Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It's a busy day in our house. trying to get 2 children dressed for school in costumes, having back up clothes, homework from the night before, and snacks for the Halloween Party! UGH!

So I leave you with this...

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (anyone know how to do the degrees symbol?)


1/2 stick of butter (melted)
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • Mix and stir in cleaned and dried pumpkin seeds and place on a baking sheet.
  • Place in the oven and stir every 5-7 minutes or until brown and crisp.
Happy Halloween!!!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Once again the very best chocolate chip cookies ever!

I stand by that statement as I did the first time I said it back in February when I first made these cookies! See here These cookies are rich, chewy, crunchy (if you cook them longer!) and delicious each and every time I make them.

My daughter came to me trying to figure out what to give her friend for her birthday. She wasn't going to be able to go to the party but she still wanted to give her a gift. Buying gifts for these children gets harder and harder all the time. They have everything, and I mean everything. We decided that we would make her her favorite sweet treat. Turns out she loves chocolate chip cookies. Easy!!! She loved them. She told my oldest daughter that it was her favorite gift, even better than her Nintendo DS. Now if that doesn't prove that these are the best ever I don't know what does!

I found this recipe on Jill's blog at Simple Daily Recipes. If you love chocolate chip cookies you have to try these!!!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I only had light brown sugar so I added 1 Tbs molasses)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup healthy egg substitute, or 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375F degrees.

Beat sugars and butter in large bowl with mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough 1/4 cupfuls (I used a small scoop so I got smaller cookies) about 2 inches apart on ungreased (or silpat covered) cookie sheet.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge...Pizza!!!

Olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella and wild mushrooms...Yum!!!

Once again I am a very late Daring Baker, but I am still a Daring Baker. I swear the end of the months are coming faster and faster on me.

When I first found out that the challenge this month was to make pizza I was so excited. I emailed my friend, Jenn who is also a daring baker and said I couldn't wait!!! Well once again I waited and waited all the way until yesterday!

You see we eat pizza every single week. I have a whole wheat dough recipe that I whip up in my bread machine and it works great for a late night. I make everything and T. pops it in the oven. So what happened? Why didn't I make this one of those 4 weeks that I had? Who knows why I do the things I do. So this is what I did: I made the dough yesterday morning and then put the pizza together today! Better late then never!

This months event was co hosted by Rosa at Rosa's Yummy Yums and Glenna at A Fridge Full of Food. Thanks ladies for a great recipe. One that I will definitely use again. This recipe could also be made Gluten Free.

We were allowed to use any toppings we wished. It could be sweet or savory. I choose to top mine with:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
minced garlic
fresh basil
fresh oregano
mozzarella cheese
dried wild mushrooms rehydrated, (morels, porcini, Brazilian caps, Ivory portabellas, shitake and oyster)
coarse sea salt for the outer crust

Would I use this recipe again? Most definitely. I was a little daunted by the 2 day thing and how the dough felt when I took it out of the fridge in the morning but it was easy to toss...yes I did try tossing and it makes for a nice thin crust in the middle and a nice thick crust on the edge! The flavor was nice and the chewiness of it was great. I also cooked mine on a pizza pan and it turned out great. Really LOVED IT!!!


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.


2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.


10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.


11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.


13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grass Fed Arm Roast Slow Cooked

Over the weekend I saw a post on Kelly's blog Sass & Veracity and just new I had to try it. I had planned to try it on Sunday but I ended up with a migraine and the last thing on my mind was food. I knew that the girls were home on Monday and I had planned a morning at the beach for them but I knew that I would be home early enough in the afternoon to start this baby cooking!!!

This arm roast is one that we got when we purchased the portion of our cow over the summer. We are lucky enough, through our CSA (Worden Farms), to be able to opt in on a free range, grass fed cow purchase (happy meat)...Get this...local meat!!!!! This meat is delicious. Our only problem is that we didn;t get enough!!! Oh well lesson learned.

Anyway, this roast turned out incredible. I have had major issues in the past with pot roasts so I was really afraid to try braising for the first time without a back up plan for dinner, but I jumped right in a did it. I am so glad that I did. Kelly and her helpful hints did the trick and dinner was a huge success!!!

Beef Chuck with Vegetables in Red Wine (February 08 Issue of Bon Appetit.)

1-4 lb. boneless beef chuck roast, tied
2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper, coarsely ground
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. brown sugar
6 pieces smoked bacon, chopped
2 c. dry red wine
1/2 c. chicken broth
small pkg. pearl onions
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 head garlic, cloves peeled
3 bay leaves
4 lg. carrots, peeled and chunked
3 med. parsnips, peeled and chunked
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into large cubes
10-12 small red potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix thyme, paprika, salt, pepper, mustard and brown sugar in a small bowl. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and rub the spice blend over the entire surface of the roast.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces over medium heat until well browned. Remove from the pan, and reserve in a small container leaving the fat in the bottom to brown the meat. If you have more than a couple of tablespoons, pour it off.

Turn the heat up and brown the meat on all sides until rich in color and beginning to crust, about 10 minutes in all. Transfer the meat to a platter and pour in the red wine, scraping the browned bits from the pan as it deglazes. Continue to cook until it's reduced to about 1/2 cup then add the broth and bacon. Set the beef on top and place the garlic, onions and bay leaves all around the roast.

Cover the pan and place in the center of the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove from oven, turn the roast over, and stir the onions, cover and cook for 1 hour more. Check occasionally to make sure the pan doesn't become dry by adding water 1/4 cup at a time.

Add the rest of the vegetables around the roast, stir and cook for an additional 45 minutes until all are tender.

Remove the roast and veggies from the pan and keep warm. Spoon off any fat on the surface of the sauce and correct seasonings. Serve over slices of beef and veggies.

***T. does not like carrots so I skipped them. I did take Kelly's advice and use celery root. What a surprise that was. Love it! I also had no pearl onions so I cut up cooking onions and used regular potatoes instead of tiny red skins (I had them).

This was truly an incredible experience for me. First time braising, deglazing (to this extent) and having a roast that was edible!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Busy Weekend...

Yah, I know I say this but man are we busy. Lucky for us the girls are at an age now where being too busy doesn't put them off schedule and ruin the rest of the week.

They were off school Friday and unfortunately it was a very, very rainy day but we made the most of it and went to Ft. Myers beach for a nice rainy stroll along the shore. found many treasure and were just able to "be" for a while.

Miles of beach and not a soul around!

Saturday morning came on strong with skating lessons bright and early but we were able to get the rest of our chores and errands done by noon. I spent the rest of the day making food for a Halloween party that we were going to at 4:00. I made Pico de Gallo and Hot Spinach Dip (recipe below). Fun party, nice to catch up and see everyone again! Wendy looked so scary as a witch!!!

My headless Genie and Hula Girl!

The girls woke us up bright and early Sunday morning and the weather was nice and cool so we decided to go for another walk on the beach. What a beautiful walk. We needed sweaters but it made for a nice leasurely non-sweaty walk for a change!

Saw starfish...lots and lots of starfish!

Saw this dolphin right up on shore hunting for his breakfast, 2 big snook that went past! The girls were up with that group of people so they got a really close up view!

Hot Spinach Dip


2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp AP flour
1-3/4 cups heavy cream
2 packages (9 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package dry vegetable soup mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 Tbsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook and stir until onion is crisp tender and the garlic is fragrant. about 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in flour, cook and stir and additional minute. Add the heavy cream and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in chopped spinach, water chestnuts, cheddar and the vegetable soup mix, sour cream, black pepper, and hot sauce. Spoon into a 1 quart casserole dish or the pot from your crock pot and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake dip until bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or in your crock pot.
I served this with tortilla chips but bread would work just as well. This went over really well and was something rich but different!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, October 24, 2008

October 24, 2008 - Finest Foodies Friday

Once again here I am, entrusted for another week, of doing FFF. This week I had the daunting task of choosing just 5 blogs from 2456 blogs that are on The Foodie Blogroll!!! Can you just imagine for a second what this is like????

As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday! FFF is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! Jenn does this so we can all share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of her favorites and yours! What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community to share ideas about all things food related.

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join Jenn over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

The method that I used for this week was to go back one year and highlight blogs that joined this same week last year. Now remember I could only pick 5 so if yours wasn't highlighted it was for no other reason than these were the first ones I looked at!

Two Fat Als is a cooking blog for young foodies. It is written and photographed by two New York City graduate students, Alanna and Alex. The recipes are designed for college students, young graduates and anyone else looking for healthy, cost-effective and delicious recipes! And aren't we all right now!!! They joined The Foodie Blogroll on October 19, 2007

Give Peas a Chance is a really nice blog featuring many recipes and some excellent lunch ideas. Go on check it out! They joined The Foodie Blogroll on October 24, 2007

Tangerine's Kitchen Some incredible looking cakes on this site! You need to check these out! They joined The Foodie Blogroll on October 20, 2007

Baltimore Snacker Describes himself as just a guy from Baltimore who likes to try out old and new restaurants and recipes. Go check out his blog featuring Baltimore. He joined The Foodie Blogroll October 20, 2007

Lunch Bucket Bento Self described as jumping on the Bento bandwagon and documenting the journey. This is a fun site with the focus on lunch! They joined The Foodie Blogroll on October 22, 2007

Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured on FFF, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them. JENN NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!!

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greek Stuffed Peppers

Greek Stuffed Peppers!

So I was stumped once again for dinner. Imagine that. A freezer full of crap and I still have no idea what to make for dinner! So what did I do? I "twittered" it.

Peter from Kalofagas was the first to respond and his recipe sounded really good. All except for the fact that his recipe called for mint and dill, 2 of T.'s most hated things and tomato's, the oldest daughters nemesis. What was I to do? Should I substitute and change Peter's family recipe (his Mom's???)? No way, screw the rest of the family. I made it his way and guess what? They all loved it!!!

Just before they went into the oven

Piperies Gemistes (Stuffed Peppers)-Peter of Kalofagas

2 lbs. lean ground beef
12 red peppers, washed, tops cut and inside cored

2 medium onions, diced

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup of fresh dill, finely chopped

2 tsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

1 cup of good tomato sauce (pomodoro)

1/4 cup arborio rice
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash then cut the tops off your peppers. Hollow out the peppers to rid them of any ribs or seeds. Reserve
  2. Place a large skillet on your stove and heat under medium high heat. Pour in your olive oil then add the onions and garlic and lower to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes to soften the onions.
  3. Add your parsley, dill, mint and and tomato sauce and simmer until most of the liquid is gone and you have a thick mixture. Take off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Add your rice and ground beef to the onion/herb mixture and and mix all the ingredients using a wooden spoon. Add 2 tsp. of salt and pepper and mix. To taste for seasoning, take a spoonful of the mixture and fry it or cook it in the microwave to taste for seasoning. Afterwards, adjust the seasoning in the mixture to your liking.
  5. Using a spoon, stuff your peppers and line the bottom of a roasting pot. Pour 1 cup of water over the peppers and place them in a preheated 375F oven for 1 hour.
Hints: This is Peter's recipe but I wasn't sure if I was suppose to cook the rice or meat. I cooked the meat but not the rice. I wouldn't do either again next time. I would leave the rice raw and the meat.

I made these during the day and then T. heated them up for us for dinner as I was at Karate with oldest daughter. Delicious for a make ahead meal!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Pumpkin Pie Pudding!

I've made the cheesecake, the traditional pie, the bread, cookies and cupcakes. This, though, was something different. As soon as I saw I knew I had to have it. Susan of Food Blogga was the source.

Now she did all sorts of fancy stuff with it like added some incredible looking candied pecans and some freshly whipped cream. Did I bother with all of, nope I ran out of time. But it was still so delicious. I will be making it again, and again, and again!

Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Candied Pecans and Freshly Whipped Cream (From Food Blogga)
Makes 4 small or 2 large servings

2 cups vanilla soy milk (or milk of your choice)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
a pinch of salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Candied Pecans:
1/4 cup unsalted pecan halves
1/8 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium pot over medium heat. Add 1 cup of milk, whisking until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Add the second cup of milk and salt, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Lower the heat, cooking pudding for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pudding from heat for 2-3 minutes. Lightly whisk one egg with vanilla extract; slowly add to the pudding, whisking constantly. (Removing it from the heat will prevent the egg from cooking). Stir in the pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until thick, stirring several times. Remove from heat and place in serving dishes.

Before you make the candied pecans, lay a piece of tin foil coated with cooking spray on the counter. Also coat your utensil with cooking spray so the sugar won't stick to it. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the pecan halves. Sprinkle sugar and salt evenly over them. As the sugar begins to melt and coat the pecans, quickly stir them until evenly coated and lightly toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and slide nuts onto the tin foil, including any sugar drippings. (Avoid browning the nuts as the sugar will taste burnt.) Let cool and harden, then chop into small pieces.

Before you begin to make the whipped cream, consider these helpful tips: Start with a deep stainless steel bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Chill the beaters of the electric mixer as well. Both will help to create more volume in the cream. Once ready beat ½ cup heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whipped cream and beat until peaks re-form. Whipped cream can be covered with Saran Wrap and refrigerated for 1-2 hours.

Thanks for this delicious alternative to all of the other pumpkin recipes out there!!!

***I also wanted to let everyone know (brag about it...) that I was featured on a really cool site yesterday as a featured blogger on The Food Channel. Check it out!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More banana recipes???!!!

Yummy, hot from the oven banana bread!

I seem to have an absolute plethora of rotting bananas in my house. I am really hoping for apples but the kids keep eating all of those and leaving me with bananas! So I made banana bread. Really good and fast banana bread.

I had my youngest home with me yesterday so it needed to be fast. In between the coloring and the constant questions and making me watch her every move I needed to be quick with anything that I had going on. I knew this one would be fast and just what I needed.

Moist and nutty banana bread!

Banana Bread (all

Preheat oven to 350


2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2-1/3 cup bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pecans, chopped

  1. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, mashed bananas vanilla, and pecans until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
This was a super fast and easy recipe. Be sure not to over mix the batter. Over mixing will make for a drier bread. This is a very bananay bread with a ton of moisture! Loved it!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Quiche my way...

Quiche with sausage, mushrooms, onion, zucchini, and green peppers! Yummmmmm!

Okay so I haven't really been posting much in the food way but I have been cooking. It's just that T. has been out of town and it really makes my life all the more hectic. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones who's husband helps out, a lot!!!

Anyway the other night I couldn't figure out what to make so I hunted through the freezer and found a couple of Italian sausage links (leftover from another recipe), some zucchini, and some green peppers. I thought quiche and good thing I did. This turned out so good. For some reason the cheese escaped to the top and made it look more like a cheese pie and I would have spiced it up a bit but this was dinner for the girls and I.

Yes, I confess to using store bought pastry but I was all alone with the girls and this was still better than going out!!!

My Quiche


! ready made pie dough (I know, I was just really lazy that day!!!)
2 sausage link, sausage squeezed out of casing
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch nutmeg
fresh ground pepper

  • Place pie dough in a tart pan and press in. Cook at 450 for about 15 minutes or until almost cooked. Remove from oven and rest.
  • Meanwhile cook sausage over med. heat until cooked through. Remove and store in a separate bowl.
  • Cook onions and mushrooms until cooked through. Add zucchini and green peppers, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.
  • In a seperate bowl beat 4 eggs with milk, nutmeg and pepper.
  • Place sausage in the bottom of the pie shell top with the cooked veggies, then cheese. Top this the egg mixture.
  • Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until the center is set and a knife comes out clean.
  • Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17, 2008 - Finest Foodies Friday

Jenn - The Leftover Queen is out of town and she has decided (after I begged and begged and told her how worthy I was!) to allow me to take over her Finest Foodie Friday post while she was away. Just to let you all know this is harder than it looks! I had to choose 5 blogs (only 5 blogs???) out of 2416!!!

As always here is what the FFF is all about. Finest Foodies Friday! FFF is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! We do this so we can share in the rich diversity of what The Foodie Blogroll has to offer by featuring some of our favorites yours! What is the Foodie Blogroll? It is the first and fastest growing free membership blogroll for food bloggers and has become a wonderful community (just under 2000 strong) to share ideas about all things food related.

The only requirement to be featured here on FFF is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and be displaying The Foodie Blogroll widget on your blog. If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join us, please click here!

If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here on FFF, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite Foodie Blogroll foodblogs here.

My method of choice here was purely selfish. I wanted to find 5 food blogs that shared the same ideas and philosophy that I have about food (local or organic, minimal meat) but, have never been to their blogs before! How fun for me. These are the 5 that I choose in no particular order at all:

Alexandra of Alexandra Cooks- This is a beautiful blog with wonderful photos. Alexandra describes herself as an avid supporter of the local food movement. Go look at her pics!

VB of Feed Yourself-Another blog with beautiful pictures and with a focus on real food recipes. This is their blog description: Forget food from a box or plastic package. There is plenty of real, whole food out there. Go get it and feed yourself! Couldn't have said it better myself!

Amy of Super Healthy Kids - This is a mother of three kids, a graduate of Health Education, and who loves food. She says that this blog is the journey of trying to practice what she preaches, and how difficult, yet rewarding it can be. I am on a similar journey so this blog was very attractive to me. Love her position on HFCS!

Dog Hill Kitchen- This blogger loves cooking from scratch and trying new things. She tries to buy locally as much as possible and to keep most processed foods out of her families diet. She is an omnivore but eats vegan/vegetarian meals several times a week. I love this blog because the philosophy is very similar to what our family has!

Feeding Maybelle- This family started this blog when they thought Belle (the baby) was allergic to dairy. They kept going because they realized that they loved the vegan foods were making. But, as they say, they are omnivores; and they eat a great deal of local, vegetarian, vegan…they eat a lot. Once again the philosophy is similar to mine and I couldn't resist!

Well that the list for this week. I have tried to choose blogs that have not been featured but I may or may not have succeeded but regardless I now have 5 more blogs to follow myself!!! Come back next week for another installment of my FFF!!!

Remember, if you would like to see a blog featured here, who is part of the FBR please visit the forum and nominate them. I NEED NOMINATIONS!!!!!!

Also we all love to know how people came to find our blogs, so please visit all of our featured bloggers today and don’t forget to tell them that you found them via Finest Foodies Friday!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Cookbook Review...

I hate doing product reviews. Generally all of the stuff that I receive to do a review on is some sort of processed food and I usually have a hard time finding something nice to say about it. I did like this stuff though and was pleasantly surprised! So when I was contacted a while ago by the girls (Michelle Huxtable and Alyse Christensen) at The Gathering of Friends, to review their new cookbook I was pretty excited. How bad could it be. I like new recipes and love cookbooks.

Well let me tell you...I LOVE this book. It has a unique set up and one that I was using when I first started this blog. A recipe and at the end a shopping list of everything you will need. They take it a step further and do it by menu. You have the whole theme laid out in front of you, menu and all and then the recipes (each with a beautiful photograph) and at the end of that theme you have the shopping list and they have left room for comment and a spot to help you organize yourself! These girls have thought of everything.

Did I mention how beautiful it is? Go to their site and check it out for yourself. The Gathering of Friends. My only wish is that they had of sent me an extra copy to give away...hint, hint!

Thanks for the book ladies it will be well used!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My sister will delete this post from her reader...

The Best Ever Banana Muffins...I will never use another recipe!

She thinks I have gone mad with all of the muffins and cupcakes that I have been posting lately. I think she is about to plan an intervention (anyone watch "How I Met Your Mother" last night?) between me and my muffin pan. Truth be told I don't really even like my muffin pan and badly need a new one. But I am really liking muffins and cupcakes right now. Too bad Sis this one still goes in!!!

These were the absolute best banana muffins I have ever had or made. They were rich, nutty, full of chocolate and bananas. Everything a banana muffin should be. Can I duplicate the recipe? Not too sure. I had one of those bags of ingredients that you buy in bulk and always forget to label or just figure you will remember what it was. I think this bag was almond meal. Maybe from a Daring Baker challenge months ago? I guess I need more almond meal!!! My quest is over. I now have the perfect banana muffin recipe!

Banana Nut Muffins


1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup milk
5 Tbs butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven 400 degrees. Place liners in your muffin pan.
  • Mix flour, pecans, almond meal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the bananas, milk, butter and egg.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just moist (do not over mix). Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Fill the muffin cups to almost over full with the batter.
  • Bake until tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  • Cool for 1 minute then remove and allow to cool on wire rack.
I will never make another banana muffin using any other recipe! This makes me soooo happy. Probably my sister too who will never have to read another post on banana muffins!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So what did I do with the leftover cream cheese mixture?

Cream Cheese and Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Turnovers!

Sunday afternoon was pretty lazy around here. We put in the garden and then I sat outside and read while the girls and the dogs swam. One of those really nice days where all seems right in the world.

But then I got hungry, and I remembered the leftover cream cheese and chocolate chip mixture from the cupcakes that I made for the Baking for Breast Cancer Awareness Event. I had gotten some pretty good suggestions as to what to make but it was a lazy Sunday...

I popped some frozen puff pastry out of the freezer and let it thaw and I cut the sheet in quarters and filled them with the mixture and sealed them up nice and tight. I gave them a little egg wash and sugared the top, popped them in the oven and ate them up. Nah, not really I shared with everyone. But these were so good that I did momentarily think about keeping them all to myself!

So remember, don't throw out your leftovers. They can be made into some pretty incredible things!!!

I am sending this over to Ivy at Kopiaste... for her Sweet Pies Event!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Jalapeño Poppers finally...

Jalapeño Poppers

I have been wanting jalapeño poppers for a while now. Every time somebody mentioned peppers or I saw jalapeños it was all I could think about. I wanted the yummy ones that we used to be able to get in the bars. Filled with piping hot cream cheese and just a little zing of hot pepper. These were way better than that.

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. We had set aside the morning to finally get our garden in. I am really hoping that we aren't too late but we'll see. We planted a variety of tomatoes and some zucchini, peas, arugula, basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro and just for fun some sun flower seeds. Every year I swear I will keep a diary of what works and what doesn't but I never, ever do. When will I ever learn...

Doesn't look like much yet but just you wait and see...
It was after that when I decided that we were having poppers for lunch. After hunting around on the internet for that perfect sounding recipe I decided that I liked what was in my head a bit better.

Jalapeño Poppers


2 packages (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
12 jalapenos, split lengthwise, seeds and membrane removed
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 box panko breading

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, and cheddar cheese Spoon this mixture into the jalapeño pepper halves.
  2. Mix the flour with the black pepper, salt, paprika and garlic powder
  3. Put the milk and flour mix into two separate small bowls. Dip the stuffed jalapeños first into the milk then into the flour, making sure they are well coated with each. Allow the coated jalapeños to dry for about 10 minutes.
  4. Dip the jalapeños in milk again and roll them through the breadcrumbs. Allow them to dry, then repeat to ensure the entire surface of the jalapeño is coated.
  5. Place in the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes before frying.
  6. In a deep pot, heat the oil to 365 degrees F ( 180 degrees C). Deep fry the coated jalapeños 2 to 3 minutes each, until golden brown. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Baking for Breast Cancer Awareness...

Ley over at Cilantro and Lime is hosting this event to help raise awareness for Breast Cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I think it is something that we all need to become more aware of. If you have not loss someone close to you to this horrible disease you are definitely in the minority. Each year it is estimated that nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. Approximately 1,700 men will also be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die each year. The evaluation of men with breast masses is similar to that in women, including mammography.

The best defense for breast cancer is early detection so give yourself a breast self-exam at least once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, a lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, or a discharge from the nipple. If you discover a persistent lump in your breast or any changes in breast tissue, it is very important that you see a physician immediately. However, 8 out of 10 lumps are benign, or not cancerous.

In honor of this great event I baked Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese/Chocolate Chip Filling.

These were so good and so easy to make. It took me less time to make these than it does to make a cake!!! Ridiculously simple. Have I mentioned these were good? When I ate my first one it was still warm and gooey from the oven and then about 10 minutes later I ate the second one (it was sacrificial, all in the name of a good photo which didn't turn out so great!) they were even better. They were so rich. I was going to frost them with some pink icing in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month but after tasting one I realized that would be total overkill! I got out the lovely pink tulle and shot away!! I can't wait for the girls to taste these...they will love them!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese/Chocolate Chip Filling.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (you can use whatever you like but I like bittersweet)


In a bowl, beat cream cheese. Add sugar, egg, salt. Mix well. Fold in chips. Set aside. For cupcakes, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well. Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full with batter. Top each with 1 Tbs. of cream cheese mixture and then top with more chocolate batter to cover the cream cheese. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. This makes 12

I did have some cream cheese mixture left over. Haven't really decided what to make with that but whatever it is I bet it will be delicious!!!

Go on over to Ley's blog and bake something to help promote October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As Always...


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zucchini Muffins with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips!

Yeah, I know that is a huge title but that's what these were. I guess I should have added that it was bittersweet chocolate chips that I used...

Real simple recipe. I used the last 2 bags of grated zucchini that I had in my freezer. Probably just in time for my CSA to start next month! No mixer needed just 2 bowls.

Zucchini Muffins with Cranberries and Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Oven 350


1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 butter, melted
1 egg
handful of dried cranberries
handful of bittersweet chocolate chips


In a mixing bowl add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. I another bowl add the sugar, zucchini, butter, and egg. Mix well.
Add the flour mixture and stir til just combined. Stir in cranberries and chocolate chips.
Fill paper lined muffin cups very, very full. Should make about 7 large sized muffins.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, testing for doneness before removing from oven.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes then remove from pan to rack to cool the rest of the way.

These were incredible. I love how the spice accented the zucchini and the cranberries and the chocolate just took it right over the top. The girls loved these so I guess i need to come up with more zucchini!!!

***Just saw that I my apple in puff pastry photo is on the Foodie Views of the Day. Go on over there and check it out and give me a quick vote!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kathy's Cannellini Bean Salad with Tuna

Cannellini Bean Salad with Tuna

Now for another great recipe from the Potluck last Friday...wonder how long I can ride this one out???

I loved this salad, so much so that I begged for some of the leftovers so that I could have some for lunch the next day! I think I loved the simplicity of it and how all the flavors were so nicely balanced what with the oil and the lemon. Yumm. I must make some more for lunch tomorrow!

Cannellini Bean Salad with Tuna


2 cans cannellini beans
2 cans of tuna, drained
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced small


Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Thanks so much for the great recipe Kathy. I will be making this one over and over again!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here it is...Lasagna!

This is a really simple lasagna recipe to make. I always use the no bake noodles.
I know that there are several different schools of thought on this. Yes, I do
like the texture of the boiled noodles better but really the noodle is just a
vehicle for the sauce and that all gets soaked up into both of them!

This recipe will make enough for about 6 people. We increased our from
Friday night for enough to fill a 20 X 13 aluminum pan.

My sauce is incredible and so easy to make. Do yourself a favor and
start making your own sauces. I make one almost the same as this one
for our pizza's. I just use chunked tomatoes instead of pureed ones.
(What is with my font here???!!! LOL)

Homemade Lasagna


1 box no bake Lasagna
1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
4 cups (1 pound) shredded Mozzarella cheese
5 cups homemade pasta sauce,(see below), or 2 jars Hunt's
Spaghetti Sauce, sausage flavor
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, cooked, drained, crumbled


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper,
nutmeg & 1 cup Mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl; mix well.
1 cup pasta sauce in a 13x9-inch baking dish.
with half each of the lasagna, Ricotta cheese mixture,
sausage, remaining pasta sauce & Mozzarella cheese.
uncovered 40 minutes or until hot & bubbly. Let stand
15 minutes before serving.

Pasta Sauce


1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
About 5 cups pureed tomatoes (I use ones that I froze last winter)
garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste


In a small amount of oil cook onions and garlic until the onions
are translucent.
Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Turn the heat to simmer and add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer uncovered for about 1 hour or until the sauce has reached
the consistency of a jarred sauce.

The freshness of the sauce still comes through and everyone will
wonder what your secret is. They did mine and that is one of the
reasons I am posting this now!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, October 6, 2008

First Monthly Potluck Dinner...huge success!

What a great night it was. Being surrounded by a large group of your friends, sharing food, wine, conversation and lots of fun. The children swam or played most of the night so it was really just us adults all gathered around a large table "breaking bread"!

We decided to give this a try. We have a huge circle of friends and feel very fortunate for this but it has seemed that in the last year or so that we are all losing touch with each other. None of us really wanted to invest all of the money, time and energy into a huge party that was sponsored by just one of us so this was a natural progression for us. We started the planning of this a month and a bit out but there was really nothing to it short of finding out who was available and what they would bring. All I had to do as hostess was have a couple of bottles of wine on hand, buy the paper products and clear a space for the food! It was so cool to be surrounded by all of these people for such a fun night...thanks to all of you for coming!!!

For this month's Potluck I choose and Italian theme for the ease of it.

The food was great we supplied the lasagna (recipe later this week!) and everyone else brought the rest.

We had a great Caesar Salad (no pictures)

Antipasti platter ( pictures)

Cannellini Bean salad with Tuna (this was delicious and will make it this week):

Bruschetta (gotta have bread)

Gazpacho (incredible!)

Ice Cream Dessert (where to start??? This was amazing! I am working on getting the recipe as they had a triathlon this weekend and were out of town!)

Smucker's Uncrustables. A necessity at any party where you have more than 2 children...This is the one thing they are guaranteed to eat. They are against everything I believe in food wise but are a great treat!!!

I think I have some takers for hosting this event next month. It really was so easy. Clean up was a breeze as everyone brought there own stuff and took it home. Please consider trying this if you have a group of friends that are as busy as we all are!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Apples in Puff Pastry

This was a nice size to 1/4 and serve a piece for each of us!

No I didn't make my own puff pastry. Did that once and didn't really turn out so good for me. This time I was in a hurry anyway and just wanted to use up some aging apples that I had been looking at for a while. I had one leftover sheet of puff pastry in the freezer so I thawed that out and took my apples and just plopped them in and pulled up all the edges almost like an apple galette but with puff pastry. I used an egg wash on the pastry and placed it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Checking often to see about the coloring of it. It should b a nice golden brown.

For the apples all I did was chop up a couple of apples and to taste I added cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, some sugar and a touch of water. These apples were a little dried out so I added an over ripe pear to the mix as well. I let this cook until the apples were soft. I let this cool over night but I think room temp would be okay.

This was a super easy dessert and the whole family thought I put a lot of work into it. The presentation is wonderful!

Tonight we are trying something new here. I am hosting our first monthly Dinner with Our Friends. We always used to have parties regularly but believe me when you have a huge group of friends this can get very costly. My friend Jenn and I were talking and she was telling me about some of their friends that host a Community Dinner every Tuesday night. They pick a theme for the night and then just give their friends an open invitation. I loved this idea but there is nooooo way in this world that I could ever do a weekly thing so I decided on the first Friday of every month. I said that I would host the first few and that anyone who wanted could take it over after this. We also decided on one list of friends (about 40 people with about 1/3 of that children) that are invited every month. Whoever is hosting can add to that list but not remove. Everyone is pretty excited about this and so are we. I only had to make lasagna and tidy up my house!!! Love this and can't wait to see everyone!!! I'll fill you in more on Monday after our first one but this is a low impact way to keep up with everyone throughout our very busy lives!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lemon Chicken Scaloppini...

I had no idea what was going to be for dinner last night. Wednesday night's are the only night that we aren't running off to something that the girls are doing so I usually put a bit more effort into the meal. This time it was easy though.

I went on Tastespotting for some inspiration and actually found something that wouldn't require me to re mortgage the house to make or take up any of my valuable "play with the kids time". Very, very important to me right now!!!

I came across this post for Lemon Chicken Scaloppini and just couldn't resist! I am so glad I didn't. I made this and served it with rice and green beans and it was incredible. The rice took longer to make then the chicken. Loved this dish...have I mentioned that I loved this dish????

Lemon Chicken Scaloppini (The Food Channel)


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 4 chicken cutlets. All natural, hormone and antibiotic free)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I added garlic powder and black pepper as well)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thin
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I also finished with garlic powder and onion powder)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped


  • Place chicken breasts on cutting board and slice in half horizontally, forming 8 thin filets.
  • Place each chicken fillet between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound until 1/4-inch thin.
  • Combine flour and salt in shallow container. Dredge pounded chicken in seasoned flour; shake off excess flour.
  • Heat butter and oil in large skillet. Working in several small batches, sauté chicken for 5 minutes over medium heat, turning once.
  • Add white wine and chicken broth. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Add lemon pieces and capers.
  • Season to taste; garnish with parsley.
Everyone loved this dish. Even my daughter who said "that smells so bad" ended up eating it and loving it!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!