Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

To start with I want to wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! I'm a little behind on this but I wanted you to know the sentiment was there.

Now onto a regular blog post...

With the cold weather finally settling in all over the country our thoughts are turning to hot chocolate. Now what goes perfect with some hot chocolate? Marshmallows!!!

I first tried making these a couple of years ago and the kids never forgot them and had been asking and asking for them ever since.

This year we had already decided that there was going to be a huge paring back. We already have SO MUCH STUFF. None of us NEEDED anything this year. Pretty lucky huh? Sure there are a lot of wants but I think we've been coming to terms that there is a huge difference between WANTS and NEEDS. One of the things I decided to do was to make everyone some gifts. Tony got the homemade hot sauce and the girls got the homemade marshmallows. Worked out perfectly and they opened them for their one gift they get to open on Christmas Eve. Perfect for the traditional cup of hot chocolate.

Homemade Marshmallows (Smitten Kitchen-Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows)
Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows
About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)
  1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
  2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
  4. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. (Some reviewers felt this took even longer with a hand mixer, but still eventually whipped up nicely.)
  5. In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out (learning from my mess of a first round). Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  6. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
***I followed this recipe to a tee. Both times I have made them and they've turned out perfectly both times. Love this one. Next time I may try and add some peppermint extract to half of the batch to shake it up a bit!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Pasta - Yep PASTA!!!

I hope you weren't looking for a holiday recipe? I'm so deep in denial about the approaching festivities that I haven't even started baking...and I really need to post more.

I was so excited when I saw this recipe. I LOVE Spinach Artichoke dip and try to talk Tony and the kids into it anytime I see it on a menu when we are out. Yep, made it at home several times too. One of the problems though when I make it at home is that I eat way too much of it! So this way was perfect It was served with pasta and that meant I could have it as a main course and eat as much as I liked...:-)

And did I mention that this dish is fast to prepare? Yep, really, really fast. Like about as long as it takes to cook the pasta fast.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
(found on Pinterest by Budget Bytes)


2 Tbsp Olive oil
4 cloves garlic
4 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts
1 package (10 oz.) chopped spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of pasta (any shape)


  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil with a lid. When it comes to a boil, cook the pasta according to package directions (boil for about 10 minutes or until al dente). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. While you are cooking the pasta, start making the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mince the garlic and cook it in the oil until it is slightly tender (1-2 minutes).
  3. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and white wine. Stir until everything is evenly incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium/low.
  4. Add the milk and Parmesan cheese. Stir it in until the Parmesan has melted in and is evenly incorporated. Stir in the hot sauce and thawed/drained spinach.
  5. Drain the can of artichoke hearts. Roughly chop them and add to the sauce. Taste the sauce and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes if desired.
  6. Add the cooked and drained pasta and stir to coat. Serve warm.
This is a wonderfully satisfying dinner that goes perfectly with a good glass of white wine!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sweet and Sticky Oven Baked Chicken Thighs

I was searching the internet the other day looking for something new to try with chicken thighs.  Seems that more and more of my weeknight meals revolve around them and the family is getting a little tired of my normal baked thigh recipes.  Luckily this recipe caught my eye and it is definitely a keeper!!! 
Kristen from Dine and Dish makes these using chicken wings but thighs are what I had.
Sweet and Sticky Oven Baked Chicken Thighs (from Dine and Dish)
1 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup ketchup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 Tablespoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt 
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 ½ cups brown sugar
8 chicken thighs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the chicken thighs
  2. Line metal baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack to elevate the chicken.
  3. Pour the barbecue sauce over chicken thighs in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal tightly and shake until sauce is well distributed.
  4. Arrange chicken thighs on the rack over the aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until crisp and cooked through.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It’s Fall…Pumpkin Dump Cake

I have been eyeing this recipe popping up all over the place in the past weeks or so.  Problem with me right now is that when I have the time to make something it seems that I never have all of the ingredients! 
Well today the clouds parted and all the stars aligned and I made it!!  And it’s good.  Really, really good!!!
Pumpkin Dump Cake (from Cookies & Cups)
  • 1 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 10 oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted
  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers or pecans
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Spray a 9×13 baking pan lightly with cooking/baking spray
  3. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour into your prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle your entire box of cake mix on top, followed by your nuts or graham crackers and toffee chips.
  6. Pour your melted butter evenly on top.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mango Margaritas

So I’ve been busy…
And not just drinking these delicious margaritasDSC_0435
We’ve had skating competitions… skating

BMX races in PA and NC and all throughout FL…BMX
And sadly only an 8 week summer to fit it all in!
But this is all about these delicious margaritas that we made last weekend.  I have a friend who keeps me in nice supply of fresh herbs, lemons and mangos depending on the season.  Right now we are coming up on the tail end of mango season and she brought me bags full!  I juiced all of the mangoes in my heavy duty juicer.  Some of the juice became popsicles and I made a delicious batch of Mango Frozen Yogurt (which I just polished of without so much as a picture *sigh*).  But with the rest I wanted to make something adult like.  That celebrated the fruit at it’s finest.  Mango Margaritas it was…
Mango Margarita
2 oz Tequila
1 oz limoncello (or triple sec but we like the lemon flavor with the mango)
3 oz of fresh mango juice
2 ounces of water
juice of 1/2 a lime

Mix all ingredients together and serve chilled over ice.  These could be made into frozen margaritas by simply blending with ice but they were delicious like this…

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mexican Chicken Bake

I am totally stuck in a rut for dinner ideas.  Or at least I was until I remembered this recipe I had bookmarked a week or so ago.  So glad I remembered!  This was probably one of the best meals I have made in a long time.
I took the original recipe from here…Dandy Dishes
Of course I had to change some stuff around and make it all mine right?

Mexican Chicken Bake Serves 4
3 chicken breasts (follow the simple recipe below for Salsa Chicken)
1 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1 ½ tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder, or more if you really like it spicy
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional garnishes:
Shredded lettuce
Diced cherry tomatoes
Sliced avocado
Cilantro leaves
Sour cream

Preheat your oven to 375º. In a large bowl place the shredded chicken, pinto beans, spices, lime juice, sour cream, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste then mix well. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking dish and top with cheese. Pop into the preheated oven for 15 minutes then garnish the top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado slices and serve with a nice dollop of sour cream and your favorite hot sauce.

Salsa Chicken
I jar of good quality salsa (or just you favorite!)
chicken (4 breast or 8 thighs-boneless skinless)
Throw chicken and salsa into a crockpot on low and cook for 4-8 hrs depending on whether or not you had the foresight to thaw your chicken (yes, I throw frozen chicken in here).
Once the chicken is done.  You need to remove it from the crockpot and the sauce and shred it.  This chicken can now be used in tacos, nachos, or anything else that requires some nicely seasoned chicken!

***We ended up using this dish in tacos, as nachos and just like the picture is!  They loved them!!!
***You could also use a rotisserie chicken and shred that in place of the salsa chicken!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chickpea Brownies

I know, I know.  I make my comeback and now I seem to be posting some weird stuff.  Trust me these are good. 
Really, really good.
And for anyone who is on a gluten free diet, these work for you too…
Chickpea Brownies (adapted from


  • 15 oz Chickpeas, Canned
  • 3/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Good quality dark chocolate for drizzling over the top
Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Meanwhile, mix in a blender the eggs, drained and rinsed chickpeas, maple syrup and baking powder. Once blended, add in melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Pour into a square baking dish and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Melt the dark chocolate and using a fork drizzle over the top of the brownies and let cool.
***I loved these and have made them over and over again.  They have become my go to snack.  Love the texture and the feel of them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baked Fish Sandwiches with Modern Coleslaw

Hi!!!  *waving*  Do you remember me?  Well I’m back with a whole bunch of recipes to be posted and some fun stuff about the all the cool things I have been doing.  I need to pace myself though.  It’s been a while and I need to inch back in slowly…
To start I am giving you a recipe that has become one of our favorites.  So much so that in the past 2 weeks I have made it 2 time with different fish just to see how I liked it!  This recipe can also be made in about 30 minutes making it a real winner in my books!!!
My sister first made this for me when I was up in Toronto mid April for the girls Spring Break.  She got it from the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine.  Unfortunately we don’t get the magazine here in the US but we can get the recipes online.
Baked Fish Sandwiches with Modern Coleslaw (adapted from LCBO Food & Drink Winter 2011)
Serves 4
1 lb haddock or red snapper fillets, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces (I used the frozen cod and tilapia from Costco and just used 4 pieces thawed.)
½ cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large egg beaten with salt and pepper
½ cup dry plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
preheat oven to 425F

1.  Pat fish dry with paper towels. Dip fish in seasoned flour, shake off excess and dip fish in egg. Mix bread crumbs and parsley on a plate and coat fish. Reserve.

2.  Place fish on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in oven until golden brown.  This should be about 10-20 minutes (I know that’s a huge range there but it will al depend on how thick you fish is).
3.  Serve the fish in a soft roll (I used the sandwich thins) with tartar sauce and modern coleslaw (recipe below) right on the roll.
Modern Coleslaw (adapted from LCBO Food & Drink Winter 2011)
2 cups slivered napa cabbage (I used regular cabbage)
1 cup julienned English cucumber (regular cucumber – English Cuke is about $2.50 here!!!)
1/2 cup slivered red onion
2 tbsp slivered basil (I used 1 tsp dried basil leaves) 
2 tbsp rice vinegar (I used seasoned rice vinegar) 
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine cabbage, cucumber, onion and basil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with rice vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of fish sandwich.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard, Red and Yellow Peppers and Goat Cheese –Finally a new blog post!!!

So I really don’t want to even look and see when the last time I posted a recipe was. I am very, very ashamed. I really have no excuse besides being totally rushed off of my feet all the time and totally uninspired come dinner time. Usually it’s just a meal thrown together and always an old stand by. Something tried and true (and already blogged more than likely).
I happened to see this recipe though the other day and printed it out immediately. So glad I did! It is really a delicious and simple meal.

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard, Red and Yellow Peppers and Goat Cheese – From The New York Times
When making this easy pasta, be sure to cut the sweet bell peppers into very small dice; that way, they’ll lodge in the hollows of the orecchiette, along with the chard and goat cheese.
3/4 pound Swiss chard (1 bunch), stemmed and washed in two changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 red/yellow bell peppers , cut in small dice
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram (I had just thrown my dry marjoram out so I used 1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning)
3/4 pound orecchiette
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1. Begin heating a large pot of water while you stem and wash the chard. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt generously and add the chard. Blanch the chard leaves for one to two minutes until tender. Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the chard to a bowl of ice water, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop medium-fine. Keep the pot of water at a simmer.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet, and add the bell peppers and the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add the garlic and salt to taste, and stir for half a minute. Then stir in the chopped chard and the marjoram. Stir together for a few seconds, then turn the heat to very low.
3. Bring the water in the pasta pot back to a boil, and add the orecchiette. Cook al dente, following the timing instructions on the package. Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the pan with the chard and peppers. Stir in the goat cheese. Drain the pasta, transfer to the pan and toss with the chard, pepper and goat cheese mixture. Serve hot.
Yield: Serves four.
***Loved this pasta. The only thing I will do differently next time is to skip the blanching of the swiss chard. I think it will just be fine steamed in with the peppers and garlic. Also won’t loose all the nutrients in the pasta water.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

I wanted a Tuscan Bean Soup. Google that.  Go ahead.  I bet you come up with about 500 soup recipes.  I was baffled so I sat on the floor with my ever increasing collection of cookbooks surrounding me and began my quest the old fashioned way…
Thank you Ellie Kreiger for your cookbook The Food You Crave
Tuscan Vegetable Soup (adapted from Ellie Kreiger’s The Food You Crave)


  • 2 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional


In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.
Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.
**This was a quick and delicious week night meal  I had some whole wheat macaroni left over in the fridge that I also threw in the pot.  A quick and versatile meal?  You know I’ll be making this again and again…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Clementine and Peach Muffins

I love those tiny little orange balls of perfection. I usually grab 3 at a time when I sit down to eat them because definitely one is not enough so it was only natural that I would want to make muffins using them right?
This recipe was good but it needed some modifying so I made them again with much better results. The first try was dry. Really, really dry. The second try was just right!
Clementine and Peach Muffin Recipe (Adapted from
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup peach flavored yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon clementine zest
    2 tablespoon clementine juice (or orange juice)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 clementines, peeled and chopped
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk together the butter, yogurt, egg, zest, juice and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until the flour mixture is moistened. Fold the chopped clementines into the batter.
Divide the batter between 12 paper-lined muffin cups, sprinkle with raw sugar, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire cooling rack.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So it’s been a while

I know, I know…I’ve been a very, very bad blogger but honestly I was totally immersed in a 3 month long project that I loved dearly and took up the majority of the very limited free time that I have.  But the project has been completed and the torch has been passed so “I’M BAAAAAAAAACKKKKK!”
I’ve missed my twitter friends, my Facebook friends and most importantly I’ve missed my blog.  So I am back nice and fresh with a recipe that is perfect for this up coming weekend (there is some sort of game or something going on right?) or really any time you get a craving for some chicken wings that will knock your socks off!!!
They are fast and easy but take a little bit of pre planning for the marinating time but other than that they are perfect for a busy weeknight meal…Thanks @aggieskitchen for a great recipe!
Ranch Chicken Wings (from Aggie’s Kitchen, with slight seasoning changes)
2 lbs chicken wings
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dry lemon pepper seasoning salt
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 tsp dry dill seasoning (Or look for a seasoning called “It’s A Dilly” which has it all)
Dry Ranch Dressing Packet
Fresh Ground Pepper
Combine oil, lemon pepper seasoning, garlic and dill seasoning in bowl. Pour over chicken wings and let marinate for 4-6 hours.
Place wings in an oven pan covered w/foil and sprinkle liberally with Dry Ranch Dressing packet and fresh ground pepper….cook 425 degree for about 35-40 minutes. You may want to broil them for a few minutes to brown them right up…But watch them closely! Serve with Ranch dressing and cut celery.