipe Chipotle & Mocha Brownies. I will be sure to let you know when the voting starts so that you can help me to win and be the person to choose next months ingredients!!!

As Always...
Happy Entertaining!!!

Here is where No Fear Entertaining works the best!!!

I have my lists and I am ready to go. We have our guests all confirmed and our menu all lined out and I have in my hands the shopping lists. I break them down by store: Costco, Publix and Paesano's (small Italian Market). First stop will be Costco! I know it may seem early to start doing this but we have to roast a turkey for the girl's school luncheon tomorrow and then the children are off of school until next week. It is waaaayyy easier for me to go to Costco and the grocery store without them!!! I also like to spend time with them when they are off so this will free me up for some fun on Wed.

Wish me luck!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

We hate Comcast!!!!...but love Thanksgiving

Well after 2 days of no Internet service we are finally back again. This week (Tuesday we hope) we will be ridding ourselves forever of the evil Comcast. Here's a bit of history...about 9 months ago we were forced to change our Internet service from Time-Warner to Comcast. We had been with Time-Warner since about 1988 so changing was pretty traumatic. Anything that we had ever signed up for had our old email addresses. Now Comcast did tell us that we would have a short grace period where our old email addresses would still be forwarded to us. Well that never f**** happened. So changing this meant changing our email addresses and everything. No small feat to be honest with you! Up til now I have still been having trouble with passwords that were with my old email address! Now due to horrible service (they will actually hang up on you) and more outages than working days we are being forced once again to make a change. I think human nature dictates that none of us like change all that much anyway but when a huge task is looming in front of you it is even worse! I ever looking forward to next week???!!!

Fortunately though there is a light at the end of that long tunnel and we have Thanksgiving next week as well. As usual I have invited a ton of people so it should be a great day! We will end up having close to 20 people for dinner. But am I afraid? No Way!!! We live for this stuff. We already have the meal all planned out. This one is a big one for us so T. usually does most of the cooking. or at least most of the prep work. I like to make it pretty! So I spend a huge amount of time just making it all look good. I always get so excited knowing that my house will be full of screaming happy children and relaxed laid back adults and then along comes the food and that is when we really shine. We will be frying a turkey once again this year. I will fill you in on the whole menu later this week.

This will prove to be a very busy week though. The children also have a Thanksgiving Luncheon in each of their classes. This year we are in charge of the turkey and stuffing for my oldest daughter's class so we already have a 20 pound turkey in our very small refrigerator thawing out! For my younger daughter's class I think I will be trying out a new recipe with baked Sweet Potatoes and Apples (I'll post this recipe once I find out how it is and what I am going to change to make it better). I would like to serve this on our Thanksgiving as we have a vegetarian and I am always looking for new recipes fro her to try!

Hope your weekend is full of friends and family!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Chalupa-Not Taco Bell

A couple of nights ago I was thinking about all of the things that I have made that we really liked. I was going through my recipe box and I came across a recipe card that said "Chalupa". I made this probably about 13 years ago and T. and I really liked it. For some reason though I only made it once! I decided that I had better break out the old crock pot and try it again. Well let me tell you, it was truly a hit. My youngest one even opted to take it to school is a thermos for her lunch today! This is not the Chalupa that was famous at Taco Bell a couple of years ago. This is real Mexican pork and beans slow cooked until the meat is falling apart. It is a type of chili without the tomato base. Regardless everyone loved it!


3 lbs Pork Roast (I used a boneless loin)
1 lb dried pinto beans
1 small can chopped green chilies
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp salt

Put everything in the crock pot and put in enough water to just cover the meat. You may need to check this later to be sure that there is enough water (the beans absorb a ton of it).
Cook on high for about 8 hours.

We served it topped with shredded cheddar cheese and hot sauce. The girls ate them in tortilla shells but we just ate ours with a spoon. So if you need a good, hearty, fast and easy, stick to your ribs meal this would be it!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday's Feast One Hundred & Sixty Nine!

Last week I started a feature that was a ton a fun. It is a fun little thing which was started about 169 Friday's ago! Friday's Feast runs every Friday you are to answer the questions which are set up like a full course meal. So sit back, grab a fork and dig right in!

What was your first “real” job?

I was a button and a badge maker for a small plastics company that my Mom worked for. I think I was about 14 but my pay went on my Mom's (now isn't that creative???) so there was no trouble with the child labor laws!!!

Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?

I am pretty lucky. I can be creative just about anywhere as long as it is outside. I can be creative on a long nature walk, hike or even just a day at the beach!

Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…

ummmm...that is so hard for me. I have pretty thick skin so it really takes a lot to embarrass me. I can't even remember that last time that I was embarrassed!!!

Main Course
What values did your parents instill in you?

My parents instilled in me and my sister incredible work ethics. There is not a job that her and I take on that we don't put our whole hearts into. They also instilled a very strong sense of fairness which has served us both well. We were very fortunate to grow up with the parents that we had. They were an incredible balance for each other.


Name 3 fads from your teenage years.

Big Hair
Tight Jeans
Neon Colored Clothing

Hope you enjoyed this Friday's Feast!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sugar High Friday #37 - The Beta Carotene Harvest

I have only been doing this blog for a short time and every day I seem to find something else that I would really like to add or do. Last week I stumble across a challenge called Sugar High Fridays. I have found that I really love participating in these challenges and they certainly are challenging me! If it weren't for these to challenge me and test what I can do I would probably have a pretty boring blog!

This month's Sugar High Friday was so much fun for me because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it! You see, every month a different blog gets to host the challenge and this months challenge is hosted by an incredibly creative and funny blog called Definitely not Martha. The theme was The Beta Carotene Harvest. Now most of the things that I cook and bake my children don't like so they will taste them but not eat them. I think by now I have given away so much food to the teachers at my girl's school that they no longer bring lunch to school but count on me to feed them!!! All joking aside I knew what I would do for this one because my kids love pumpkin bread and muffins!

I made "Not your Granny's Pumpkin Muffins" - The kids and T. helped with the name!

I made them so that they were full of the rich fall spices. Even the smell to these was amazing. It lingered in my house way longer than I expected. I wish that I could make a candle that had the scent that these muffins had - and yep...the teachers loved it as well!

The recipe ended up being really long so it is in the link above or click here !

These would make a great addition to a buffet table for Thanksgiving or as a hostess gift for the host of the dinner!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finally a recipe for the "Blue" themed party!

A couple of weeks ago (I am so late with this) one of my girlfriends got in touch with me about a baby shower that she was involved with. It was a shower for a boy so instead of going with a theme like Pooh or Noah's Ark they opt to go with a theme based around "blue" food. Isn't that a great idea? I told her that I had a recipe for some killer blue cheese bread and I would get it to her. Well the party is this weekend. I sure hope I am not too late for her!

This ones for you Lisa!!!

Blue Cheese Bread - The Chiappini Way!

You don't need to wait for a party to make this. It goes great with steak and a salad as well!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, November 12, 2007

It's a catch up day!!!

It seems like for the last couple of weeks all I have been doing is running at full speed. Sometimes into a brick wall but other times just doing regular everyday type things! Today I had planned to use the day as sort of a catch up and get myself organized type of day. Well...I don't know about you but always my best laid plans never seem to pan out quite as well as I had planned.

T. was going to take the children to school this morning so I could get right in to all of my chores today. Well I woke up to a pile of doggie doo on the floor. Our Black Lab is 15 and he is having some problems lately. Anyway I got up and went to get some paper towels to clean it up and when I went for the towels I, of course, needed to grab a new roll. We store our towels in with our hot water heater. The paper towels were soaked. I woke T. up and told him that we had several things that needed attention...RIGHT NOW!!! Poor guy. Nothing quite like being shrieked awake???!!! We got that issue all straightened out all the doggie mess all cleaned. On to the next crisis...

My oldest daughter woke up and just looked horrible. She has a bit of a cold but she just looks very sick so I knew that there was no way she was going to school. So this was challenge number 3 of the day. Just then my cell phone rang and it was my friend Lynn telling me that she would not be able to go to the school and help set up for the book fair....Crap, I had on top of everything else forgotten all about the book fair!!! My plans now need to be completely altered and on top of that I have a sick child. We all got ready and headed out to the school. T. was going to stay home and wait for the plumber to come and fix the water heater. Everything was back on track again. We all went to the school. My youngest daughter went to her classroom and I kept the oldest one with me. She laid around and read some of the books and then we came home. The plumber came and repaire te water heater and all is well again. Even being home is just craziness.

Needless to say it amazing that I have been able to get my blog even written today. I did manage to get some muffins baked. I have been trying to get an entry together for the Sugar High Friday for November. I think I may have succeeded with the recipe but now I need to ice and decorate them! I will post my entry with pictures for all to see when I finally get it done. I still have some bread baking in the oven and I need to go and pick up my youngest daughter and then go to the grocery store and figure out dinner...the list just goes on and on!!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh...What a Night!!!

Well we survived and the fog is finally starting to lift. The party was great. Kudos to Kathy and Josh. They pulled of a great party! I think we left really late and it is definitely a good thing we left when we did. Things get really fuzzy about the end and I have a bunch of pictures on my camera that I know nothing about???!!! Anybody with any ideas let me know!

The food was amazing. The caterer was great and the setting was wonderful. They have a beautiful home on the water and the party was set up around the pool. The weather was beautiful. Not too cold but cool enough to make you appreciate Florida winters! Nothing better than sharing a celebration with family and friends!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Zucchini Fritters

Happy Weekend!!!

Another busy one for us here! We took the girls to ice skating this morning...for the first time since we started taking them there I was warm!!! You may need to be reminded that we live in SW Florida and it is usually hot here. When we go to the ice rink in the morning we dress warm but we know that we always have a ton of errands to do after so I usually just wear a long sleeve top, jeans, a down vest and...Flip Flops! No wonder I have been cold. The ice rink is made of frozen water and they need to keep it like that so the air is real cold!!! Yesterday I went and bought myself a pair of wool lined slipper type things. But I was warm for the first time there ever!!!

Anyway this afternoon we are going to a party that we have been looking forward to for a long time. We are going to a 90th Birthday Party for 2 of our friends. She turned 50 and he turned 40 so they decided to combine it into one huge bash! Cool idea huh? They are having it in their beautiful home and it will be catered and I believe there is a band and everything! So exciting.

Now for the food related stuff. For dinner last night we made our quick marinated pork chops. We marinate them in Soy Sauce, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh ginger (but only because we had it on hand). We usually allow the meat to sit in the marinade for about 15 minutes. It doesn't really need much more time than that. But we also made one of my favorite side dishes. One that we don't make often enough but only because we never really think about it! We made Zucchini Fritters...Yummm!

Zucchini Fritters

4 Zucchini grated
2 eggs
3-4 Tbsp of all purpose flour (this depends on how wet the zucchini is)
1 Tbs granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp of Kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper


Mix all ingredients together. Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a skillet. We use a cast iron skillet but you can also use a non stick one. When oil is heated add the zucchini mixture by using a 1/4 cup measure scoop. Flatten the tops down a bit. Cook until golden on one side then flip and cook through on the other side.

I like mine plain but the girls like plain yogurt and sometimes ranch dressing.

Off to the party...I hope I can get some nice candid shots of the party tonight.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend as well!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday's Feast One Hundred & Sixty Eight!

A couple of days ago I was searching through a bunch of blogs and I came across a couple that had something called Friday's Feast. They were done by number and every Friday they posted diffent questions for people to answer set up like a full course meal! Well I was intrigued to say the least. I am always impressed with ideas that people come up with. I just had to get involved and try. I now this isn't really food related but it is kind fun and I think after a long week we need a little levity!

So here goes my very first Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Sixty Eight

Which snack do you like to get when you go to the movies?
-Popcorn, popcorn and more popcorn. If I still run out before the movie is over I willget more popcorn...can you tell I like movie theatre popcorn?

What year did you start using the internet?

I think it was in 1998...we were the cool ones who had it before all of our friends! Didn't have a clue as to what to do with it but that phone dial up sound was even cool...TG for DSL.

What is your first name in Pig Latin? (Here’s how to speak it if you don’t already know!)


Main Course
Name something you are picky about.

My blankets on my bed. My bed has to be just so when I climb into it. I have thought about getting seperate beds for my husband and I because he is always messing them up on me...LOL

Fill in the blanks: I ____ ____ yesterday and I ____ ____ today.

I loved my life yesterday and I love my life today.

Have a great day everyone and I hope youhave enjoyed my first Friday's Feast!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

You Have Got to Love Target!!!

I have been feeling quite lazy today...granted I did go out last night and probably had about 1 or 2 too many Stoli's but it wasn't like I was out late or anything! Thanks again my friend! Anyway instead of doing the laundry, cleaning up the house, writing my blog or any of the other 20 or 30 things that I should have been doing this morning I decided to go to Target. I needed to get a couple of things. Now the thing with me and Target is that I can never walk out of there without spending over $50. Even if I have been there once already that day! I therefore need to limit myslef on how many times I go there. I haven't been in a while so I thought I was safe. Anyway I got to the checkout aisle and what do ya know...$65.65. Granted I did get all the stuff that I have been needing for a while (pizza stone, fancy cooling rack, food scale etc.). I guess you get my drift. It is a hard place to escape from with only the essenials. I also bought the girls some more winter clothes so now I really do have to do the laundry.

It really is starting to feel like winter now...and this is so funny to those of you who live up north! Last night it was in the mid 50's and we had to close the windows because we were too cold. Currently the temperature is 70 degrees which is still really cool for us here!

Now onto someting food related. I have to take my oldest daughter to Karate tonight so Tony will be making dinner. I think with the cool weather being here we are all wanting some comfort food. He is going to make meatloaf for dinner. There is no way that I will be able to talk him into taking pictures while I am gone but I bet I can get him to give up the recipe! That will be in tomorrows post! So check back tomorrow.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm Baaack!!!

A couple of days with only sporadic internet and I thought was losing my mind!!! I think that Comcast finally has their problem fixed but it sure was annoying! I have been using the time to get organized and caught up on a bunch of other things that I have been working on so all in all it was a good thing.

My newsletter should be going out tomorrow...yes I know it is a little late but one of my friends told me that as long as it was out before November ended it was still November's newsletter!

I also just found out this morning that my recipe for the Wild Mushroom Spread came in tied for 3rd place in the "Royal Foodie Joust" at the Left Over Queen so that was pretty exciting seeing as that was the first challenge I have been involved in. Thanks so much to those of you who voted!!!

Last night for dinner we had lamb chops. Now generally I have a problem eating lamb and veal (you know...the whole cute and cuddly thing etc.) but I have come to realize that lamb is probably one of the healthiest meats for you and we have made a conscious effort to try to feed the family the healthiest options that are out their. That being said it was very good. We simply marinated the rack of lamb chops in a light marinade of soy sauce, minced garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper. I know there are no measurements but with a marinade it is not critical to have everything measured out. You should start with you base being soy sauce but from there you can go heavy on what you like and lightly on what you don't.

Marinade it for about 20 minutes and cook on the grill. You want the lamb to be cooked to medium rare or an internal temperature of about 145 degrees.

We served it will grilled zucchini and a salad it was a nice quick weeknight dinner.

Lamb Chop Marinade

Tonight is pizza night again!!! Something that everyone loves and is easy and quick to make!!!

As Always...

Happy Enteraining!!!


Monday, November 5, 2007

D*#@?!! Internet Connection!!!

Finally after fighting with intermittent internet connection all day it seems to be up and running. I am going to make this short and sweet though as I don't know how long it is going to be up for.

Last night for dinner we made Eggplant Parmesan. Was it ever delicious. My oldest daughter refuses to eat anything that has red sauce (spaghetti sauce, gravy or whatever your family calls it) so we have to be a little inventive. She is not a fussy eater but really doesn't like tomatoes! We made hers on he side without the sauce but it still had the goat cheese on it. She loved it as well!

My connection is slipping so here is the recipe

Eggplant Parmesan - The Chiappini Way

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

She was surprised!!!

In regards to my last post where we thought for sure that we had spoiled a surprise party for one of my girlfriends who had just graduated from Grad school...we didn't ruin the surprise!!! She was so happy and surprised. Her husband threw together a great party. Lots of really good food, tons to drink. Nothing was overlooked. I was so proud of him! He kept it nice and casual, children running all around, He even made sure that he did it while her parents were in town visiting from Iowa.

What a great night!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Never tell us that it's a secret!!!

We got an invite last night to a surprise happy hour for one of our friends. She has just graduated from grad school and her husband wanted to surprise her with a small party in her honor...Congrats Shell!!! She did all of this part time from home with 2 little babies. Very impressive feat! This is all well and good, but along we come and maybe, we sure hope not, give away the surprise.

It has been a really busy couple of days. I attended a fundraiser last night at a model home in our area. It was to benefit our local chapter of the ABWA. It was a really nice night out.

This morning we got up early and made the girls some French Toast from some leftover homemade bread and then went on the skating rink. After skating we had to go shopping to get a birthday present for another of our friend's little boys b-day party which was this afternoon and a gift for our graduate friend. So we tell the girls that we have a really busy day and they need to try to behave for us. Of course they asked us what we were doing today and not thinking we told them. They were pretty excited to be going to 2 parties in one day!!! This is where it all started to go down hill. It suddenly occurred to me that my graduate friend would be at the birthday party earlier in the afternoon. Now I am a little sleep deprived right's been a long week what with Halloween and all of the other things that we have going on so my judgement may be a little off...I actually told my 5 year old that the happy hour party was a surprise!!! What a fool am I??? You tell a 5 year old that she has to keep a secret from her 5 year old friend and you are just setting her up for failure!!! Not 5 minutes after they saw each other did I see my little one whispering to her little friend. What the H*#@ was I suppose to do then? I decide that to say anything else would just be a huge disaster so I just let it go. I guess we will find out in about an hour how much damage we cause!!!

Whatever you do don't tell us a secret!!!

Hope you are having a great weekend and sharing it with your friends or family!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, November 2, 2007

Wild Mushroom Spread

Last month when I held my Partylite party I served a spread with baked pita chips that everyone went nuts for. So it was really a no brainer when I saw that the ingredients for the monthly "Royal Foodie Joust" at The Left-Over Queen's site were mushrooms, cheese and herbs. I submitted the recipe last week and the voting starts today and will go on for the next 5 days! I am so excited about this. If you would like to go on The Left-Over Queen and vote for my entry that would be so great. You could also get my recipe and other great recipes as well!

Wild Mushroom Spread

Well off to another fundraiser tonight...will post all the details tomorrow!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, November 1, 2007

I am so scattered today...

I was just saying to my husband that I am so scattered today, with my hands in way too many pots that I can't even figure out what to blog about (I have so much to tell) and you know what he said (very distractedly I might add)..."Blog about that then". Thanks T. Also I should add my thanks to Starbuck's as I am jacked up on caffeine due to a very large Pumpkin Spice Latte!!! So here you have it!

Last night I wanted to send the girls out Trick or Treating with nice full stomachs and I have so many wonderful recipes that I want to try but very limited time to try them in so I went to my folder of "loose recipes" and choose one that I had all of the ingredients for already and started cooking...

I found this recipe on The Left-Over Queen's site. I will post more about her site tomorrow when I tell you all about the Royal Foodie Joust which you will need to go on to vote for my entry in the monthly contest!

Mushroom and Yogurt Tart


2 containers of Crimini (Baby Bella) mushrooms, sliced
½ yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 TBS olive oil for sautéing
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ tsp nutmeg
freshly grated pepper
1 handful of fresh spinach
5 pieces of phyllo dough
olive oil for brushing
¼ cup mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large skillet heat 1 TBS olive oil and add sliced mushroom, onion and garlic. In the meantime, take phyllo dough and fill a tart pan, making sure to brush each layer with olive oil or butter. Blind bake the tart dough for about 5 minutes. Add yogurt, nutmeg and pepper to the mushrooms in the skillet and mix together (yogurt will melt). Add the spinach and cook until just beginning to wilt, then remove from the heat. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the tart and bake for another 15 minutes or until phyllo is golden and crispy. Top with mozzarella cheese and cook for another 2 minutes of until melted and golden brown.

This recipe was truly remarkable. I had never made anything using Phyllo Dough before because I was a little intimidated by it but this recipe made it really easy to work with!

I am also working very hard on my November Newsletter...yes I know it is technically late but there are 30 days in November and one of my friends pointed out to me that as long as I get it out before the month changes I am doing good!!! My goal is much better than that but WOW! is this a busy month for me!!!

On another topic altogether:

I know that you have all heard me rave about the vitamins that we take from Dr. Vince. I tell everyone about these at every opportunity that I get. These have improved the quality of my life in ways that I can't even describe but because of the coffee from earlier I am going to try...

Just over 3 years ago we were involved in a pretty serious car accident. I was taken from the scene by ambulance (was treated and released) T. stayed with the girls, who miraculously as it seems had nothing at all happen to them!!! T. and I are both still treating with Dr.'s and everything else that you can imagine from this accident. I have severe nerve damage in my neck with requires a really gross procedure (which I won't go into here) about every 3-6 months and T. had surgery to fuse 3 vertebrae in his neck just this past April. Despite all of this our lives are still incredibly normal. We do massage therapy, acupuncture, Reiki, and chiropractic treatments. About a year ago T. met Dr Vince at a seminar that they were both attending. T. came back full of hope and promise about these vitamins and supplements. I have always taken a multivitamin but not too much beyond that. I went along with the program because I trust what he says and really thought that it would't hurt anything to try it. After a year he has talked me into multivitamins, Fish Oil, Co-Enzyme Q-10, Whey Protein and Mega Magnesium. I feel better than I have since I was in my early 20's. It has really taken me by surprise. My neck started bothering me pretty bad a couple of weeks ago so I went to my Pain Management Specialist to schedule my procedure. I was absolutely SHOCKED when he told me that it had been 8 months since my last treatment!!! I truly believe that I can credit the improvement to Dr. Vince and his products.

Check his site out if you are at all interested in improving your life, energy and health!!!

Sorry for my crazy ramblings but there is a reason I stopped drinking caffeine a while ago!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!