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December 30th, 2012

Easy Apps To Ring In The New Year

Fig and Almond Prosciutto Cups 

If you’re anything like me, by this time of year you are all partied out. Well, almost because New Years Eve is still on it’s way. We have a new house so this year I’ve hosted a lot of soirees and it’s been awesome. Seeing family and friends and enjoying each others company over delicious food and bev is definitely a plus, but it can be a bit of a struggle to entertain when you have little ones. Truth be told, I’ve been able to keep the pace with party season by striking a balance between casual and more formal entertaining ie; some cocktail parties and some sit-downs.

Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus With Lemon Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce

Becoming a parent has changed the way I entertain, but it hasn’t changed my love or desire to celebrate with family and friends. My time and budget may be limited but I figured out early on, I can still entertain like a rockstar  without breaking my back or the bank. Cocktail parties are one of my favorite way to entertain casually and on a budget. One or two signature cocktails (fancy description for a mixed drink) and some bite sized noshes and you are all set to paaar-taay!

Hop on over to Momtastic for some of my favorite appetizer recipes.

 

 

December 18th, 2012

Cranberry Mulled Wine

I’m a sucker for all things “mulled” come winter holiday time. There’s something just so comforting and festive about the combination of aromas that make up mulling spices. Warm a sachet of fragrant mulling spices into some warming cider or wine and you are will be in beverage heaven.  And just the smell of mulling spices simmering on the stove brings an instant holiday atmosphere to your home. I cannot think of a better drink to serve to guests as they come into your home from the cold.

Mulling spices are easily found in many stores this time of year but you can easily put together a sachet of your own and while your at it, make a big batch and give it out as hostess gifts. You will not regret it.

 

 

November 26th, 2012

Turkey Meatball Sammie

 

So, Thanksgiving has come and gone and probably so have the leftovers, right? You may even be sick of the flavors of Thanksgiving or you might be like me, obsessed with them! In fact, I love to create recipes using Thanksgiving flavors that are easy enough to do any night of the week, any time of year. If you get creative, you definitely don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy the flavors of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. No, ma’am!

 

If you’re still obsessing over those flavors too, check out my recipe for these Turkey Meatball Sandwiches. They are super easy to make and pretty darned good for you too thanks to the addition of shredded sweet potatoes and the fact that they are baked, not fried. I know these will be a new favorite around your house. I mean, who doesn’t love a meatball sammie?  Get ready to bookmark this recipe and add the flavors of Thanksgiving all year long.

 

Get the recipe HERE!

 

 

November 20th, 2012

Giving Thanks…

Sweet Potato Pie With Sticky Pecan Sauce via Make Your House Work For The Holidays

I realize it’s been a while since I posted here and for that I am very sorry. You should know that it’s not for my lack of love for this site and all of you, but rather because, well, you know, life got in the way. Moving to a new state, raising two little boys and dealing with a crazy girl named Sandy. All of that, plus work has had me running around like a turkey without it’s head (bad Thanksgiving humor coming from an ex-vegetarian —for shame!).

I know it’s very close to T-day. My plan was to hit you with many delicious recipes way in advance to the big day but I have been so busy writing tasty recipes for other sites, I left myself zero time to post them here. I’m guessing many of you are still on the hunt for delicious recipes  and if you are, these are for you. I have lost of tasty recipes to share via all of the wonderful partners I’m working with, including Samsung’s Make Your House Work For the Holidays Facebook page. We have apps, sides, drinks and even a delicious roast turkey breast that’s so simple and flavorful you’ll want to bookmark this recipe for other days of the year, not just Thanksgiving.  Give ’em a try and let me know what you think.

 

Thank you for reading, commenting and the every day love you give me. I will continue to create recipes with the family in mind in the hopes that you’ll share it with them. After-all, food made with love is meant to be shared.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 Beverage

Cranberry Mulled Wine

Appetizers

 Baked Brie with Cranberry


 

Salad

Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad with Ricotta Salad and Honey Vinaigrette

 

 Sides

Stuffing Pie via Samsung Make Your House Work For The Holidays

Easy Orange Cranberry Sauce

Main

Super Moist Herbed Mayonnaise Turkey Breast

 

Dessert

Easier Than Pie Sweet Potato Crostata

 Sweet Potato Pie With Ginger

October 28th, 2012

Pie To Calm The Nerves: Sweet Potato Pie with Ginger

I live in NJ and right now we are preparing for Hurricane Sandy to arrive. I had to stop watching TV because it is really making me nervous. Of course we should all be as prepared and informed as possible, but sometimes you just gotta turn the media off, ya know?

I’m Italian and that means you cook when your happy, sad, nervous or indifferent. Basically, I’m cooking all the time. My type of hurricane prep means cooking and eating A LOT! Cooking has a way of calming me so I know that my nervous energy is best spent doing something constructive like filling my family’s bellies. That being said, I decided to ignore the TV for a while and bake up something delicious while we still have power. YIKES! I figured this was a great opportunity to bake up a pie and fill my home with the delicious smells of sweet potato and cinnamon. At the last minute I decided to toss in some fresh ginger to add a little zip and it was such a good move! This pie is definitely a recipe you’ll want to bookmark for the upcoming holidays. it’s got that classic smooth and creamy sweet potato pie texture with a nice perk from the spiciness of ginger. Perfect.

Now go and bake up this pie while the electricity is still on. And most importantly, if you are in the path of the hurricane, stay safe and warm and dry.

 

 

 


September 2nd, 2012

In Season Cooking: Spicy Tomatillo Sauce

I recently joined a Fresh Box program here in my new town (still so weird saying “town”). The program is through the wonderful Alan’s Orchard in Westfield, NJ. It’s basically a store dedicated to local sustainably farmed and certified organic produce. They also sell free-range poultry, grassfed beef, dairy products and many, many other goodies. The Fresh Box program kind of works like a CSA in the sense that you pay a weekly fee and in exchange receive a box full of seasonal, local garden fresh fruits and veggies. It’s AMAZING!  It’s one of the many exciting new things I get to do here in New Jersey. We had many CSA’s in Brooklyn where I used to live, but none were near my little out of the way neighborhood of Gravesend. I had longed to join a program like this but it was never convenient for me and now it is!

Each week I look forward to my Fresh Box because I never know what’s going to be in it. It’s great to eat local for so many reasons and being a part of a program like this is a wonderful way to stretch my culinary muscles and expand my families palate with new and exciting tastes and textures. This week we were given some awesome tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro along with many other delicious goodies (hello, plums and dandelion greens!).  Recipe ideas were swirling in my head as I looked over the beautiful bounty laid out before me and unpacking the box is literally like Christmas for someone like me. I wanted to eat everything that instant but it was dinnertime and I need to make something quick! I already defrosted some boneless, skinless chicken breasts so I knew that I needed something to jazz those boring babies up. Suddenly the tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro I was eyeing earlier made total sense. Tomatillo sauce! Yes! It would be the perfect pairing for our ordinary chicken breasts. And what a fun and simple way to jazz it up. I grilled up the chicken, made the sauce and in 20 minutes, dinner was served.

This sauce is spicy, I’m not gonna lie. You can easily adjust the heat by adding more or less jalapenos. It has a bright, fresh flavor that really akes up the taste buds. Not only is the sauce  perfect as a topping for poultry, it’s equally delicious on fish, pork, beef or even as a salsa chips or a topping for tacos.

Thanks Alan’s Orchard! Can’t wait to see what you have for me next week!

 

 

 

August 21st, 2012

Peach Popsicles With Chia Seeds

Pssst.

I want to let you in on a little secret.

See those little grey seeds up there that look kinda like sesame seeds?  They’re my new obsession.

What are they you ask?

I’ll give you a little OK, a BIG hint.

Chi-Chi-Chi-Chia!

Did you guess it yet?

Oh, you guys are TOO good!

That’s right! They’re Chia Seeds and I. Cannot. Stop. Using. Them. They’ve sort of replaced my obsession with wheat germ and flax seeds, for the moment. I’ve been putting them in and on everything and anything since they started stocking them at my local Trader Joe’s. I have to admit that before trying them at a few weeks ago, I’d never had them before. My only experience with the word Chia came from the annoyingly addicting commercial that came on the scene in the 70’s. Now you can’t get the song out of your head either, right? You’re welcome. : )

Anyway, when I stumbled upon them and read about all of their health benefits, I knew they were right up my alley. I love finding little (easy) ways to boost the nutritional value of what my family and I eat and Chia seeds fit the bill perfectly. And shockingly enough, they were an easy sell to my 4 year old. After labeling them as Chia “Sprinkles”, he happily eats them on anything I decide to sprinkle them on.

 

What The Heck Are Chia Seeds Anyway?

Well I’m glad you asked. Chia seeds are an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica which is a member of the mint family that grows throughout southern Mexico. While you may be more familiar with them as sprouts growing on your novelty Chia pet planters, these tiny seeds are anything but novel.

 

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a better source than flax. it’s also rich in antioxidants and can be stored for a long time without becoming rancid like so many other fatty acide containing products. They can be eaten whole which means you don’t have to grind them up like you do flax seeds and are a good source of fiber, about 6.9 grams per serving.

 

What Do I do With Them?

Since Chia seeds don’t have to be ground to be eaten, you can feel free to sprinkle them onto anything you’d like. Eaten naked, they really don’t have much of a flavor but they have a little bit of a crunch. When mixed into a liquid, they soak it up and become softer and more gelatinous in texture which is quite enjoyable in beverages, yogurts and puddings. In fact, in mexico they mix it into different agua frescas and most commonly serve it in a lemonade that is just divine.  

Our Favorite Ways to Use Chia Seeds:

Sprinkled over greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey.

In Pudding (like tapioca style). Check out this recipe! OMG! 

Sprinkled over pancakes, waffles or french toast.

Mixed into smoothies or frozen inside popsicles (see recipe below).

Stirred into a beverage like lemonade — Chia Fresca! (popular in Mexico).

 

So, tell me. How do you use your Chia seeds?

 

 

August 14th, 2012

Easiest Blueberry Lemon Zest Jam

 

I do not know why it’s taken me so long to make homemade jam. The process couldn’t be easier or more gratifying. It takes 20 minutes and will keep in your fridge for up to one week which means you’ll have seven days of freshly made jam to jazz up your boring morning toast in the morning. And it’s a great way to use up berries that are so plentiful this time of year. Homemade jam is so incredibly delicious and it seriously puts to shame anything you can buy in the store so why not give it a try, right?

This past weekend I was throwing not one, but TWO birthday brunches and i figured some homemade blueberry jam would be a nice touch to the buffet table. I decided to combine it with a bit of fresh lemon juice and zest because i love the combination of blueberries and lemon zest and it turned out delicious! There really is no way to mess the recipe up, (unless you leave it bubbling on the stove too long) and you can use any berries you have hanging around. Now that I’ve made my first batch, I can’t wait to whip up some more and give them as gifts to friends and neighbors alongside some yummy scones!

Easiest Blueberry Jam

Makes 1 jar

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups blueberries, stems removed, washed and dried
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Juice and zest of one small lemon

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan stir together blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Set the saucepan over medium heat and  bring to a boil.

2. Lower the heat until the mixture is just bubbling gently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickens, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Cool, place into a mason jar or airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

 

August 7th, 2012

Pesto Roasted Chicken Thighs

Is basil taking over your garden or window box? Now’s definitely the time to stockpile that freezer with the good stuff. And by “good stuff” I mean Pesto Sauce, people. Pesto is in the fast food category at our house. Stash a stockpile of it in the freezer and you have a wealth of easy but flavorful meals waiting to be made at a moments notice.

I’ve told you before just how much homemade pesto rocks! I’ve even given you five great uses for it besides as a pasta topping as well as a creamy variation on the classic pasta sauce. But today my friends, I give you yet another tasty recipe using pesto and quite possibly my favorite of the bunch: Pesto Roasted Chicken thighs. That’s right! Pesto makes an excellent chicken coating and the recipe couldn’t be simpler. Just make up a batch of your favorite pesto, slater it under the skin of some chicken thighs (or your favorite part of the chicken), bake and eat. That’s it. That’s all.

This dish is flavor packed and so gorgeous when it comes out of the oven. The chicken remains incredibly moist and the pesto is sort of a flavorful surprise hiding underneath that crispy skin. Best of all, it’s the kind of  recipe that is easy enough for a weeknight meal but gorgeous enough to entertain with—LOVE THAT!  Now go and hop on over to Baby Gizmo for the recipe and get started on stock piling that fridge with some pesto sauce.

 

Click here-–>Pesto Roasted Chicken Thighs recipe at BabyGizmo.com

August 3rd, 2012

Brunch Entertaining: Fig And Cheddar Crostini

I love to entertain and before I had kids I was a go-all-out kinda gal. You know, the weirdo who would spend weeks pouring over recipe ideas and table-scape plans. I’m not talking frou-frou or fussy , this is me we’re taking about, but let’s just say that BK (before kids) I took a lot of time with my party preparations. Now I’m lucky if I can even remember napkins but my love for entertaining still remains strong. I love being with people and sharing a good meal.

Entertaining does not have to go out the window after you have kids. Sure, you need to change your strategies and even though I always entertained casually, my definition of the word “casual” has gotten more loose since the kiddies came along. And you know what? I sort of love keeping it loose and relaxed. I have more fun preparing because I’m not stressed and in turn, my guests get a more focused, less frazzled host. Everyone is happy and well fed regardless of how many days it took me to prepare or how many courses I serve.

In the interest of keeping things simple, my go-to meal plan goes like this:

Signature Cocktail/Mocktail

Small nibble or antipasti plate

Main Course

Dessert (ask guest to bring to make it even easier)

This plan is foolproof and so easy yet it still feels special and even luxurious. No matter how much time I have to spend on preparations, I always want my guests to feel special and welcome in my home and the above strategy always does the trick. It allows you to actually enjoy your guests, and after all, isn’t that what really matters?

The sweet tender fig set atop a crusty piece of bread with melty cheddar is one of my favorite appetizers to make and it’s always a hit. I love how the salty sharpness of the cheddar pairs with the sweetness of the fig, top that off with a drizzle of flowery honey and you have yourself one divine appetizer in less time than it takes to bake up frozen ones out of a box. . It goes perfectly with any beverage and is a nice nibble before the main course.