Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spiced Orange Hot Cocoa

My son Dylan LOVES hot cocoa. He LIVES for it! We love this recipe and wanted to share it with you and your families.

1 cup Confectioners Sugar
1/4 tsp of cardamom
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
6 cups of milk
1/2 tsp of orange zest
1 cup of whipped cream

Stir confectioners sugar, cardamom, and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Bring the 6 cups of milk to simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until smooth.
Fold orange zest into whipped cream.
Devide the cocoa into 6 coffee mugs. Top with the whipped cream!


The Perfect Bacon

Okay, so most of you cook bacon the old fashion way.. In a skillet on the stove top. But in my experience it is not only messy, it doesn't cook it evenly and it tends to over cook. plus Bacon isn't cheap! So you don't want to waste or ruin it.

So here's a recipe cooked in the oven. It's perfectly cooked and tastes the best!

Prep Ingredients:
1 package of Bacon - I buy the pepper
Cut, thick sliced
Cookie sheet or jelly roll pan

Okay... First things first. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Make sure your rack is in the middle. Line your pan with foil. Bacon is messy so an easy clean up is always preferred! Now line your strips of bacon up on the pan. Close together is okay, bacon tends to shrink and curl anyhow.

Now place Your bacon in the preheated oven and cook for 12 minutes, flipping slices half way.

There you have it folks! Deliciously perfect bacon! ENJOY!

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Have tons on leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving do ya? I did so for breakfast this morning I made potato pancakes.

2 cups of mashed potatoes (warm them so it's easier to whisk)
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

In mixing bowl, mix milk, egg, flour and salt and pepper. Whisk well. Add warm mashed potatoes and whisk for at least 3 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp of salted butter over medium high heat until melted and evenly distributed in the pan. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out potato mixture on pan. Cook on each side about 3 minutes each. DO NOT over turn. They will break up. Another alternative is frying in bacon grease for you non healthy folks.

BAM! This recipe makes about 6-8 pancakes, so double if you dare!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Can't wait to cozy up and read through this magazine! Perfect to pair with a margarita!

Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Looking for something to spruce up that left over turkey? Here's a yummy recipe that is sure to put a smile on your face!

5 slices of bacon
1 small onion chopped
2 tbsp of flour
1 3/4 cup of milk
1 3/4 cup of chicken broth
Kosher salt and pepper
4 thick slices of bread, toasted
1 1/4 grated muenster or monterey jack cheese
Dijon or spicy mustard for spreading
1 tomato, sliced
3 cups of sliced or shredded turkey
1/4 cup of fresh chopped Parsley

Preheat the broiler. Cook bacon over med-high head in deep skillet. About 10 mins or so. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Make the Gravy: add onion to the skillet, cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 mins until soft. Add flour and cook stirring, 1 more minute. Increase the heat to med high, add milk, chicken broth, and brig to boil... Stirring occasionally. Reduce head to medium low and simmer,stirring, until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange bread in baking sheet. Sprea each slice with mustard, drizzle some gravy and top with a tomato slice. Toss turkey in remaining gravy in the skillet. Divide turkey on each slice, evenly among slices. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Broil until golden, about 2 minutes. Crumble bacon over the sandwiches and sprinkle with parsley.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thats a wrap!

Whoa! What a day! I hope your Thanksgiving was extra special and as fab as mine was! The weather was AMAZING, sunny and 68 degrees!
Well, it all started with a early wake up call @ 5:30AM thanks to me forgetting my own alarm clock was still on... Thanks to my amazing fiancé for rescuing me from early morning baby and letting me sleep a tad longer. My day was filled with laughter, whining, barking and complaining. Which is pretty typical. Although the "I love yous" were extra special today!
After my favorite cup of joe, I was up and ready to prepare my Thanksgiving feast. Turkey was thawed, and ready to rub and get in the oven. I made our dessert first - Apple Pie with Apple Crumble Cinnamon topping and lets just say the aroma made me want a slice right then @ 9:30am!
Next came the turkey... In the oven and ready to roast! Yummy!
I made some apps for snacking midday. Left over buffalo chicken dip warmed up nicely!
I made homemade smashed creamy mashed potatoes, and I would lie if I didn't admit I complained the WHOLE
TIME I peeled potatoes. Garrett watched in amazement while I peeled, sliced and was the first to try them (per-spiced of course) and loved them!
Made the White Castle stuffing and it was AWESOME! I added garlic to mine and heated butter, about 1/2 a stick of salted butter, in my Dutch oven and let it get crispy and then simmer. Dylan loved it! Gravy was superb, rolls were sweet and all and all I did a great job I think!
I was the last to get out of my PJ's, and first to put them back on. It was fantastic.
Even Zed, our four legged family member, enjoyed his dinner with turkey and drippings. Pretty sure he licked his dish clean and was carrying it around hoping for seconds.
Now it's snuggle time and a movie! Only thing missing is a fire... Just isn't cold enough tonight.
Season's Greetings to all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

What's for dinner tonight for your family on Thanksgiving Eve? I'm making apps which Includes out favorite Buffalo Chicken Dip! Check for the recipe in my Awesome Appetizers section!

Where do I get one of these?

Starbucks Coffee

One of my ultimate guilty pleasures is Starbucks Coffee. Yum! Pretty excited now that I can now purchase Starbucks K-Cups!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Garrett LOVES sweet potatoes!

Mommy, I want sweet potato purée for Thanksgiving with a side of rice cereal.

What I am thankful for...

Okay so many of us are wrapping up our menus and cooking plans, scheduling whose house we go to first, where were eating or what we are prepping the night before, or what pizza places are open - the next 24 hours is going to be a crazy one.

Each year I go to my parents to celebrate. Like I posted earlier this month, we follow traditions I REALLY look forward to each year! Yummy foods, great wine and lots of laughter.

Well this year is a first to mark on my family's calendar. My family and I are staying HOME this year. WHAT??? I know your mouth dropped reading this as you think of how crazy the day is going to be for you. Well my folks and a few others packed up the car and headed to visit my Grandparents this year.

What's my plans then?? Thought you never ask.
I'm sleeping in, I'm not getting out of my pajamas but I promised Dylan I'd at least brush my teeth, you know so my breath don't stank!
What's on my menu?? The past week or so I dreamed of steak and crab legs and maybe shrimp cocktail to tie things together. Yum right?! Well then here comes good ole' holiday guilt trip from yours truly saying "Embrace this". So I plan to roast my turkey the good old' fashion way, smash up some delicious potatoes, make white castle stuffing, open up a can of that jelled-like can shape cranberry sauce that I still favor Over homemade and dip my fork in a baked apple pie. And last but not least, drink plenty of wine!
SO.... This year I am most thankful for a PJ THANKSGIVING - our VERY first Thanksgiving in our new home. One to remember.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Fall brings a ton of wonderful things - 3 out of 4 of our birthdays, Halloween, Beautiful autumn landscape, Thanksgiving, etc. But one of my
Guiltiest pleasures in pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. That is until Green mountain came out with their own K-Cup Style. YUM. I'll save my 5.49 per latte and brew it at home! Guilty Pleasure? Yep!

Got Provel?

I'm in LOVE with this cheese! It's a St Louis thing. We put this on pizza, subs, garlic bread, Mac n cheese, crackers, in our mouths LOL, etc.

Guilty pleasure, yes please.

Cheese Fries

One of my guilty pleasures is cheese fries. Don't judge me.

Not the Normal White Russian

I love white russians... I am a big fan, and decided to change it up and came out with better results. So I hope you enjoy!

Jess's White Russians

1 part vodka
1 part Kaluha
1 part Bailey's
1 part Milk or Half & Half
Splash of Dr. Pepper

In a mixer full of ice, add the ingredients above minus the Dr. Pepper. Shake well. Pour with ice in pint glass and top off with Dr. Pepper.

AMAZING, isn't it? You're welcome.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

While my sister Ginger was visiting she made these delicious mouth watering individual cakes that were to die for! So delicious. Yes, we actually had them for dinner one night. Dylan thought that was so cool! This is an easy and simple dessert that you will impress your friends with. Especially when they take their fork and cut into this warm chocolate deliciousness and the center oozes out onto their plate.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Non Stick Spray
Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray w/the non-stick spray the 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Beat in the chocolate (do not overmix). Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until the tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 12-14 minutes (depending on your oven). Remove from the oven; let stand for 10 minutes.
  4. To serve, turn out the cakes, and place on the serving plates, top sides up. Dust with powdered sugar.
  5. Serve with either whipped cream or ice cream.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This tangy, creamy dip tastes just like buffalo chicken wings. It's best served hot with tortilla chips, crackers and Celery sticks. Everyone loves this! Especially my Dad who will request every time I offer to bring an appetizer for any occasion (or even when I don’t offer).
  • 2 LARGE cans chunk chicken, drained
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®)
  • 1 bag of shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla Chips
  1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in cheddar cheese slowly. Simmer for a 15-20 minutes and you are done!

Brown Sugar Smokies

These are delicious, but who am i kidding... YOU HAVE TO KNOW THESE ARE DA BOMB!! For all you new foodies out there or old, here's the recipe. Perfect app for any holiday. Honestly, I just make these on occasion because I can!


  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 (16 ounce) package little smokie sausages

  • 1 cup brown sugar, or to taste OR MORE.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cut bacon into thirds and wrap each strip around a little sausage. Place the wrapped sausages on wooden skewers, several to a skewer. Arrange the skewers on a baking sheet and sprinkle them liberally with brown sugar.
  3. Bake until bacon is crisp and the brown sugar melted.

Kickin’ Cranberry Cosmo

Kickin’ Cranberry Cosmo


5 ounces diet cranberry juice drink (like Ocean Spray Diet)
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon lime juice
Optional: splash of diet lemon-lime soda (like Sprite Zero)
Optional garnish: lime slice
In a shaker filled with ice, combine juice drink, vodka, and lime juice. Shake it up and then strain into a large martini glass.
If you like, top with a splash of soda and garnish with a slice of lime. Enjoy!

Chilly Chocolate Mudslide

One 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix (like Swiss Miss Diet or Nestle Fat Free)
2 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda)
2 ounces light vanilla soymilk
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce sugar-free calorie-free white-chocolate-flavored or vanilla-flavored syrup (like Torani Sugar Free; often found in the coffee aisle)
1 teaspoon light chocolate syrup (like the kind by Hershey's)
1 cup crushed ice or 5 to 8 ice cubes
Optional topping: Fat Free Reddi-wip
In a glass, combine cocoa mix with 2 ounces hot water. Stir to dissolve. Add sweetener and 1 ounce cold water. Stir and then transfer to a blender.
Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until mixed and delicious-looking.
Pour and, if you like, top with a squirt of Reddi-wip!

Magical Low-Calorie Margarita

Magical Low-Calorie Margarita

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce lime juice
One 2-serving packet (about 1 teaspoon) sugar-free lemonade powdered drink mix (like Crystal Light)
6 ounces diet lemon-lime soda (like Sprite Zero)
Optional garnish: lime slice
Combine tequila, lime juice, and powdered drink mix in a glass. Stir to dissolve drink mix.
Add soda and stir, stir, stir. Pour into a margarita glass with lots of crushed ice. If you like, finish it off with a slice of lime on the rim of the glass. Time to enjoy!

Slammin' Slimmed-Down Strawberry Daiquiri

Slammin' Slimmed-Down Strawberry Daiquiri

One 2-serving packet (about 1 teaspoon) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (like Crystal Light Wild Strawberry)
1 1/2 ounces rum
3 frozen unsweetened strawberries, slightly thawed
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 cup crushed ice or 5 to 8 ice cubes
Combine drink mix with 4 ounces cold water in a glass and stir to dissolve. Transfer to a blender.
Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until slushy and uniform.
Pour, add a straw, and slurp that baby up!

Tip! Feel free to experiment with whatever strawberry-blend drink mixes you find on shelves. Strawberry kiwi, strawberry banana, strawberry tangerine...

Kickin' Key Lime Pie Martini

1 1/2 ounces lime vodka
1 ounce sugar-free calorie-free vanilla-flavored syrup (like Torani Sugar Free; often found in the coffee aisle)
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon Cool Whip Free, thawed
Optional garnish: lime slice
Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir until smooth. Transfer to a shaker filled with ice.
Shake thoroughly and then strain into a large martini glass. If you like, finish it off with a slice of lime on the rim of the glass. Enjoy!

My Famous pasta sauce recipe

My Famous pasta sauce recipe

2 - #5 cans of Tomato Juice (LARGE SIZE)
2 - 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
4 - 15 oz cans of diced tomato
2 - 6 oz cans of tomato paste
3 -5 lbs of Beef short ribs or beef bones with fat.
2 large onions or 3 medium onions, diced

2 T Salt
2 T Sugar
2 T Lawrys
1 T Black Pepper
1 T Minced Garlic
2-4 T Sweet Basil
2-4 T of Rosemary or 2-3 fresh sprigs
8-10 Leaves of Fresh Basil
5-10 Whole Bay leaves
4-6 T Parsley flakes
1 t -T Oregano
1-2 T Fennel

Notes: I use this recipe as a baseline for "my" sauce. I have changed things up a little bit, I feel
Like it is a better sauce all the way around.
Tips: Never buy the off brand! It screws with the flavor. I usually buy Campbells tom juice, and
huntsor S&W. The grocery stores around here never seem to have beef bones. I found an
alternate that makes the sauce AMAZING (beef short ribs). Plus, they are amazing to eat
with dinner too!
I recommend using ribs.

I like my sauce with chunks of tomato, medium consistency and full of flavor. If you love spices,
like me, then follow the higher quantities.

If you like thinner sauce, smaller chunks, then modify accordingly. Add some water, and use
petite diced tomatoes (or dice yourself), and follow the lower quantities. Bigger the stock pots
the better;

I always barely have enough room to cook everything!

Brown the beef ribs on all 4 sides really well in a non-stick pan. While the beef is cooking on med-high heat, start working on the sauce.
Start with high heat. In a 8-10 qt stock pot, add tomato juice, sauce, and tomatoes & onions.
Then start adding in all the spices.
Once the sauce is warm, add paste to help thicken the sauce. Best way: take approx 4 cups from pot, put it in a bowl, add paste, whisk it until paste is blended, then add it back to the pot.
Once beef is brown on all four sides, add it to the stock pot.

Let the sauce simmer for at least 1 hr before eating. Of course it is better if you let it simmer for 3-4 before eating. Once finished cooking, remove pot from fire, let it cool. Refridgerate overnight, eat again the next day. It is ALWAYS better! Sauce freezes well. Freeze what you will not eat. For me, I usually freeze 3/4 gal -1 gal in 2-3 containers.

Mom’s Sausage Ball Recipe

It’s a tradition in my family that each year on Christmas morning we gather around the tree opening gifts and enjoying Mom’s Sausage balls. I don’t remember a Christmas where we didn’t have these! These are delicious and super easy to make. Now as we are adults, we pair them nicely with mimmosa’s.

Mom’s Sausage Ball Recipe

1 lb. hot sausage
1 lb. mild sausage
12 oz. sharp cheese (softened)
12 oz. mellow cheese (softened)
4 cups Bisquick

Mix all ingredients. Roll into small balls. Place on cookie sheets.
Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, or until done (depends upon the size).
Best served warm.

Stuffed Cabbage Stoup

Yum! I'm in love with recipe probably as much as I love the real thing. My mom made cabbage rolls growing up and this is like a taste of her meal in one pot!

TIP- I don't add the rice like in her directions. I put a scoop of it in each bowl. Rice absorbs moisture and the stoup doesn't reheat well.

Stuffed Cabbage Stoup

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray


4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup raw white rice
1 quart plus 2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground meatloaf mix (a combination of beef, pork and veal)
1/2 teaspoon allspice, eyeball it in your palm
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, half a palm full
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, eyeball it in your palm
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler into strips then finely chopped
1/2-3/4 head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

Heat a sauce pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the rice and toss to coat in oil. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, bring up to a simmer, cover and cook for 16 to 18 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Add the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, once hot add meat and begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the meat with allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add bay leaf, onions, garlic and carrots. Cook veggies 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften them, then add cabbage and wilt it down a bit. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and remaining stock and cover the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, add to the soup and continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and dill, adjust salt and pepper to your taste, and serve.

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

Here's a delicious stuffed pepper recipe that's easy to make. Each green bell pepper contains ground beef, onion, tomatoes, rice and cheese, and is cooked in tomato sauce.


6 green bell peppers
2 garlic cloves - minced
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Garlic Pepper (Durkee makes this spice)
1 24oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 24 oz can of Tomato Sauce
1 15oz can of tomato sauce

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt inside each pepper, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, sauté beef, garlic and onions for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper and garlic pepper. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, rice, 1/2 cup water and Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). In baking dish, add the 15oz can of tomato sauce to the bottom for peppers to sit on. Stuff each pepper with the beef and rice mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. Pour tomato Sauce over the peppers (Leave ½ of the big can for after baking and left overs).
4. Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Mom’s Vegetable Soup

I get super excited when the winter rolls around bc I love comfort food! Soups, Chilis, Stoups....

Here's a delicious soup that's easy to make and perfect for a weekend dinner. My mom passed this to me and I love it!

Mom’s Vegetable Soup


1 Family size can & 1 small can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1lb Beef Stew Meat – cut into smaller pieces
1 bag frozen Corn
1 bag frozen cut green beans
1 bag frozen okra
1 bag frozen Lima Beans
½ bag frozen peas
1 small head of cabbage – cut
2 cans of Diced Tomatoes (I buy Rotel for spicy!)
Salt & Pepper
2-3 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, minced

In a large Dutch Oven or Stock Pot – put meat in and fill pot up about 1/3 to ½ way with water. Put on medium high head and cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally – LID ON.

Skim all foam from meat and dispose. Add Cabbage and palm size of Salt and Pepper and garlic. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – LID ON.

Add Tomato Soup, diced tomatoes and green beans. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – LID ON.

Add Lima Beans. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – LID ON.

Add Corn and Okra. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally LID ON.

Add ½ of the bag of peas. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, no lid.

Serve Hot. Salt and Pepper to taste.

I usually taste mine to make sure the veggies are cooked throughout. You may want to let it simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour depending on your range.


Sausage Cups

These are fantastic! I tore this recipe out of a cooking magazine some odd years ago and make these for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Cocktail parties, etc an they are always a big hit.
Thank you Bob Evans!

Sausage Cups

Won Ton wrappers hold a delicious combination of sausage, cheese and ranch dressing.

•1 pound Bob Evans Original Recipe Sausage Roll
•1 package Won Ton Wrappers
•1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
•1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
•1/2 cup Ranch Dressing

Preheat oven to 350F. Crumble sausage into medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Drain sausage. Spray mini muffin tins and insert won ton wrappers to form a small cup. Bake 5 minutes in preheated oven. Allow wrappers to cool. Mix sausage, cheeses and ranch dressing together. Fill won ton wrappers. Bake for 10 minutes or until bubbly.

TIP: Won Ton Wrappers are found in the produce aisles, around the Asian veggies.

White Castle Turkey Stuffing

When it comes to stuffing, I want it easy, simple and good. I only make it once a year and so why waste hours of prep on it when this oh so yummy!!!! Thank you White Castles!

I normally buy these ahead of time. May want to grab a few extra if your like me and love to eat them. HA!

White Castle Turkey Stuffing

10 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
3/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10- to 12-pound turkey).

Note: Allow 1 hamburger for each pound of turkey, which will be the equivalent of 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound.

Classic Roast Turkey

Classic roast turkey and Classic turkey stuffing. It's made it easy and foolproof! I love turkey but I have so many things to prepare that this is not complicated and sure to tickle your taste buds!

I added the stuffing recipe as well, but we are an out-of-turkey-stuffing-cooking kind of family!

Bread Stuffing:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
8 cups dry bread cubes (about 11 slices bread)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, if desired
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning or dried sage leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
About 1/2 cup Progresso® chicken broth (from 32-oz carton) or water

1 whole turkey (14 to 18 lb), thawed if frozen
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 325°F. In 10-inch skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
2. In large bowl, mix bread cubes, parsley, poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add broth and butter-onion mixture, stirring until desired moistness (stuffing will become a little more moist during roasting because it absorbs juices from turkey). Set aside. (Stuff turkey just before roasting).
3. Remove and discard neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle cavity of turkey with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
4. Spoon stuffing loosely into neck cavity; turn wings back to hold neck skin in place, or fasten neck skin to back with skewers. Spoon stuffing into body cavity; refasten drumsticks with metal piece or tuck under skin at tail. (Drumsticks can also be tied together with cotton string.)
5. After stuffing turkey, place any remaining stuffing in 1- or 2-quart casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover and refrigerate. Bake stuffing in casserole dish with turkey at 325°F for last 35 to 40 minutes of roasting time or until thoroughly heated (165°F).
6. Place turkey, breast side up, in roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of inside thigh and does not touch bone. Brush 3 tablespoons melted butter over turkey. Do not add water or cover turkey.
7. Roast uncovered 4 hours or until thermometer reads 165°F and drumsticks move easily when lifted or twisted. Thermometer inserted in center of stuffing should read 165°F. If necessary, cover turkey breast with tent of heavy-duty foil during last 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours of baking to prevent excessive browning.
8. Let turkey stand 15 to 20 minutes for easier carving. Remove skewers. Remove stuffing; place in serving bowl.

Fresh Basil Wrapped Cheese Balls

Three kinds of cheese wrapped in fresh basil leaves make a wonderful cheese ball appetizer recipe in just 45 minutes! Great paired with cherry tomatoes!

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon pepper
24 fresh basil leaves (2 to 2 1/2 inches long)

1 In small bowl, mix cheeses and pepper until blended. Cover; refrigerate about 30 minutes or until firm enough to shape into balls.
2 For each appetizer, shape 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese mixture into a ball; roll slightly to form an oval, about 1 inch long. Place on wide end of basil leaf; roll up. Roll leaf and cheese between fingers to form an oval. Repeat with remaining cheese mixture and basil leaves.
3 Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate no longer than 24 hours.

Tip: Four ounces of mozzarella, softened, can be substituted for the mascarpone.

If the basil leaves are not the correct size, just chop them and roll the cheese balls in them rather than covering each ball with a whole leaf

30 Minute Chili

Chili is one of our favorite things to experiment with. Kind of like the gift that keeps on giving, LOL. So this past Sunday I decided to try new techniques then just dumping a bunch of ingredients in a pot. This was AMAZING. Sweet, savory and spicy all in one pot. Best part was, it was super easy to prepare. If you are an onion lover, I would use 3 onions vs. the one I used. I am just the biggest wimp when it comes to cutting them and can’t get through one onion without my makeup running down my face and my eyes burning. How do you crazy onion people do this? Anyhow, enjoy this delicious chili, courtesy of yours truly. Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes to make!


1 tablespoon EVVO
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small can (6 ounces) tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped or diced canned chilies
2 tablespoons of garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 pounds ground beef chuck (I buy the roped chuck, good for chili)
3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
1 bottle (12 ounces) mild lager beer ( I used Fat Tire dark lager with a chocolate taste to it)
3 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of sweet corn
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Hot Sauce to taste


1. In a Dutch oven or large (5-quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes – they should be a golden caramel color.

2. Add tomato paste, chili powder, chilies, garlic pepper, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes give or take.

3. Add tomatoes with their juice, beer, corn and beans. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook over medium heat until chili has thickened slightly and beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Bon appetite! Doesn’t this just look amazing?! Don’t forget the Frito’s!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oven Roasted Chicken Wings

We are huge chicken wing lovers! We are a perfect match too bc he loves drummers and I love wings!

I have a fantastic way of oven roasting wings and wanted to share with my peeps! I normally cook this for dinner and serve with perogies!


Bag of chicken wing and drummers mix (frozen or fresh, no seasoning)
Garlic pepper
Choulua Hot Seasoning
Garlic powder
Chicken grilling seasoning
Franks Red Hot Sauce (buffalo Wing is my favorite!) - for eating!
Roasting bag - FOR OVEN USE.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In the oven safe roasting bag put in the desired amount of wings. Add seasoning to your liking and close. Shake really well so each wing has enough seasoning.

Place in square baking dish so that the majority of the wings are flat on dish, pan whatever IN BAG and cook for 35 mins, Turning bag over occasionally.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before opening bag. CAUTION: STEAM!

Preheat oven on Broiler at your highest heat setting.

Spray jelly roll pan and place wings on pan and put in the oven for an additional 20 mins give or take, so the wings are crunchy and have a nice color. Turning occasionally. I flip the wings in more seasoning beforehand!

Serve your favorite sauce on side and enjoy!

Finger liking good aren't they???!!! You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Yum! Holiday cocktails are as much fun to experiment with as they are to consume...

Here's a cocktail that tastes just like a Gingersnap cookie!


1 oz domain de canton ginger liqueur
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Cinnamon stick

In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients. Shake Well. Strain into martini glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crockpot Pulled Pork

This is delicious and super easy to prepare for all you crockpot cookers out there!

3-4 pound boneless pork loin
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of vinegar
1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2-4 cloves of fresh garlic


Place pork loin in crock pot. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour over pork. Cook 10 hours on low heat (or about 6 hours over high heat). I suggest cooking on low heat.

When you remove the pork from pot it will shred easily with a fork. Serve as is with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side.

I usually pour the contents of the pot in a blender along with whatever barbecue sauce I have on hand and blend well. About 2 cups of juice and 2 cups of sauce.

Enjoy! Serve with dollar rolls, buns or just eat as is. Who needs bread anyways!!

Green Beans with Ham Seasoning

I love the smell of green beans simmering with ham in my kitchen.
This is a dish we always had for growing up and I love to continue the tradition with my family. It's simple and yummy!

5 cans of Cut Green Beans (Do not drain)
1/3 a package of Burgers Brand sliced ham seasoning (you can find this by the bacon)
2 tbsp of Garlic pepper
1 large Garlic clove cut up
Pinc of coarse salt

Pretty simple! Throw all ingredients I a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on Low, stirring occasionally until liquid is almost gone.


You can make this in advance which is great for any holiday cooking and throw them in a crock pot on low for several hours the day of.

Double the recipe for a holiday meal. This amount above is just right for about 6 people.

Roasting Vegetables

Love the taste of homemade roasted veggies? Whatever your favorite ones are (I love them all) it's super simple to do!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Toss your veggies in EVOO
Sprinkle coarse salt, pepper (Garlic pepper!!!) and some fresh garlic minced as place on a jelly roll pan. Roast in the oven for 25-30 mins rearranging occasionally.

What's a jelly roll pan? it's basically a cookie sheet with higher sides. THIS IS A MUST HAVE! Invest, Invest, Invest!

That was super easy right?? See you'll be amazed how easy cooking can be with a little bit of effort!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Perfect Pot Roast

"Pot Roast? What's so special about Pot Roast?" Words from my fiancé when I mentioned this was for dinner one Sunday. He apparently never had a GOOD pot roast so he stuck his nose up.

Now growing up, my mom made AMAZING pot roast! So good my mouth watered walking into the kitchen and smelling it from the oven.

As an adult my attempts, several attempts, failed. Over cooked EVERY TIME. I just couldn't do it and it drove me absolutely insane. Then after watching a food network show "Pioneer Woman" I just knew I had to make her recipe.

PERFECTO! It was so delicious that Justin was fighting me for the last of it. And can I add I also made her creamy mashed potatoes to go along side of this, yum.

So I'm sharing this amazing recipe with you because I hope everyone can cook this perfect pot roast!

■1 whole (4 To 5 Pounds) Chuck Roast
■2 Tbsp EVOO
■2 whole Onions (I use white)
■6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots), sliced or cheat and buy baby carrots like me
■Salt To Taste
■Pepper To Taste
■1 cup Red Wine
■2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock
■3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste
■3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste

Preparation Instructions
First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blue Cheese Spread

I love love love blue cheese! This is a delicious spread I make for hamburgers that we just can't get enough of!

We normally season our burgers with a "secret rub", so sorry you'll have to pick your own spices this time.

Now on with the spread!

1/2 a container of blue cheese crumbles
3-4 big spoonfuls of Dukes Mayo (DO NOT USE MIRACLE WHIP)
4 tbsp of Butter, softened
Garlic or Black Pepper
One clove of FRESH garlic, minced

In mixing bowl combine garlic, butter and mayo. Mix well. Add salt and pepper and blue cheese. Mix well. Now fork it! This releases the deliciousness, promise!

Now WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Slop it right on your burger. I'm a bun-less girl myself, but maybe throw a tomato and piece of lettuce on there.

Bon Appetite!

Garlic Parm Green Beans

So who's a fan out there of green beans?? ME! ME! But when I discovered a few years ago that Justin's love for vegetables, or lack there was, didn't match with mine I just knew I had to make them so he'd eat them! So here goes my delicious green beans that never seem to have leftovers...

1 bag of frozen WHOLE green beans
Fresh minced garlic, 2 lrg cloves
garlic or black pepper
Parmesan cheese

First things first - grab your deep frying pan and put about 4 turns of the pan on EVOO over med heat.
Mince garlic. Add to hot oil and stir frequently until garlic is golden brown. DO NOT WALK AWAY, it will burn and you will have to start all over again.
Add green beans, salt and pepper to your liking and one more turn of EVOO.

Turn heat to med-low and simmer until nice and hot and ready to eat - about 7 to 10 mins. I always test one to make sure.

Add Parmesan to garnish.

Cherish Dinner Time

There's something about that hour after cooking and setting the table to sitting with my family around the kitchen table. The laughter and stories and even the "Dylan, Eat" which is a common phase you'll hear if you were set a place at our table. To my left I see bright, intelligent, oh-so-handsome 8 year old son Dylan, that does more talking and sometimes complaining about something on his plate then actual eating. He is usually the last to finish. He shares school activities he endeavors daily and which girl likeser him at school. Across from me at my square glass table, which by no fault of my own, YES we own a glass table. It's almost never clean and is our next item on our REPLACE list. Anyhow, you'll see Justin, my wonderful soon to be husband. He is a hard worker, strong, caring, amazing man. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is my backbone in life. He is probably telling me how delicious the meal is and cracking a joke at us or laughing. His personality is what attracted me to him first, but it doesn't hurt that he is very easy on the eyes in the looks department. I'm one lucky girl. To my right you'll either see our newest addition Garrett, 4 months whose presence at the table happens more and more now, or an empty chair bc he's sleeping. He is normally cooing or raspberry-ing and watching us as we eat so curiously. This is the moment each day I sit back and think, wow, I am so lucky. This family is all mine. It's so easy to crowd around a tv with dinner plates these days that you forget how important dinner time actually is. Around the dinner table, in that moment every day, im reminded how lucky I am.

How to Convert Fresh Spices to Dry Spices

The general rule of thumb is: 1 teaspoon of dried = 1 tablespoon of fresh

Many recipes in cookbooks call for the use of fresh spices. Often it is the wrong time of year for fresh spices, or you just don't have the particular spice available and do not want to run to the market to buy it. Your best solution is to substitute dried spices in place of the fresh. Dried spices are more potent than their fresh counterpart so you will need to use less of the dried product.

1. Determine whether the dry spice you are going to use for your recipe is powdered or crushed. This information can be found on the label and is important to make the conversion from fresh to dry.

2. Measure 1/3 teaspoon of powered spices for every 1 tablespoon of fresh spices called for in the recipe.

3. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of crushed spices to substitute for every 1 tablespoon of fresh.

4. Taste the recipe as it cooks. Add small amounts, i.e., 1/8 teaspoon, of the crushed or powdered spice if the dish needs the additional flavor.

Garlic Pepper say what???

What is garlic pepper?

It’s amazing, taste amazing, seasons amazingly… all around we love it.

I prefer Durkee’s the most (Under Grilling Creations) and their website described it as this “This product lends both the flavor of garlic and black pepper while blending in aromatic onions and bell peppers. “

I say, well, it’s DA’BOMB!

Steak Kabobs, Grilled Potatoes and Grilled Tomatoes

Ahh, the Weber grill. Most people look forward to grilling when it’s a nice day, but honestly, it could be pouring down rain and Justin & I still have grilling on our mind. We love to grill veggies and steak, and why not kabobs here and there. This is yummy meal, sure to give your taste buds a thrill! Meat, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, what more could you ask for?

Steak Kabobs with Veggies

1-2lbs of boneless sirloin steak (or anything on sale, I sometimes buy the kabob cut steak at the market, and cut them in half) – cut in cubes
2 Red, yellow or orange peppers
Garlic Pepper
1 Lrg RED Onion
Kosher Salt
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
FRESH garlic, minced

First, let bamboo kabob sticks soak in water for at least 30 mins. If you use stainless, make sure to spray Pam or EVVO on them and let sit.
Now, cut your steak to your preferred cube size. Not too small though, you can always cut it later. Place in mixing bowl and drizzle with EVOO. Then add spices, salt and garlic pepper to your liking, minced garlic (FRESH!!!!!) and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. If using ground red pepper as a substitute only use about ¼ tsp. Cover and put in refrigerator for up to 4 hours.

Now, cut up your peppers and onions and drizzle a little EVOO, and salt and pepper. You are now ready to construct your kabobs. This part is self-explanatory. I like to mix it up when I make mine!

Grill, turning occasionally, until cooked to desired degree of doneness.

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes

Yummy!! Great side dish to any meal on the grill!! We cook ours in a foil pack and they are amazing.

1 bag of Fingerling Potatoes
Garlic Pepper
Olive Oil

Cut potatoes in half. Drizzle with EVOO and add spices. Make your foil bowl/pack complete with a cover and place on grill for 25-30, depending on doneness. Check occasionally.

Grilled Tomatoes

OH YUMMY! I can’t get enough of these on the grill. I swear I have stabbed justin’s hand a few times with my fork when he goes for the last one.

Pretty simple, buy the tomatoes you prefer, and cut them in half. You will need to coat with EVOO, salt, garlic pepper and place in a foil pack complete with lid.

These take maybe 7-10 mins on the grill, and are amazing. NON DIRECT HEAT, they will burn.

Sometimes we add pineapple or squash in for fun!

ENJOY!! Oh, you know what goes good with this meal? A Corona. Or 3.

Big Red

For a few years now I have dreamed of owning a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, but couldn’t afford it. $200+ for a pot is just nonrealistic for a family of 4. So to my surprise unwrapping my 28th birthday gift from my older sister Ginger was quite a surprise! There in the decorated Macy’s package, was my very own, very first enamel cast iron Dutch Oven Pot– Red (duh) made by Marta Stewart. My mouth dropped and like a kid in a candy store my mind was racing with “WHAT RECIPE FIRST??”. I couldn’t WAIT to start cooking in it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Martha Stewart’s line isn’t cheap either, but with free shipping at Macy’s and sale prices, you can get one for around $80. AND THE MONEY IS WELL SPENT. They also come with a limited lifetime warranty, should your pot develop any interior enamel damage. I’ve cooked in my pot now, umm probably over 200 times and I have almost had it a year. It gets more use in my kitchen then that deep frying pan who was my love in my pan/pot department before Big Red came along. Why did I wait so long?

You probably already know how indispensable a good Dutch oven can be, right? With it, I simmer my delicious pot roast, make braised dishes that start off on the stove and finish in the oven, delicious soups, stoups, stews and chili’s, and cook macaroni and cheese from scratch (just to name a few). The lid's knob is oven safe to 450 degrees, so there is no problem using it for bread-baking. Please, spend the money. The quality of the enamel is what you are paying for and if you go cheap, it won’t last long at all. Also, be sure you use utensils that won’t damage your pot or scratch the enamel at the bottom. I use wooden or my whisk, which wasn’t a cheap $1.99 whisk.

I'm sure there will be a Le Creuset in my kitchen someday, but until then my big red Martha Stewart pot will remain within easy reach.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Cream of Mushroom Chicken

Okay, honestly, show of hands who HASN'T had in some point of their life cream of mushroom soup chicken and rice? Most of the time its bland and the rice is cooked WITH it. Eww. So I decided what the hell, I'm going to do my own spin and it sure made my taste buds go crazy! It's easy, perfect for week nights and delicious... So here goes...


3-4 Split chicken breast, Bone-In
1 Family size can of Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of white wine, your favorite!
Rice, I prefer Jasmine
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp coarse salt
1/2 tbsp FRESHLY minced garlic
1/2 tbsp garlic pepper

Preheat oven to 375* degrees.
Rinse chicken, pay dry. Set aside.

In your Dutch oven pan (buy one yet? Because I cook almost everything in it FYI), over med-low heat whisk together soup, broth, and spices. Continue to whisk for about 3 minutes continuously. What?! Stop whinning and just do it. You'll thank me later. Now, after you whisk for 3 WHOLE MINUTES, add chicken and cover with salt. Garnish with a tad of salt, pepper, and paprika. Throw the lid on top and place in oven for 45 mins.

Rice - cook as directed. Buy a rice maker. It's easy to use, clean and the rice tastes WAY better. Don't use minute rice, okay. Let stand for 10 mins, lid on.

Now, pour yourself that glass of wine and relax. The hard part, if you'd call it that, is over. Dinner is served in 45 mins. You can now sit back and drink wine and smell the aroma coming from your kitchen.

And if you went out and bought a bottle of wine JUST for this recipe, you're welcome.

Oh, and guess what's for dinner tonight?

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Although I can’t take the credit for this MOUTH WATERING delicious mashed potatoes recipe, I can say they are approved by 75% of my family (25% being Garrett who hasn’t tried them yet). Even my 8 year old son Dylan who might I add HATES anything mashed, loves them. Please beware, these are in no way shape or form healthy and I am pretty sure the butter, cream cheese, and half and half goes directly to my you’know’what, but I have never in my life made homemade mashed potatoes that I want to constantly lick the spoon, bowl, plate, etc. I’m pretty sure a couple of times I double dipped, but who’s judging.

Recipe: Creamy Mashed Potatoes
By Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 10

■5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
■3/4 cups Butter
■1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
■1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
■1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
■1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Mmmm….creamy, steamy, flavorful, delicious mashed potatoes. They’re as much a part of Thanksgiving dinner as tryptophan and whiskey.

Go for it, guys!

Baked Kale Chips

Kale Fan? Yum. Kale is a fall vegetable and has amazing flavors. These are a low calorie nutritious snack. Like potato chips, you cannot stop at just eating one. They are great for parties and a good conversation topic. And lets be frank, they are DELICIOUS!

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon garlic pepper

1.Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner (if you are fancy enough to own one – still waiting for mine to just APPEAR in my kitchen) or pat dry with papertowels. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt and garlic pepper. I overuse the seasoning, I’m guilty of that.

3.Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Baked Spinach Chips

I received this recipe from my dear friend Michelle and let me say, it’s amazing. I changed pepper to garlic pepper because I HAD to, but can I say how delicious these are!

Baked Spinach Chips


One bag of baby spinach
Salt – Kosher or Sea Salt.
Herbs of your choosing (I tried basil, but experiment and see what you like!)
Garlic Pepper – I am your biggest fan!!!

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the spinach in a single layer on top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbs...
Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for around 7 minutes. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less. They should turn crispy and wafer thin. Carefully peel off the paper and enjoy – and as enjoy I mean, eat them all. Don’t share. Tell your kids, husband, whomever they won’t like them. It’ll be your little secret. HA HA!

Thanksgiving History and what it means to me

“The first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621.That first feast was a three day affair. Life for the early settlers was difficult. The fall harvest was time for celebration. It was also a time of prayer, thanking God for a good crop. The Pilgrims and the Indians created a huge feast including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest. This early celebration was the start of today's holiday celebration. Like then, we celebrate with a huge feast.”

Today, most of us enjoy Turkey with all those yummy trimmings. The "trimmings" in my family grew up include a wide variety of foods that are a tradition for our family. Mom worked hard in the kitchen with all of us girls helping by her side. Turkey or Prime Rib was the meat of choice, fixed with her famous green beans smothered in a ham hawk and slow cooked, brown sugar glazed carrots, mashed potatoes (the best way, HOMEMADE), 24-Hour Salad that was layered up the night before and mixed before serving (got to get her to let me post this recipe because it is AWESOME), olive and pickle tray complete with black and green olives (that my hands are in way before dinner is served) and dill and sweet pickles, homemade cranberry sauce and the can crap that me and my sisters loved so much, yeast rolls where common unless prime rib was served and we had Yorkshire pudding. Then, to top it off, pumpkin pies, apple pies, an even the occasional cherry pies are bountiful around our table. On occasion my Grandmother would serve her banana pudding with wafer cookies and the grin on my grandfather’s face when he scarfed his serving was priceless.

Did you know? Potatoes were not part of the first Thanksgiving. Irish immigrants had not yet brought them to North America. Poor things because potatoes in my household are common at most every meal!

Now, growing up with 3 older sisters, we had a large house hold. Mom was an amazing cook and always made sure our family sat at the table each night and enjoyed a home cooked meal. Thanksgiving was anything, but boring. Imagine my grandparents or other family members visiting, men watching football and the woman cooking in the kitchen. My dad however was always the meat guy. He really enjoyed taking part in the kitchen and his love for grilling in -0 Degree temps when snow is falling from the sky like a rainstorm was to top the charts.

I don’t think a holiday in my family home would have been complete without one of us girls arguing with the other, but the bonds we have as adults are worth it all. I have 3 very unique sisters and would trade any of them for the world.

So to me, Thanksgiving tops my charts for one of my favorite holidays – Even though for 12 or so years I was always stuck at the kids table (darn my luck being the youngest). Now as an adult, having the family around the table and the wine flowing, the laughter and chatter just reminds me how lucky I am.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

15 Minute Pasta

This vegetarian pasta is one of my favorites I just whipped up one night with ingredients I almost always have on hand. It's a favorite of Justin's and I use it now as a base and add seafood to it on occasion.

1 box of thin or angel hair pasta
3 tbsp of butter
1 small wedge of Mizithra Cheese, grated (Greek cheese and oh so yummy)
1 can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes (I use cherry tomatoes when I season, and season them)
Fresh Garlic, freshly minced
Fresh chopped basil (picked right from your garden - hint hint)

Cook pasta as directed. I use wheat pasta in my house and my boys can't tell the difference.

As pasta is cooking, preheat a deep sauce pan over med heat. Add 5 turns of pan EVOO, butter and minced garlic. Once the garlic has filled your kitchen with its delightful fumes, add tomatoes. Simmer on low.

Add cooked pasta (probably not the whole box, I usually use 1/2 to 3/4.). Turn pasta in pan to mix the deliciousness together.

Plate, add chopped fresh basil, and smother with cheese. This cheese doesn't melt, do more is better in my book.

Bravo! Your done. That was easy right?

To spruce it up, I add scallops or even shrimp. But the majority of the time it's a vegetarian meal.

Campfire Chicken

As a child I was a girl scout and my mom was our troop leader. We used to make this delicious dish in foil packs on a open flame fire pit at camp. I crave this every now and again, especially in the colder months. So after some tweaking, I have mastered this recipe in my Dutch oven.

Serves 4

4 Split Chicken Breast, Bone-In
1 large onion
4 tomatoes
Red or Gold Potatoes
Baby carrots
Frozen mini corn on the cob
1-2 Red, orange or yellow peppers (I pick red About 99.9% of the time)
White pepper
Garlic Cloves
Garlic Pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

First, make sure to spray or rub down with EVOO your Dutch oven. You don't want veggies or chicken to stick to pan.

Prepping veggies:
Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters. Potatoes in half depending on size.
Carrots and Corn are ready to go.
Onion cut in half and then in quarters.
Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add EVOO, and spices and mix well.

Rinse chicken with water and pat dry. Rub spice ingredients on chicken and place in Dutch oven.

Add veggies and garlic gloves. Honestly, add as little or a lot of whole cloves as you like. I'm a garlic fanatic so I add about 4-6 to the pot.

Place lid on and place in oven.

Now, this will need to cook for 2 1/1- 3 hours, depending on your oven. Test your veggies to make sure they are cooked before removing. I like to use a turkey baster and baste the ingredients half way through. The amount of juices the chicken releases is ridiculous!

Bon appetit!