Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ever started making a meal and knew you were doomed at the start?

I have many times and tonight was one of those times. I spent the afternoon at a park with the girl's and a friend of ours and her children. It was hot (85 but I really hate to complain) and it is December! I left my Mom at home so she could putz around and be alone in the house for a change. Sadly my sister, her husband and the 2 dogs left today...I hate when she leaves! But on a plus side my Mom got my tree taken down and all of the ornaments and lights all put away...thanks a million Mom!!! But now I had to get started on dinner.

Anyway on with my tale of woe. I had planned on trying Paula Deen's recipe called Paula's Baked Ham and Cheese Chicken. I had the chicken breasts out and then I read the recipe. I was missing some of the stuff but I thought I could just muddle my way through. I ran out of Parmesan cheese but I also had decided that instead of the bread crumbs with Greek Seasoning I was going to use Italian seasoned crumbs with Romano Cheese instead. I also didn't have any sliced ham. Here's a no brainer...I had Prosciutto Ham and Honey Baked Ham. Which would you have used? I use about $15 worth of finely shaved prosciutto and you can bet that really ticked T. off!!! Oh yeah and I didn't have any fresh parsley. I guess going into any new recipe with only half of the called for ingredients might doom you!

Now the recipe also called for you to cook the chicken after the flour, egg wash and breading in olive oil on medium high heat. Now you half to remember I was at the park for about 2 hours today baking my brain. I put the skillet on medium high heat and let that olive oil heat on up. I put 2 of the breast in the pan and realized that even though I had used the biggest skillet that I had there was no way that I was going to be able to fit all of these mammoth chicken breasts. How could I have not noticed how incredibly freakin' huge these things were???!!! I quickly heated up another skillet with more olive oil on medium high heat. By the way in case you haven't gotten it already, medium high is way to high to cook these great, big, humongous chicken breasts!!!

The chicken was getting really nice and dark on the outside but there is no way it could have been cooked in the middle but without really thinking it through I guess I kind of figured that it would cook in the oven that I should have preheated...but to what temperature I then realized. The cursed recipe didn't call for a temp.??? I put it on 350 and figured that slow and steady might just work. I topped the now very darkly browned chicken breasts with the proscuitto and the mozzarella cheese and shoved it in. Well it was starting to cook real nice the top was starting to nicely brown but I thought I had better temp. them. The things were only to a low 120!!! Popped them out of the oven and into the microwave. Yes, that was the worst possible thing that I could have done to these things. Anyway did we eat them? Oh yeah. I was really hungry and so were the girls. T. nibbled at it and my Mom only ate the chicken not the chewy burnt crap on top...yes you remember the $15 worth of prosciutto on top!

Would I try this again? I would because the flavor was really good and despite what I did to them the chicken still stayed nice and moist. I might try having most of the ingredients on hand when I start this next time though!

Where are the pictures? Not this one guys. It really looked bad by the time it hit the table!!! On the recipe link above there is a picture of what it is suppose to look like.

To end the meal from He** we were going to finish off the apple pie from Christmas Day...guess again. It was moldy. Should that have surprised me?

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, December 28, 2007


We have been so busy and I think that this has been the longest time between posts for me since I started this blog back in August. The holidays have just been so wonderful that I wanted to stay in every moment and not stop and write about it! Does that make any sense? I am very much and in the moment person I guess. We don't even own a video camera because my theory on it is that I would miss too much of what was going on because I would be trying to tape it all for the future???!!! Never made a while lot of sense to me! Anyway we have been out having a ton of fun.
The girls got Roller Blades from Santa this year and wow do they ever like them. My oldest daughter has hardly taken them off of her feet but to bathe and sleep! We did get them off of her long enough one day to go ice skating with their Uncle Lee. This was a real treat because T and I can't skate with them due to our neck injuries so they got to hangout with someone on the ice!

Last night though was one of the best. About a month ago I made reservations for the 5 of us (T., me, my sister, her husband and my Mom) to go to Truluck's for dinner. Now this has become one of our favourite special occasion restaurants. I am not going to do a full review on it but the service is amazing, food is awesome (does anyone use that word anymore???) and the location is magical! We hired a babysitter and all piled into T. big, honkin truck and made the journey to Naples. Worth every minute of the hour long drive! My Mom seemed to especially enjoy it maybe because while living by herself she has so many meals alone or because it was a huge splurge for all of us...whatever the reason it was great for all of us to be together enjoying another great meal!
This was the entree that we had (mom, sister and me!) Blue crab stuffed snapper on a bed of crab fried rice!

This was one of 4 desserts that we ordered. This was the creme brulee. I have never seen such a big one so we just had to have it. Along with Chocolate Fudge cake, the best carrot cake ever and a bowl of fresh berries with whipped cream!

Today is my sister and her husbands last day...they are leaving tomorrow morning to head back to the snowy tundra of Canada, back to work, back to peace and quiet (my house is so not quiet at the best of times but imagine it with 2 children, 4 dogs and 5 adults!!!), still they will miss us all.

Hope everyone is enjoying their holidays as well!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Well we made it this far...we are in the home stretch!!! The above picture is of my youngest daughter flying into the arms of my sister who drove all the way from Toronto (about 1600 miles with her husband and 2 dogs) to surprise the girls!!! I thought it was a really cool shot.

We always do an adult celebration on Christmas Eve which usually turns into a wrapping party but this year we were smart and wrapped everything earlier in the day so we could just hang out and enjoy each other and share some really good food!

The food was mainly bought at a gourmet market that opened just this year called The Sandy Butler. Really incredible cheeses and great parma ham!This is a huge plateful of Fresh Florida Shrimp steamed in Old Bay seasoning!

For breakfast this morning I made Baked Apple French Toast. This turned out to be incredible and the best part was that it was made last night and popped into the oven and baked while we all opened presents! I had made a similar dish to this a couple of years ago and it was terrible but this one was excellent!
Hope your holiday is as wonderful as ours is proving to be! Off to Starbuck's...they need the tips on Christmas Day too!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Am A Daring Baker...I made a Yule Log!!!

The Daring Bakers challenge for December 2007 was hosted this month by Ivonne & Lisa. Thanks so much for such a great seasonal choice!
I can proudly proclaim this and feel it this month. I am a Draing Baker!!! With all of the other crazy things that I had to do...8 gift baskets, 9 gift boxes, Christmas shopping, husband out of town and volunteering in the girl's Holiday Shop at school I was still able to get this challenge done!!! I am so proud of myself for doing this (yes...the girls were without clean clothes and I had no underwear left when my Mom got here at the beginning of last week). If you ever get the chance to do this please try it. It is spectacular! I was a little dissappointed with the mushrooms that I had to make. I had the choice between marzipan mushrooms and meringue mushrooms. Living here in South Florida I knew I had to stay away from the meringue what with all of the heat and the humidity but the marzipan didn't hold up so well for me either! I kind of melted and drooped even in the fridge. The log itself though was amazing and had a huge amount of WOW factor!!!

Would I try this again?: I think that I would but I would be sure to brush the genoise with a liqueur (maybe Kahlua or something) as I rolled it. I found it a little dry and I think that would have fixed that problem.

Here is the recipe and the rules we had to follow:

The December 2007 DB Challenge: Yule Log

Sources: Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert
Serves 12
Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated

What Is Required

• A genoise cake (using the recipe below)
• A coffee buttercream frosting (using the recipe below)(Note: For those of you that have an aversion to coffee, you can use another flavour for your buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. We don't want any white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!)
• Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms (using the recipes below)

What You are Free to Do

- Your genoise must be made using the recipe provided; however, it can be flavoured however you wish. Make it chocolate, add nuts, douse it in liquor, throw in some citrus or just leave it plain. It’s entirely up to you how you flavour it. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.) I made my genoise chocolate.

- While the outside of your Yule Log must be frosted with the coffee buttercream using the recipe provided here, you are free to fill the recipe however you choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of your choice. You have complete freedom when it comes to the FILLING. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.) I filled it with the buttercream.

- At the very least, besides the coffee buttercream, you must decorate your log with mushrooms. We have provided a recipe for meringue mushrooms and marzipan mushrooms. You can choose one or the other or you can try both. But you must try at least one type of mushroom. I choose to do the marzipan mushrooms.

- You have complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate your logs however you wish.

- You have complete freedom to make your logs in whatever shape you like (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)

Note: If you are not going to use the coffee buttercream to fill your log, be sure to have the filling ready once the genoise comes out of the oven. If you do fill your Yule Log with fruit or with soemthing other than buttercream, please note that you may not be able to freeze the Log because the filling may not last.

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Filling and frosting the log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

***Special thanks goes to my family this month so that I could do this while they suffered through no clean laundry and a very, very messy kitchen!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Does Cranberry Bark count as cooking?

I was really strapped for time and needed to come up with a baked something or other to place inside the little boxes that I had for the teachers that taught my children. I had already made the pretzels with chocolate and M&M's and I needed to come up with something quick. I was pacing through the aisles at Publix when it came to me. Bark!

I really dislike white chocolate though so I had to come up with some milk or dark chocolate. I have had major chocolate disasters before so this was kind of scaring me...I think that Florida heat and humidity do no favors at all for the chocolate dipped items. As I was wandering I happened upon some Ghirardelli Chocolate and I just had to commit!


1 c. sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. dried cranberries

  • In a large heavy skillet cook the sugar over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it is melted (about 15 minutes). Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla, stirring the mixture until the chocolate is melted.
  • Stir in the 1 cup of the cranberries and pour the mixture immediately onto a buttered baking sheet, spreading mixture evenly with a buttered spatula. Add the 1/4 cup of remaining cranberries by sprinkling on top. Let the cranberry bark cool and break it into pieces. Store in airtight container lined with wax paper, separating the layers with wax paper.
This recipe worked very well for me with the humidity and all here. I gave this to the assistant teachers, Spanish teachers and the music teacher along with the chocolate M&M pretzels that we made. All were happy!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Royal Foodie Joust

Well I have to say that this has probably been one of the toughest challenges that I have done so far. I have been trying to participate in as many challenges as was humanly possible this time of the year. The Royal Foodie Joust is one of my favorites! It is hosted each month By Jenn-The Left-Over Queen. I think this is my 3rd Joust and I am not sure if it was the season or the ingredients but this took me forever to do! The ingredients this month were chosen by Emiline and boy were they tough. I had to make something that had Pomegranate, Mint and Pistachios???!!! I had no clue as to what I was gong to do...then it came to me. I could make brownies out of this one!!! I have an ongoing, long time love affair with brownies. I can honestly say that that is the one food that I have eaten over and over and never really tasted a bad one. Think about it. It is the perfect marriage of rich chocolaty fudge like cake. Anyway enough about brownies and onto the recipe.

These turned out way better than I ever could have even imagined and I will most definitely make these again! Probably one of my favorite recipes now!!!

Mint Pomegranate Brownies

Hope you all enjoy! I will be back asking for your votes come the first of the year!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's a food blogger to do???....

What is a food blogger to do when they cannot write a post on any recipe of anything that they have cooked or baked in the last week? Maybe no longer call themselves a food blogger? Okay, maybe I am being a little bit hard on myself and it is the holiday season and all! Last night we had pizza and tonight it is Costco's Rotisserie Chicken. I almost can't wait to have another home cooked meal. I have a new recipe to try. It's Paula Deen's Baked Ham and Cheese Chicken. I can't wait to find the time to try this but alas it will have to wait as does everything else right now!

I have been so incredibly busy. The girls have their Holiday Shop at the school all this week and once again we are short volunteers so I was there all day Friday, Monday and Tuesday. My Mom just flew in for the holidays (Thank you Mom!) so I realized that I had really run out of time. I had not even started my shopping until today. I think though now I am under control. I got all of my cards sent off and all of the little things taken care of. I ordered our fresh Turkey to fry once again and my Honey baked Ham (The girl's school does a fund raiser every year so I almost have to have one and everyone does loves them!). I had also run out of Mom is doing my laundry as I write this. Don't we just love our Moms!!!

For Christmas this year my sister and her husband ( and 2 dogs) are making the long journey from Toronto by car. They expect the trip to take them 2 days (stopping over night) but it will be so worth it. We have not all been together for Christmas in about 6 years. The girls don't know that they are coming so it will be a total surprise for them!

I have at least gotten my Christmas Scent Pot going. This is a tradition is our home and something that we have done every year for the last 15 years. It is simply a pot of water on the stove with slices of orange, lemon, and lime, a small handful of cloves, some star anise, allspice and cinnamon sticks. I keep this on simmer on my stove throughout the holidays. Everyone who walks into my house is treated the the wonderful smells of Christmas!

I hope your holiday preparations are well underway!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Bloggers Unite - Acts of Kindness

Well December 17th has arrived and its time for my Bloggers Unite Act of Kindness post. This is a blogging event to try and affect as many people on one day as can be possible by each person doing just one simple, random act of kindness. I am sure we all remember the movie Pass it Forward. I try on a daily basis to try and make things better either by volunteering whenever I can, arranging food drives, helping neighbors or any one in need but this is something different.

We live a very blessed life. My children are in private school, we live in a very nice neighborhood, we have food 3 times a day or more, my children and I need or want for nothing. But we also know that things are not as good for everyone else. Today I would like to think that I made a small difference in someone's life...maybe not a huge monetary difference but to help and restore someone's faith in humankind as a whole.

I went through the toll booth today entering into or city and seeing as I have a transponder my tolls are paid by credit card. We also have toll booths that if you do not have a transponder you need to go through to pay your $2 toll. Now, to me $2 is not a huge amount but to some people it unfortunately is. I handed the toll booth operator $20 and asked her to let the next people through and that their tolls could be paid from that and to so this until the $20 is gone. I left and asked her to wish everyone a great day for me. I hope that the people that went through the booth after me will have some of their faith in humankind restored.

We are all so crazy, busy in our every day lives and I think that an event like this is amazing in the fact that it made me slow down and really consider what I was going to do. I spent the day at my children's school volunteering in the Holiday Shop, I have also arranged the second food drive this year to help benefit our local Soup Kitchen, I volunteer for the Leukemia Society and try to be a good, kind person everyday of the year but none of this was enough for this event. I wanted to touch people that I wouldn't come into contact on a day to day basis. I really, truly hope that it worked!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just a bit different from most...

Our Christmas preparations take on a bit of a different note here in Southwest Florida. The picture is of my husband trying to put up our Christmas lights. I almost hate to complain about this but it is December and it was so hot (86 degrees) and sunny. He got sun burnt???!!! At least in the picture he was smiling (and you can't hear all of the curse words on camera). This is the one thing that he really hates to do...I actually have him talked into hiring someone to do it next year!!! Crazy stuff here! Anyway today it is suppose to really cool down tonight and go into the low 40's. It will make for a nice boat parade tonight! We should be able to pull out our fuzzy sweaters for a day or so.

We went to a great Christmas party last night that my friend hosts every year. She does such an amazing job with it. There is truly something for everyone and no one is over looked. She gets her food from all over the place so that there is something that would appeal to everyone. Honey baked ham, turkey and sides, Chick-fil-A for the chicken nuggets, publix for sushi and crab platter, edible fruit arrangements, and very, very pretty desserts (the strawberry shortcake from Jason's Deli was outstanding!)! The girls loved the cupcakes that were in festive holiday colors. She also did a raffle for a Wii...we didn't win but the money that was raised was going to be donated to a favorite charity of the winners. Very cool idea. The kids bounced around all afternoon in the biggest bounce house I have ever seen as well!

Anyway today is another busy day. We are going to the skating rink to see the Christmas Performance on Ice. The girls are really looking forward to that and then this evening is the boat parade. People decorate their boats and then do a parade through the helps to get you in the holiday spirit in warm weather!

Hope your weekend is full of family fun as well!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday's Feast #172

As you know I have been doing the Friday's Feast now for about a month. I love this. It is something totally different from what I blog about and think about all day long. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy!!!

Make up a word and give us its definition.

Beautilicious - Beautiful and Delicious all at the same time

What is currently your favorite song?

Fergie - Clumsy

What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?


Main Course
Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.

Lavender and Fostex soap will always remind me of my Mom

Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?

Katie Couric - It is unfortunate and I hate to say this about anyone but she really isn't that bright is she? I know she has come a long way and all and she has carved a pretty nice trail for women but still she does say the dumbest things and her interviews are just sad. I think they have just promoted her to her demise.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

OMG...look at my kitchen!

'Tis the season for a messy kitchen I guess. This is how my kitchen has looked everyday for about the last week. When I haven't been out shopping or picking up packages that I had left behind this is what I am doing. I have 5 hours during the day that is all mine (yeah right- that is after I clean up from breakfast and tidy up the girl's rooms, grab a shower, walk the dogs, run any errands that we need ran and squeeze in some writing or a quick ride on the stationary bike LOL) and this is the mess I like to do it in!

Today I am trying to get some more of the Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies made so I can add them to a basket that I will be taking to a party that we are going to on Saturday night. I would like to get some M & M pretzels all done today as well as bake some peanut butter cookies topped with green and red sugar. They look very festive and also freeze very well. I will post pictures and recipe for those tomorrow or over the weekend!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One of those days...ummm weeks!!!

I guess it is all the holiday excitement that is buzzing around but boy oh boy am I ever flaky right now. In the past week I have made 2 purchases that I have left behind at the stores, gotten lost going to places that I know and made major scheduling mistakes!!! Oh well let's hope next week is better. My Mom flies in on Tuesday so I'm sure it will be!

Anyway, onto dinner last night. Tuesday night is the crazy night in the Chiappini house. Karate and Skating in opposite directions. T. does Karate and I go skating. We always have to have a dinner plan on Tuesday night. Last night it was steak. A nice, easy, quick marinade and then onto the grill and then to the plates. Served alongside a salad it makes a really great dinner!

Marinated Flap (or Flank) Steak

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Sister's Favorite Cookies!

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies...A family favorite!!!

My sister's visit has come and gone but at least I have her favorite cookie recipe now! When she was here she was raving about this cookie that she loved and how wonderful it tasted...I just had to get that recipe!!! We searched the Internet and there was always something missing in the recipes. When she got home she sent me the well as pictures of the deer that were in her snowing back yard! She lives in the Greater Toronto Area and deer are not that common there so we were all pretty excited.

Anyway back to the cookies (do I ever get off track easily!). I made my first batch of Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies - Or "My Sister's Favorite Cookies". She was right they are really good! I also love the festive color that the red from the cranberries lend to the season! Will I make these again...Oh yeah!!!

Even my non-cranberry loving husband loved them!

I entered these cookies in a cookie contest that is being hosted by Susan at Follow the link to find more great cookie recipes just in time for your holiday baking!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

What have I been up to???

Yes, sister was here but is now gone. My Mom will be coming in for the holiday the beginning of next week. But I need to get moving...NOW!!! I have started making some of the treats for the girl's teachers. We started that yesterday. Very cute and simple. The girls are finally able to help me with something so they are pretty excited too!

I have also in the past week become a featured publisher for the new and very cool food website, Foodbuzz. You can see all my posts as well as other blogs, such as Café Fernando, and The Clumsy Cook featured there!

One more bit of news is that I just recently found out that one of my posts from the beginning of December was published by Reuters! This was pretty exciting for me and I sent a link out to a bunch of people just to show off...It's not everyday that you get published in Reuters. To see the post click here!

On another note don't forget to purchase a phone call or a letter from Santa this year. This is one of the best gifts your child can get. With so little magic left in our lives this is one tradition that I so want to hold onto!!! Order a Letter From Santa. You can order today and choose a future mailing date. This is truly so cool. I bought mine for the girls this morning and am so excited!!! I set the date for the call to happen when my Mom was here so she will be able to see there faces as well!

Today is a day of baking. I have to test out a couple of cookies recipes to see if they are the ones I want to use or if I should just stick with my old faithfuls! If I find a new one that is really good be sure to look here for the post!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, December 9, 2007


Well my sister is gone. What a great time I had with her. There is nothing in the whole world like a great relationship with your sister. This is someone that knows everything that made you who you are. They know all of your secrets and almost never hold them against you (LOL). You have been through almost everything with them along side. It is way better than a best friend that you share everything with. Your sister you don't even have to share...they just sort of know! I sure hope that my 2 girls appreciate what they have but unfortunately it probably won't be until they are much, much older!

Anyway, one day while she was here we decided to try a recipe that her and her husband had tried and loved. It was really easy and something the kids would eat as well! It would all have been perfect but for the fact that I had gotten the girls their flu shots earlier in the day and they were not reacting well to them. My oldest one actually ran a fever for about 12 hrs and my younger one just went a little wild with it. Very strange but worth while in the long run!

Okay on with the food. It turned out wonderfully and we had plenty of extras. I may even make a half recipe next time in a smaller casserole dish and all. The recipe was from the October issue of InStyle Magazine and surprisingly simple.

Go ahead and give it a shot during the incredibly hectic next couple of weeks! The recipe as is will feed a crowd.

Baked Pasta with Sausage

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday's Feast #171

It's Friday so guess what I am blogging today? You guessed it. This is the Feast for today...Grab a cup of hot coffee and enjoy!

Friday's Feast

What was the last game you purchased?

The last game I bought was Monopoly Jr. Take my word for it, it is way, way better than having to play Candy Land any day!!!

Name something in which you don’t believe.

I don't believe in negativity, meanness, sadness and hate!

If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?

I think I would pick Oprah. She has access to soooo much and does so many good things. I would like to be surrounded with that in my life! Unfortunately I couldn't even tell you the last time I watched her!

Main Course
What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Patience and it is still an ongoing lesson in the "school of hard knocks"!

Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.

A room colored in greens and beige's, lot's of places to lay down and read, soothing water sounds, gentle lighting (dim but enough to read)...can you tell I am really missing reading right now????

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lunch at Rumrunner's

Life has been pretty exciting on the food front...but not because I have been making a ton of things. We have not been home hardly at all. We have enjoyed many meals out though!

Yesterday my sister and I met another girlfriend and we went to lunch at Rumrunners which is a beautiful waterfront restaurant just down the road from us. The salad was delicious! I managed to snap a few pics before anyone really noticed! If you are ever in this area this restaurant is a must try. The atmosphere and the food are really amazing! For my lunch I had one of their specials-blackened bass served over their bistro salad!! Yummm...

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pizza Margherita

Last night I made Pizza Margherita for all of us. The kids didn't like it at all. I guess too many flavors for them. But T. and my sister sure did. We make our pizza's in a baking sheet and we polished it off along with 2 bottles of Chianti! Not a bad night huh?

Click here for the recipe!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pizza Night Again!

Tonight is pizza night again! I am making the dough in the bread machine but this time I am going to be able to do it right. After 1 hour and 30 minutes we will be able to make it into pizza instead of wrapping it and putting it in the fridge. For us adults I am going to make Pizza Margherita and will post the recipe with pictures tomorrow! For the kids it will be one pizza 1/2 with sauce and cheese and the other 1/2 just with olive oil and cheese.

We needed to have an easy night after 2 full days of non-stop shopping. My sister and I don't get to see each other often enough so for us to spend time shopping and bonding is the best! I have bought shoes, jeans, makeup, t-shirts, belts and books. We also had a great lunch today at Bice Grand Cafe in Estero. It was real simple with a couple of drinks but with the weather being so cool and beautiful we were able to sit outside and enjoy the lovely weather. Yes...we do feel bad for anyone who is living up North and dealing with the horribly cold weather! We wish you all could be here with us enjoying our weather!!!

Don't forget to vote for me at the Royal Foodie Joust at The Left-Over Queen's forum. Also look for pics and the Pizza Margherita recipe.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, December 3, 2007

The Royal Foodie Joust!

The Royal Foodie Joust for this month has closed and I need your votes. Remember back in November the entry I did for the Chipotle & Mocha Brownies? Well that was for the Royal Foodie Joust which is hosted by Jenn - The Left-Over Queen. Now is the time for you to step up and help me win. Just sign in at The Royal Foodie Joust and vote for me!!!

Also this month's newsletter is in the works and it promises to be a good one! I am going to focus on feeding your family or a large crowd Christmas morning and how to make it as easy on you as it can be! If you haven't already signed up to receive it, there is still time before I send it out. You can sign up in the form at the top of this page.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, December 2, 2007

What a wonderful and amazing weekend!

I am so blessed to have a family that is so wonderful and friends that are so great!

My sister flew in on Friday night and we have been going hard since then. I picked her up from the airport and we decided that we would go out for a couple of drinks and some food before she entered my crazy house for the week (she lives in a very quiet house with only her husband and a great, floppy chocolate lab). We decide that we would go to The Joint which is right down the street from us.

The next morning the poor thing woke to a very loud house and we raced around and got ready to go for the skating lessons. In the afternoon we went shopping. T. had a meeting in the afternoon and my sister and I had plans to go to a surprise party for a friend of mine. T. was running real late so I decided that I would make dinner for the girls. Now, who really wants to make a major meal for 2 little girls??? I made pancakes for them. At the last minute I decide to throw in some still frozen mixed berries...what a mess that was. I guess I needed to take a bit of time and thaw them??? They were in clumps in the batter. Regardless I cooked them up and T. called just as I was finishing and said that he had dinner plans for the girls???!!! Oh least we had a great breakfast today!

The surprise party last night was great and Wendy was plenty surprised and we all had a great night out without the kids!

Today we got up and decided that since we had a Canadian visitor amongst us that we just had to have a beach day! Now you have to understand something about south Florida...that water is very, very cold to us this time of year so we generally stay away for the beach unless, of course, we have visitors. It was really a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue and the water was clear as clear could be. My sister loved it and so did we. It really makes us realize how good we have it here especially since most places up north are under about a foot of newly fallen snow!!!

Tonight was a quick dinner out and then back to our regular lives tomorrow! Children off to school and my sister and I off to the malls!!! We have waited all weekend for the girls to be back in school so that we can go and do what we love best...SHOPPING!!! I am even setting up a special visit for us to J Crew. My salesman there is going to set up a personal shopping trip for us complete with wine! Life is soooo good!

Hope you all had a great weekend.

As always...

Happy Entertaining!!!