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Made with love...

Updated: 2018-03-06T06:22:23.216-05:00


And even more Christmas recipes.....


Christmas was my first real "big" turkey dinner. It was just me & my 17 pound bird early on Christmas morning as I let my hubby sleep in a little. Of course knowing I was going to be making a turkey dinner, I knew I needed to make stuffing but I had never made bread stuffing before (well, except for from a box and no boxed stuff for the holidays!). I'd made French meat stuffing (called Forr) before but never bread stuffing, so I commenced my search for the perfect recipe a few weeks in advance of Santa's arrival. A lot of bread stuffing recipes call for sausage. My sister-in-law doesn't like sausage so I immediately threw out any thought of making any recipes that called for such. Then some of them just didn't seem appealing to me for one reason or another. Finally after many hours of research I landed on Paula Deen's website and settled on this version of bread stuffing. Wow! I must say it came out AWESOME. I cooked it in the loaf pan as suggested and cut down the amount of celery. Next time I might cut down the celery a wee bit more as it still seemed like a good amount and my husband's only complaint was that there was a tad too much of it. I also used a good amount of turkey stock in this recipe because it took me awhile to achieve the desired level of moistness I was looking for. (I used the Kitchen Basics brand of turkey stock, very good!). But still a great recipe that I will bring out again most likely next holiday season! Below that is a recipe I used for carrots (from my friend Pam). One of the many side dishes to our Christmas turkey dinner. Let's face it, a turkey dinner is just as much about the side dishes as it is about the turkey itself! I used baby carrots that I just steamed off in one of those convenient Glad steam microwave bags and followed the rest of the recipe (I upped all amounts since I was making a lot more carrots than the original recipe called for). They came out very tasty and just a little something extra than your run of the mill everyday carrot side dish - which was the goal! Turkey/Chicken Stuffing (from 1 loaf of fresh white bread (3 for a turkey) 1 small celery bunch diced (2 with turkey) 1 large onion diced (3 for turkey) 2 large eggs (up to 8 for turkey) 1 large pinch of salt ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper ½ pound unsalted butter (add ½ pound for turkey) ¼ to ½ cup fresh turkey stock (optional) Preheat oven to 350º F ( if cooking in loaf pan) In large stockpot, melt butter. Stir in chopped onions, salt and pepper and cook until onions are translucent. Add celery and cook over low heat until just tender. Tear loaf of bread into pieces and add to stockpot with onion mixture and toss well until mixed. Turn off heat and allow to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Crack eggs into mixture and use hands to toss well. Make sure the mixture is wet. Add more eggs if needed. Pack cooled mixture tightly if stuffing a bird. A loaf pan can be used. After packing dressing into loaf pan pierce with a knife and pour chicken or turkey stock over dressing ¼ to ½ cup per loaf pan. Bake at 350º F for 30 minutes. Notes from Paula’s test kitchen: This dressing works well in a loaf pan. We found the dressing much more flavorful if you took the time to separate the oil from the stock before adding to the pan. We also added 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary to kick up the flavor. Serves 6 in loaf pan and 12 for turkey. Carrots with Rosemary Butter 1 1/2 Cups julienned carrot (I used baby carrots 1 Tablespoon softened butter 3/4 Teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary 3/4 Teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley 3/4 Teaspoon brown sugar 1/4 Teaspoon salt 1/8 Teaspoon garlic powder Place carrots in a steamer basket; place in a small saucepan over 1" of water. Bring to a boil; cover & steam for 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add carrots & toss to coat. [...]

Back to some more Christmas recipes.....


So as I mentioned earlier, we hosted both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Besides French meat pies, and the Mac 'n Cheese, I served a nice spinach salad with homemade dressing that I found on and also a savory Herbed Monkey Bread courtesy of Paula Deen's website. Both were great, something different than the usual old bread & salad! And on top of that, they were both pretty easy recipes, which was something I needed with 2 straight days of cooking!!! Herbed Monkey Bread (from 1 stick butter melted, plus 1/4 cup melted butter, plus more for pan 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning 2 packages biscuits Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 12-cup Bundt pan; set aside. In a small bowl, combine cheese and Italian seasoning. Roll each individual biscuit into a ball. Dip each piece in the 1 stick of melted butter, then coat with the cheese mixture. Place dough into prepared pan; overlapping will occur. Bake bread, 30 to 35 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning, if needed. Let cool in pan, 10 minutes; invert bread onto a serving plate. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup melted butter on top and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Spinach & Mixed Greens Salad (from 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon water 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions Greens: 6 cups torn spinach 4 cups gourmet salad greens 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in onions. To prepare greens, combine spinach, salad greens, and tarragon in a large bowl; add the dressing, and toss well. Serve salad immediately. [...]

"Whoa. This is GREAT."


Those were the exact words out of my husband's mouth upon putting the first bite of this dish in his mouth. I had to agree with him. This dish is also every easy to put together. I actually used pre-cookied frozen shrimp (that I unthawed before cooking obviously) and that made it even easier! Just delicious - no other way to describe it! This will definitely make its way into our meal rotations. Thanks to my friend Lindsay for this one! Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi with Orzo 1 Cup uncooked orzo 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1/2 Teaspoon divided salt 7 Teaspoons divided butter 1 1/2 Pound peeled deveined jumbo shrimp 1 -2 dashes garlic powder 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1/4 Teaspoon black pepper 14 1/2 Ounces chicken broth 1 tsp for topping grated Parmesan cheese Spray a small sauce pan with cooking spray. Add the orzo, stirring frequently until slightly toasted. Pour in the chicken broth. Cook until almost all of the broth is absorbed. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic powder to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done. Stir the orzo back into the skillet. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. [...]

Speaking of the cookie exchange....


For my annual cookie exchange I usually serve other foods, depending on when I have it. This year, it being on a Sunday afternoon, I served a luncheon. I made lasagna, sweet & sour chicken, heavenly potatoes, and served that along with some fresh rolls from a local bakery and bakery pizza (it's a Rhode Island thing - pizza you eat cold & cheeseless, it's good, just trust me!). I also made a couple of dips for enjoyment - buffalo chicken dip and a new dip recipe I tried out - White Pizza Dip.

You'll never guess where I found this one - the back of a Lipton dried soup mix box! Hey, I don't care WHERE I find them, as long as they are good that is all that matters to me. This was one was full of flavor and I would definitely make it again!

White Pizza Dip

(from Lipton)

1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix

1 container (16 oz.) sour cream

1 cup (8 oz.) ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz.)

1/4 cup (1 oz.) chopped pepperoni (optional)

1 loaf Italian or French bread, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°. In shallow 1-quart casserole, combine Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix, sour cream, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with bread.

Cookie Exchange!


So I just realized I never updated for my annual Christmas Cookie exchange! It is a tradition I started Christmas 2006 - each of my guests brings a big batch of cookies to share. The ladies each send me their recipes so I can collect them all and make recipe "books" so anyone can head home and make any of the delicious concoctions they just had. Oh and of course everyone gets to take home a huge tray of a variety of cookies to share (or to not share) with their husbands, families, etc. This was the 4th annual exchange and my friends always continue to amaze me with the delicious goodies they make. Everyone always seems excited to come, hang out with each other, chat and celebrate the season! It is always a good time! Per usual, I make at least two recipes. I always feel as hostess I should provide more than one cookie. Both recipes were from the Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook, which I'd received from my Aunt as a Christmas gift the year before and both recipes were delicious!!! Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies (from Martha Stewart Cookies) 2 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda 1 ¼ teaspoons salt 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1/3 cup unsulfered molasses 1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped white chocolate (10oz) Nonstick spray Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and molasses and mix on medium speed until combined. Add flour mixture on low speed until combined. Stir in white chocolate. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until golden on edges, about 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, cut into 2 inch squares. Blondies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 week. Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies(from Martha Stewart Cookies) 1 cup all purpose flour ½ cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon course salt ½ teaspoon baking soda ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature ½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup packed light brown sugar 1 large egg 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract ½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large) 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together both flours, salt, and baking soda in bowl. Put butter and both sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts Using 1 ½ inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper., spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 days. [...]

Catching up


I'm going to attempt to catch up to several weeks of missed blogging. I know I'm going to miss some recipe, somewhere along the way....but here goes nothing!

First off, I hosted both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year for our families. I had 8 people for Christmas Eve, 9 for Christmas Day. It was a lot of work but good times.

Traditionally, on Christmas Eve, the food is pretty low key in my family. French meat pies, and then another stand-alone dish (i.e. not a "meat and potatoes" dish, more of a casserole-ish dish). This year I opted for Mac 'n Cheese. But it wasn't your grandma's mac 'n cheese, this one was kicked up a few notches in the cheese & flavor department. It was quite good! I thank my friend Janine for passing this one along to me!

Mac 'n Cheese

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve

Busy day = crockpot!


I really think there is nothing better than having a great meal without slaving over it all day. This past Sunday we had big plans - we had to run and errand, put up our outdoor Christmas lights, and get our tree up and house decorated. I knew I wouldn't be in the mood to put a lot of effort into dinner so I gave this recipe I found on the Crock Pot website a whirl. Delicious!

Sweet & Saucy Pork Chops


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pork chops, bone in

2 cups onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup water

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup brown sugar

Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add pork chops and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Remove pork chops and place in slow cooker. Add onion to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to low. Add garlic, water, ketchup, cider vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Pour sauce over pork chops.

Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.

For the love of Pioneer Woman!


I am positive every food blogger knows about Pioneer Woman and venerates her as the top dog of the food blogging world. I've made several of her recipes in the past months or so, just been on a Pioneer Woman kick so I wanted to rave about some of the out-of-this-world goodness I have tried lately.

First up, her Baked Lemon Pasta. Run, don't walk, to your nearest store and pick up the ingredients for this! It was delicious and even better as leftovers, if you could imagine that! I actually cut this recipe down and made it as a side dish to tilapia for dinner one night. I would, however, happily make this as a main dish as filed on her site. Yum, yum, YUM!

Next up, I tried her Crash Hot Potatoes. Hello, easy potato insane goodness! Best part of this recipe? It's insanely versatile and would go with anything. I made this as a side to chicken but had extra so I saved them and used them as breakfast potatoes when I made "brinner"(aka breakfast-for-dinner) later that week.

Of course I caved and got Pioneer Woman's cookbook. I couldn't help myself. I also got a copy for my sister-in-law who is really trying to get more into cooking and baking. The pictures and the great stories make it great for someone just getting started.

So far I've tried two recipes from the cookbook: PW's Potato Skins & Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes. If you have the book I highly recommend both! My husband said the potato skins were better than from a restaurant! Not a bad compliment whatsoever.

Sweet potatoes. Oh how I love thee!


I wish I could tell you why I never liked sweet potatoes up until about 3 or 4 years ago. I just didn't. Maybe it was the color, or some crazy pre-conceived notion from when I tried them when I was younger. Perhaps it was because my mother never made them, not being a sweet potato lover herself. Or even because probably most of the sweet potato recipes I'd tasted were very sweet - maybe TOO sweet?

I can't tell you when or where my love for sweet potatoes began but I can tell you my husband fell in love with them around the same time. So now it's nothing out of the ordinary to have sweet potatoes as a side dish to dinner. The other day I decided I wanted to try something a little different than my usual roasted sweet potatoes or my run of the mill mashed sweet potatoes. That's when I came across this little diddy on I love it because it can be easily put together in very little time with ingredients I already have in the house. And I also love it because it's a little sweet and a little savory. As I mentioned above, I think one thing that had turned me off to sweet potatoes in the past were those uber sweet, marshmallow topped casseroles. I'm more of a sweet and savory sweet potato gal, and so is my hubby.

This recipe was seriously delicious and will make it into my typical rotation for all of the reasons mentioned above Also to save time, I just took out my potato masher instead of putting the potatoes through my food processor. I guess that means my potatoes ended up more mashed and less "whipped" but nonetheless they were out of this world!

Honey Mustard Whipped Sweet Potatoes

1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup low-salt chicken broth

Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sweet potatoes; sauté 5 minutes. Add mustard and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are very tender.

Place sweet potato mixture in a food processor; process until smooth.

Super soup!


I've never made it a secret in this blog that I love my crockpot. Nothing better than throwing a bunch of stuff in it and hours later a great meal being all ready for you.

This time of the year I also love soup so when I came across this particular recipe for a crockpot soup I couldn't wait to make it! I am so glad I did, this came out delicious. The only thing I would suggest is using bigger than a 4.0 - 4.5 quart crockpot, I used mine and the soup came nearly to the top of it while cooking, and I feel this made the cook time longer than indicated in the recipe. Next time if I chose to do this full recipe again I would make it in my larger 5.5 quart crockpot instead. But, this was still delicious! I also made bread bowls as mentioned in the recipe. Nothing better than hearty soup & crusty bread!

Hearty Potato Soup

6 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 1/2 pounds)
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
Italian Bread Bowls
Garnish: fresh celery leaves

Combine first 8 ingredients in a 4 1/2-quart slow cooker.

Cook, covered, at HIGH 3 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Stir together flour and half-and-half; stir into soup. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve in Italian Bread Bowls, and garnish, if desired

Chicken Rollatini


I was watching the Food Network a couple of weeks ago when Robin Miller came on and made this delicious recipe. My husband and I love spinach and we LOVE goat cheese. This could not have been a better match!

For this recipe I used whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs for the first time. I had bought a cannister a couple of weeks ago when they were on sale and I had a coupon specifically for the whole wheat variety! Quite tasty actually, and aside from the color, one would never know they were whole wheat!

Chicken Rollatini with Ditalini


Cooking spray
2 pounds ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
8 ounces thinly sliced ham
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cook ditalini according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Arrange chicken breasts on a flat surface. Top each piece of chicken with ham. Mix together spinach and goat cheese and spread over ham. Starting from the shorter end, roll up chicken and secure with wooden picks. Brush mustard all over chicken rolls and then roll in bread crumbs.

Heat remaining oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken rolls and cook until golden brown on all sides.

Transfer chicken to oven and bake 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken with half of the ditalini. Reserve extra ditalini for another dish

Chicken, let me count the ways....


Chicken is the universal meat when you think about it. Everything "tastes like chicken." Chicken is most people's "go to" meal when faced with picky eaters. At weddings there is always an option for chicken as a meal. Chicken is a crowd pleaser so why is it so easy to get stuck in a rut when cooking it? Is it just me or does anyone else feel like you sometimes start relying on the same recipes, or same style of recipes when it comes to chicken? A few weeks ago I had bought a whole chicken on sale and didn't want to reach for my usual method of seasoning/marinating so I did a little searching on, which, by the way, has really become one of my favorite food websites to use. I found this recipe for Baked Curry Chicken. It called for a whole chicken cut up, but, I skipped that part and cooked the chicken whole making sure to make sure the marinade covered the bird well. The reviews on the website for this recipe were high on praise and I had to agree! The chicken came out so moist and very tasty. Most importantly it was different from my usual whole chicken recipe. I later made chicken stock from the bones and with some of that leftover marinade added in to flavor it. Delicious! Baked Curry Chicken (from 1/2 cup honey 1/4 cup butter, melted 1/4 cup yellow mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb.) whole chicken, cut up Stir together first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish until blended. Dip chicken in honey mixture, 1 piece at a time, thoroughly coating all sides. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer in a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; pour remaining honey mixture over chicken. Bake at 375° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until done. [...]



A few weeks back I was watching an episode of "Grill It!" with Bobby Flay. I love Bobby Flay with his unique flavor offerings and combinations but ironically this time the recipe that caught my attention the most was one for a Rose Sangria Spritzer.

My sister-in-law was coming over later that week and we were going to have some girlie time together. I had planned on grilling some pizzas for dinner and thought this sangria would be a nice addition to our dinner since we both enjoy rose wine. There was really no way of going wrong.

We both loved this and it was so easy to make. I did not add club soda to it since it was optional and kept the recipe as is. Delicious! I knew Bobby would never steer me in a wrong direction!!

Rose Sangria Spritzer


2 bottles cold rose wine

1 green apple, thinly sliced

1 orange, halved and thinly sliced

1 pint fresh raspberries

Simple syrup, to taste

Ice cubes

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Club soda, cold, optional

Combine wine, apple, orange, raspberries in a pitcher, add simple syrup, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Serve over ice, garnish with mint and top with a few splashes of club soda, if desired.

This recipe should just be named....


FABULOUS!My friend Danielle of Make No Little Meals emailed me this recipe a couple weeks ago saying I HAD to try it. Right she was! If you are into the sweet/salty combo this is the recipe for you! I will make these again....and again....and again!Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars (from Food and Wine) 2 cups all-purpose flour 2. 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened 1 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup sugar 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract One 12-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips 1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles 1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on the 2 long ends. 2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light, 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chips and pretzels. 3. Spread the batter in the pan and top with the sprinkles. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden; the center will still be a little gooey. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely. 4. Run the tip of a knife around the side of the pan and lift the bar out using the parchment paper. Cut into 24 squares and serve. [...]

Our summer '09 potato side dish staple


This year I made my grilled potatoes time and time again as a side dish to meals. I've even served these to company! So I finally decided to write down the recipe and document it for the blog!!!The olive oil mixture is - in essence - what my mixture is for my breakfast homefries. But that's another recipe I need to write down one of these days.I actually got the idea for these potatoes after my aunt cooked some on the grill with some olive oil on them. I decided to take things one step further and, as Emeril would say, "kick things up a notch." They are so delicious and easy. Microwaving the potatoes in advance cuts down on the cook time on the grill so things don't overcook. But in my opinion, you want to get a little grilled crust on these - it's amazing what a great taste grilling can give any sort of food!I've made this recipe with white potatoes and red potatoes. There are merits to either type so I suggest them both equally if you are going to give these a try!Robin’s Grilled Potatoes 4 medium sized potatoes (I’ve done this with both white & red potatoes, comes out great with either type) 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons yellow mustard ¼ teaspoon black pepper Dash of salt ¼ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon garlic powder Scrub potatoes clean, leaving skin on. Pierce each potato several times with a fork and place in microwave for 5-8 minutes or until potatoes are nearly fully cooked (time in microwave will depend on the size & type of potato you use). Let potatoes cool down a bit. In the meantime, combine the remainder of ingredients in a small bowl. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise down the middle. Coat each potato generously in olive oil mixture, saving any remaining mixture. Let potatoes “marinate” with mixture on for 10-15 minutes. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place potatoes on grill, cut side down on grates for 3-4 minutes, then flip over (to skin side). While skin side is cooking, baste cut side of the potatoes with any remaining olive oil mixture. After 3-4 minutes, flip potatoes back over to cut side down on grill grates, baste skin side again if there is any remaining olive oil mixture. Close grill cover and cook for another 2-4 minutes until cut side of the potato is nice and crusty.[...]

Grilling season may be winding down...


...but we're still "getting our grill on."I watched Giada make this recipe on her show the week before last. It just sounded TOO good not to try, and also perfect timing. I'd just taken chicken breasts out of the freezer that morning to make in a couple of nights for dinner.We loved this BBQ sauce. I wish I had made extra so I could bottle it or something! It was delicious and I can't wait to try it on steak!Chicken or Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce (from For the Balsamic BBQ sauce: 1 cup balsamic vinegar 3/4 cup ketchup 1/3 cup brown sugar 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper For the chicken or steak: 4 pieces chicken (any combination of breast or leg-and-thigh pieces) or 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak Salt and freshly ground pepper For the BBQ sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes. For the chicken or steak: Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks. Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside. Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the BBQ sauce all over the top of the chicken. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.[...]

Kabob time!


This past Labor Day weekend we had some very good friends over for an afternoon/evening of fun. It was just a small crowd of us (5 people) and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and definitely do something on the grill. It may be September but we grill here well into October as long s the weather cooperates!I'd mentioned to my husband a couple weeks earlier how we hadn't done any kind of kabobs on the grill this season at all. When we made plans with our friends to come over this past weekend I looked at it as the perfect opportunity to have grilled kabobs. Any bigger of a crowd I'd question the amount of skewering time (I'd rather be socializing with our friends) but for that many people I could handle it!I decided to do beef and chicken, alternating with green peppers, yellow summer squash, tomatoes, and onions. They were a thing of beauty and I will eventually have some really fantastic pictures of them for you as our good friend Matt has gotten into photography the past few months and was kind enough to take some before and after pictures for me.I used two different marinades - a light one for the chicken, tomatoes, and squash and a little bolder flavored one for the beef, onions and peppers. It was a nice mix when all of the food was together. So here are the respective marinades I used, both courtesy of Vegetable Kabobs(from 4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves 1/4 cup dry white wine 1/3 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon garlic powder 8 (8-inch) wooden or metal skewersCut chicken into 2- x 1-inch strips.Whisk together 1/4 cup white wine, orange juice, olive oil, and next 4 ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup for basting. Pour remaining marinade into a shallow dish or large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken strips. Cover or seal, and chill 2 hours, turning chicken occasionally.Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.Thread chicken and vegetables onto 8 (8-inch) skewers.Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 15 to 20 minutes or until done, turning occasionally and basting with reserved marinade.Marinated Beef Kabobs with Vegetables(from 1 cup white wine vinegar 1 cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon dried rosemary 1 tablespoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 garlic cloves, pressed 1 (3 1/2-pound) eye of round roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes 12 small whole onions 1 pound large whole mushrooms 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch piecesStir together first 10 ingredients; reserve 1/2 cup marinade, and chill. Pour remaining marinade into a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add meat cubes; seal and chill 8 hours. Drain, discarding marinade.Thread meat and vegetables onto 12-inch skewers.Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 16 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning often[...]

Way behind, once again


Well I'm just going to stop apologizing and just admit that yes, I made this recipe well over a month ago and am only blogging about it now....

This was a recipe shared by one of the lovely ladies on my Nest board. The ingredients sounded unique and I wasn't sold on it until one of the other ladies tried the recipe and LOVED it. Between a rave review and my curiousity I just had to try this.

And let me just say, I am SO glad I did! This is one fabulous marinade. My pork chops came out so juicy and tender and flavorful! Anyone who did not know the contents of the marinade would never guess coffee and molasses were two of the key ingredients! I highly recommend this one!

Molasses-Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

1 Cup cooled strong coffee
6 Ounces molasses
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Cloves minced garlic
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
6 sprigs - 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
4 (1" thick each) bone in pork chop

Place all of the ingredients into a 1 gallon zip top bag, seal, and shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil gently, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/2 cup liquid, 12-15 minutes. Remove the thyme stems after the glaze has reduced.

Meanwhile, grill pork chops 3-4 minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Allow the pork chops to rest 4-5 minutes before serving with the glaze.

Warning: Crazy lady baking in 90+ degree weather


Yeah. That would be me.

I don't know what came over me the other day. We have had quite an odd summer in New England, a lot of rain, and the typical hot humid summer days only really began coming with frequency the past two weeks or so.

So the hot weather is finally here, we are struggling to keep our 1st floor of the house cool with one window a/c unit and what do I decide I would like to do? You got it: bake a batch of cookies!

In my defense, I only baked half a batch so it was 1 pan and done. Also I threw these right in when I started to preheat and adjusted the cooking time slightly to make up for it (it really was not a huge adjustment either). The urge could not be controlled and I'm glad it couldn't because these suckers came out GREAT!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. About 4 dozen.

BAR VARIATION: Spread batter into lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars. About 3 dozen bars.

Bacon? Did you say bacon?


I just mentioned in my previous post that last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. Her boyfriend LOVES bacon, and, for the record - so does my husband. He says I don't make enough bacon. I, on the other hand, can take or leave bacon so he's probably right that I don't make it enough!

When I decided on a BBQ themed dinner, I thought cornbread was in order but then I thought about how to incorporate bacon into the meal as well. The beans in my previous post took care of that to an extent, but I figured I'd search for a bacon cornbread recipe just to mix things up. Lo and behold I found this incredibly quick & easy recipe which was a hit. Between the 4 of us all but 1 piece was eaten by the end of the night!

Cheese & Bacon Cornbread

1 package corn muffin mix (i.e., Jiffy)
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
6 slices crisply cooked and crumbled bacon
1 egg
Milk, as label directs

Empty corn muffin mix into a medium mixing bowl. Save about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese and bacon for topping; stir remaining cheese and bacon into muffin mix. Mis in egg and milk, following label directions.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes; sprinkle reserved cheese and bacon over top and bake 10 minutes longer, or until cornbread browned and firm.

Yes. I'm a slacker.


At least I admit it!!!

Summer 2009 has been a fairly busy one, not as busy as last summer when I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, a matron of honor in another - that meant 3 bridal showers, 2 bachelorette parties, 3 rehearsal nights. Oh and did I mention there were 3 baby showers last summer too?

This summer has been decidedly more quiet as far as "big events" like those go, but we've been consistently busy on the weekends. I've been sticking to a lot of tried and true recipes and other meals I just know how to make, but I have been trying new things here and there. The frequency of new recipes though, has definitely decreased as we've been on a tighter budget. I love to cook and bake, but it can get pricey. But make no mistake about it - I still love to cook and bake, I'm just trying to do it more frugally than before!

Anyway that's enough of my ramblings - now onto the recipe! Last week we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. I made a BBQ themed dinner - pulled pork, corn on the cob, cornbread, and baked beans.

The baked bean recipe below is a great "shortcut" recipe. It uses canned beans rather than dried ones which cuts down on a lot of prep time, and for the most part includes a lot of "run of the mill" ingredients you probably have in your house already. I left out the chipotle in this recipe and I know that probably takes out the "blazin'" part of this recipe. But it was a great recipe nonetheless!

Blazin' Baked Beans

1/4 pound finely diced bacon slices (raw)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
5 (16-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (18-ounce) jar low-sodium barbecue sauce
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan, and set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes.
Combine bacon, onion, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon the bean mixture into a 13 x 9-inch or 2 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Hamming it up!!


I'm beginning to realize I'm pretty behind on blogging about recipes these days.

This is one I made, well, over a month ago! I had bought a small ham at the market at a great price. Ham's not something I really think to cook unless it's a holiday or special occasion but this little guy was good for a nice meal for my husband & I and enough for some yummy leftovers. We love leftovers here at this house!

Anyway I'm leaving this recipe in tact with the original measurements. Obviously I scaled it down since my ham was not that large. This was a fantastic recipe - so flavorful, easy to make, and the ham was so moist when it came out of the oven. It's a definite keeper!

Fresh Baked Ham with Whisky and Cola Glaze

1 (8-pound) fresh ham (shank and leg of pork)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Whole cloves
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whisky
4 cups cola drink
Wild Pecan Rice, Bacon, and Tasso Dressing, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, puncture and score the skin of the ham, making parallel 1/2-inch-deep incisions. Turn the ham and score again to make a grid-like pattern.

In a small bowl combine the salt, Essence, pepper, and cayenne. Rub evenly all over the ham. Place the ham, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan. Place 1 clove where the lines intersect on the ham. Rub the sugar evenly over the ham, pressing to pack. Pour 2 cups of cola into the bottom of the roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. In a container, combine the whisky and the remaining 2 cups of cola.

Baste the ham with the whiskey and cola and continue to bake, basting every 15 minutes with the whisky and coke mixture and pan juices, until the ham is cooked through, the skin is crisp and dark, and a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and let rest at least 20 minutes before carving. To serve, slice the meat thinly across the grain and arrange on a platter.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

* 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
* 2 tablespoons salt
* 2 tablespoons garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon onion powder
* 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
* 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
* 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Steak - it's what was for dinner


I don't buy a lot of steak here, typically because it's pricier and also because red meat isn't the healthiest thing out there. But every now and again when it's on sale I'll buy us some nice hearty steaks.

Given that it's the summer time I of course wanted to grill these and am always looking for a new marinade recipe to try. This is an Applebee's copycat recipe that I do have to say came out great. The only thing I would change next time is to marinate it a bit longer. I had it marinating about 5 hours and I think I'd prefer to do it at least 8 hours or even overnight just so the steaks soaked up more of that delicious flavor.

Applebee’s Bourbon Street Steak

1/2 Cup steak sauce
1/4 Cup bourbon whiskey
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Teaspoon mustard
4 (10 oz. each) steak

Combine all the ingredients except the steaks in a baking dish or resealable plastic storage bag; mix well. Add the steaks; cover (or seal) and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium−high heat. Grill the steaks for 12-15 minutes, or until desired doneness, turning them over halfway through the grilling.

S'more please!!!


As many of us do at this time of year, we had multiple 4th of July cookouts to hit this past weekend. I always like to have something in hand to bring from house to house and usually it is something in a dessert form because, well, dessert is one of the major food groups. Right?

My friend Cathy actually had made these a few weeks back and I had fallen in love with these while at her house one day. That's when I realized it was the perfect dessert to bring to one of the cookouts!

We were not there at the end of the night, however, I was told the last piece of this dessert was fodder for bickering over who would get it. Ha!

Warm Toasted Marshmallow S'more Bars

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz) (I used semi-sweet here)
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13x9-inch pan.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

An old standby


Here's an old standby recipe I made recently that I've made several times by now because it's just so darn easy and a nice twist on a typical from-the-box brownie.

I don't know where the recipe originated as it was given to me by a friend a few years ago, however, I have seen it in several different variations on different websites since, like

And sorry, no picture again. I'm beginning to feel like the reason I am not taking pictures is that I have an inferiority complex. Some of you take amazing food pictures and I'm probably a bit envious of that!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 Package brownie mix
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoon water
1 egg
20 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine brownie mix, oil, water, and egg in large bowl. Stir 50 strokes w/ a spoon.

Place paper cupcake cups in pan. Fill each cup to about 3/4 full. Then place peanut butter cup in center of each cupcake. Bake 30-35 minutes. Let peanut butter cup cool and re-harden before serving.