Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014

To recap this year, we moved from Maine to North Carolina. The kids had to start a new school. My sister came to visit me twice. My Dad came down to visit me once. I've been back to Maine to visit twice. We were fortunate and went to Disney early this year plus took a week vacation in Vermont. I was lucky to return to Disney with my sister. Overall, this year was crazy. I could live at Disney but I'm sure they would deny my request. I hope you had a wonderful year and not as crazy as mine.  To recap our favorite recipes, they are:

Favorite Breakfast:
Pineapple Syrup
Favorite Meat:
Bourbon Bacon Burger
 Favorite Bread:
Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
 Favorite Cookie:
Lemon Cream Cookies
Favorite Dessert:
Best of 2013
Best of 2012
Best of 2011

Did you already know.................
-Per Amazon, Happy by Pharrell Williams was the best selling song.
-Their best selling book was StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
-Per Box Office Mojo, the highest grossing U.S. movie of 2014 was Guardians of the Galaxy.

See you next year! 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Zuppa Toscana

Alright, I will admit I have never had the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup. I always pick minestrone especially in the winter time. So, I can not personally say this recipe taste like the restaurant's version. All I can say is I liked it. It is creamy. It is filling. The kids liked it. It has a vegetable in it. It is an easy dish to make. It is a great soup. I served biscuits with the soup.
Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana
4 bacon stripes 
1 lb. Italian sausage
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 quart water
2 large russet potatoes, cut inot 1/4 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups swiss chard, chopped
1 cup light cream


  1. In a large pot, brown the bacon until crisp.
  2. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside onto a paper lined plate.
  3. Add the sausage and brown.
  4. Add the garlic and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes. 
  5. Add the chicken broth and the water. 
  6. Add the potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. Simmer for 10 minutes. 
  9. Reduce heat to low. Add the swiss chard and cream.
  10. Cook for a few minutes until the soup is heated.
Recipe adapted from

One year ago.............................I made No Bake Peanut Butter Bars.
Three years ago.........................I made Penguin Cupcakes
Did you already know................
-In 1982, the first Olive Garden opened in Orlando, Florida.
-Olive Garden is the third largest restaurant chain.
-Olive Garden's parent company is Darden.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Honey and Nut Clusters

Alright, I admit I like nuts. I like cookies with nuts. I like my chocolate with nuts. My husband isn't nuts about nuts. So, these bars aren't for him. When I saw this recipe, I actually thought it would harden like peanut brittle. They are gooey and chewy. I guess I could have tried to freeze them but why? I could easily break off a little piece. I could taste the honey and the nuts. These clusters are very rich. I guess if you want a recipe which isn't so gooey then maybe dipping them into chocolate.
Honey and Nut Clusters
1 cup almonds, toasted
1 cup walnuts, toasted
2 egg whites
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup fine sugar

  1. Roughly chop the almonds and walnuts. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. 
  3. Gently, stir in the chopped nuts. Set aside.
  4. In a small pot, combine the honey and sugar.
  5. Bring the honey and sugar to a boil. 
  6. Stir in the nut mixture and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the mixture into a baking dish and evenly level. 
  8. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper. 
  9. Place several cans of food on top of the parchment paper to weigh it down. 
  10. Allow the mixture to chill for at least 2 days to set before serving.
Recipe adapted from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible Cookbook.
Two years ago...........................I made Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies.
Three years ago........................I made Snowman Sugar Cookies.
Did you already know.........................
-Since 7000 B.C., the walnut is one of the oldest tree foods known to man.
-Walnuts begin to be harvested in August.
-It takes at least five years for a walnut tree to produce walnuts after the planting of a walnut tree sapling.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Walnut Biscotti

Biscotti is one of these recipes I've been meaning to make but just hadn't. When I told the kids I was going to make these cookies, they had no idea what I was making. Biscotti? Biscotti, what? I told them they would like these cookies especially to dip them into their hot chocolate. I'm surprised the kids could actually dip anything over the amount of marshmallows they had floating in their cup. Isn't that what having hot chocolate is about? How many marshmallows can you fit without any spilling over? These cookies are the typical biscotti recipe. They are crunchy and sweet. I really liked them even without a side of hot chocolate. 
Walnut Biscotti
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal 
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. 
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and blend until incorporated. 
  6. Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  7. Slowly, add the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated. 
  8. Fold in the walnuts.
  9. Transfer half the dough onto one side of the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Shape the dough into a 12 inch log about 2 inches wide. 
  11. Form a second log into a log parallel to the other log.
  12. Bake the dough for 25 minutes or until the log is light golden but still soft. 
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  14. With a long serrated knife, cut the dough into 1 inch slices. 
  15. Space the slices about 1/2 inch apart. 
  16. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until golden and firm. 
  17. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. 

Three years ago......................Melted Snowman
Did you already know.........................
-Biscotti are twice baked cookies.
-Biscotti originates from Italy.
-The cookie was ideal for travels since it lasted a long time.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese

Since my daughter loves macaroni and cheese, she elected for me to make this dish. Now, I like spinach and artichokes. I just didn't know how I would like this dish. Well, my husband even liked this dish. My husband doesn't eat artichokes. It is creamy. It is delicious and the kids ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. elbow noodles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 (9 oz.) artichoke hearts, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cook the elbow noodles per package to al dente. 
  3. While the noodles are cooking, heat a medium pot over medium heat.
  4.  In the pot, heat the olive oil and butter.
  5. Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the shallot and garlic. Stir to combine. Heat for 1 minute.
  8. Whisk in 3/4 cups of the pasta water to the pot with the milk. Whisk for a couple of minutes. 
  9. Stir in the sour cream, 3/4 cups mozzarella cheese, the Swiss cheese, and the Italian cheese blend.
  10. Add the spinach, artichoke hearts, and cooked pasta. Stir until incorporated.
  11. Transfer the macaroni and cheese into a baking dish.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. 
  13. Broil for about 2 minutes or until golden.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchen.

One year ago.................................I made Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls.
Two years ago...............................I made Sables.
Three years ago............................I made White Chocolate Covered Oreos.
Did you already know.....................
-Artichokes are the flower buds before they bloom into a purple flower.
-One artichoke plant can produce 20 artichokes a year. 
-In 1947, Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe) was crowned the first official California Artichoke Queen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge

For some reason, I associate fudge with Christmas. I really do not eat it any other time of the year. I will admit I normally buy it then make it. This recipe I figured I would try. Well, I think I really needed to let the chocolate fudge set a little longer before adding the top peanut butter layer. It didn't matter since it still tasted good. Next time, I'm going to try placing the peanut butter layer on the bottom to see if it made a difference. I would recommend this recipe for an at the house recipe and not a recipe to serve for company since it has a great taste but the chocolate layer doesn't set as hard as the peanut butter.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate layer:
8 oz. Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chocolate Squares
10 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla

  1. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment/wax paper.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate and condensed milk for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir and continue to microwave for another 30 minute increments until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix. 
  5. Spread the mixture into the square pan (or on top of the peanut butter layer if you decided to make the peanut butter layer first).
  6. Allow to harden overnight before making the peanut butter layer. 
Peanut butter layer:
10 oz. peanut butter chips
10 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp peanut butter

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the peanut butter chips, condensed milk, and peanut butter for one minute.
  2. Stir well and add on top of the cooled chocolate layer (or on the bottom of the prepared pan if the peanut butter layer will be first).
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm before cutting into desired size.
 Recipe adapted from My and here.

One year ago...........................Candy Cane Marshmallows.
Three years ago......................Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes
Did you already know............
-Fudge was created in America but unknown. 
-Fudge and caramel differs because of temperature.
-It is believed fudge was created when a batch of caramels were messed up.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Country French Omelet

I showed my son this recipe and he agreed we should make it. Now, I hate cooking bacon. If I use the stove, it splatters. I even bought a splash guard but I still have to lift it up to flip them. I also tend to burn a couple of pieces. If I cook bacon in the oven, I think they tend to be very crumbly. So, I try to cook bacon for two recipes and save some pieces for the next day. My oldest daughter use to cook the bacon for me since I think she wanted to sample a few pieces. This recipe is easy. The potatoes are crispy. This was one filling breakfast. It could easily be a quick dinner meal too.
Country French Omelet
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
3 large eggs
3 egg whites
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp salted butter
 2 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp chives, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large oven safe skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat on the stove.
  3. Add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Cook for 8 minutes. Toss occasionally to brown evenly.
  5. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.
  6. In a medium bowl, add the eggs, egg whites, and milk. Whisk to combine.
  7. Add the butter to the skillet and allow to melt over low heat. 
  8. Pour the eggs into the skillet. 
  9. Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes, and chives evenly over the top of the eggs.
  10. Place the skillet into the oven for 8 minutes. 
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Back to Basics cookbook by Barefoot Contessa.

Three years ago............................Enchilada Pie.
Did you already know.............
-Omelet is French and means thin plate.
-There is a legend about Napoleon being served an omelet by an innkeeper. 
-Napoleon was so impressed by the omelet that he had the townspeople prepare a huge omelet for his army the next day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gingerbread Cake

Often, my son likes to help me in the kitchen. Normally, we are cooking and not baking. So, I decided it would be a nice change. We decided to use the mixer. This way all he had to do was add the ingredients. Easy, right? Well, I handed him the spices. He didn't even measure them. After he added the amount he thought was appropriate, I asked him why he decided not to measure the spices. He figured it was too much work to get the measuring spoons. While I measured the flour, I asked him if we forgot any ingredients. He read over the recipe twice. He reassured me all the ingredients had been added. Then we baked this wonderful cake. The moment it came out of the oven I knew the ingredient we forgot-the baking soda. He did confirm that we didn't add any baking soda. It tasted good with the whip cream even if it was a dense and spicy cake. I am posting the correct recipe. If you make this recipe, please don't follow by our example. 
Gingerbread Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour a square baking pan about 9x9x2. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, molasses, hot water, and egg.
  4. Add the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook.

One year ago.........................I made Bacon and Cheddar Quiche.
Two years ago.......................I made Vanilla Cookies.
Three years ago.....................I made Spiced Cranberry Punch.
Did you already know............
-In Medieval England, gingerbread meant any preserved ginger. 
-In Medieval Europe, gingerbread were served at festivals & fairs.
-During the tournaments, ladies would give their favorite knight a piece of gingerbread.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Roasted Provolone

I love cheese like my husband loves peanut butter. Normally, I do not just make a a dish of cheese but that is what I did. My children loved this dish. I thought it tasted wonderful but it was stingy. The kids didn't care. They told me that I should share this recipe with you. I think next time I make garlic bread this would be the best topping.
Roasted Provolone
6 oz. Provolone slices
1/4 tsp oregano

  1. Preheat the broiler. 
  2. In a small baking dish, place the provolone cheese. 
  3. Broiler the cheese for about 8  minutes or until browned.
  4. Sprinkle the oregano on top.
  5. Serve immediately with toast.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

One year ago....................................I made Bacon Cheeseball.
Two years ago..................................I made Penne Aglio-olio.
Three years ago................................I made Honey Butter Pork.
Did you already know....................
-Provolone cheese originates from Southern Italy.
-Provolone cheese is made from cow's milk.
-In America, provolone tends to be Provolone Dolce which is aged only a couple of months and is milder than Provolone Piccante.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snickers Caramel Cheesecake Minis

Do you need a recipe for the holidays? Something you can make ahead and can grab to go? Well, I think cheesecake is always a winner. I wanted to make little mini ones since I think they are easier to share. Since I had a package of snickers in the cabinet, I thought they would be an excellent topper. Also, my daughter wanted a package of shortbread cookies but then decided she didn't like them. Guess what I used as my cheesecake crust? I did make these for my husband as an anniversary gift. Sometimes the best gifts are the simple ones.
Snickers Caramel Cheesecake Mini
1/2 cup shortbread cookies, crushed
1/2 cups plus 1 tsp sugar, split
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter, melted
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
6 caramel candy
2 tsp water
6 mini snickers,chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the shortbread cookies, with 1 tsp sugar, salt, and the melted butter.
  4. Press the shortbread mixture evenly into the cupcake liners. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese with the 1/2 cup sugar. Mix until fluffy.
  6. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  7. Evenly distribute the cream cheese mixture on top of the shortbread mixture.
  8. Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes or until the cheesecake center is almost set.
  9. Allow to cool and transfer to the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  10. Over a double boiler, melt the caramels with the water. Mix until melted.
  11. Drizzle some of the melted caramel over cheesecake.
  12. Top the cheesecakes with the pieces of snickers.
  13. Drizzle the remaining melted caramel over the snickers and cheesecake.
  14. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Recipe adapted from

One year ago...............................I made Jumbo 4 Chip Cookies.
Two years ago.............................I made Tomato Soup.
Three years ago...........................I made Blueberry Muffins.
Did you already know..................
-In 1930, Mars Incorporated launched the Snickers candy bar.
-In 1930, the Snickers candy bar cost five cents. 
-Snickers candy bar was named after the Mars family's horse.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Baked Hot Chocolate Pudding

Sometimes, I just want chocolate. It could be a hard day. It is cold outside. It could be there are craters on the moon. I can give you many reasons why I would like chocolate. Well, I decided to try this recipe for baked pudding. Since moving, I didn't realize I had no cocoa powder. I hadn't made it to the store and didn't check the cabinet so I figured hot chocolate would do. My family like pudding and chocolate so this was a good combination for us. It is very rich with a crunchy top and a smooth filling.
Baked Hot Chocolate Pudding
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 packages of hot chocolate mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish or 6 small baking dishes.
  3. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar for 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the hot chocolate mix and flour. Mix until just combined.
  6. Slowly, add the cooled butter and mix until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared dishes. 
  8. Set the dishes into a larger baking dish.
  9. Add hot water to the larger baking dish so it comes up to half way to the smaller baking dishes. Don't allow any water to get onto the batter. 
  10. Bake the dish for 1 hour for the larger dish. (Check about 30 minutes for the smaller dishes.) The dish is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out 3/4 clean. The center should appear undercooked since it is a baked pudding. 
  11. Allow to cool before serving.
Recipe adapted from Back to Basics cookbook by Barefoot Contessa.

Two years ago............................I made Bacon Fontina Panini.
Three years ago..........................I made Nutella Hot Chocolate.
Did you already know............
-The moon is shaped like a lemon. 
-The moon is larger than Pluto.
-The moon does have small quakes called moonquakes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

PB Delightfull Cookies

I normally do not try to succumb to commercials but I saw the Toll House Delightfulls morsels and was intrigued. I figured I would check them out the next time I was at the store. Well, I forgot about the commercial. My son wasn't feeling good with strep throat and all. When we happen to be at the store again, I made the mistake of showing my husband. Guess what I was baking later that night? Yes, they are good. Yes, my husband and daughter had several. I was good and limited it to one cookie. They are very rich.
PB Delightfulls Cookies
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
9 oz. DelighFulls Peanut Butter morsels
4 oz. miniature milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs. Mix until incorporated. 
  6. Slowly, add the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.
  7. Fold in the morsels and chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop mounds of batter onto the baking sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for at least 13 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from the Toll House Delightfulls package.

One year ago..................I made Sweet Potato Muffins.
Two years ago................I made Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies.
Three years ago.............I made Easy Chocolate Fudge.
Did you already know................
-Besides a sore throat and fever, a rash may develop.
-All ages can get strep throat but it is more common in children  the ages of 5 to 15.
-Strep throat must be tested to be verified and can't be diagnosed by appearance only.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thai Chicken Wrap

My children argue like any typical siblings. One reason they argue is my son likes to tell us lots of facts. My daughter likes to correct her brother as an older sister will do. Since my son is confident in his facts, I am the fact checker. Normally, I know the answers which makes it easier for me but when I don't I will look it up. So, I had to look up whether penguins eat squids or not. I have never paid much attention to the diet of penguins. I am too busy worrying about my children's diets. Well, my son was right (which he normally is 90% of the time but his sister does catch him on other the 10%). This was our discussion while we ate these Thai Chicken Wraps. They are really good and fast to assemble. My son made the sauce for us. My daughter prepped the lettuce. It was a nice way to prepare lunch
Thai Chicken Wrap
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb. cooked chicken, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ginger, minced
1 package of Asian blend cabbage slaw (cabbage, carrots, snap peas, etc.)
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp water
4 large tortillas
1 cup lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
 3 stalks of green onions, chopped

  1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken, garlic, sweet onion, ginger, and the cabbage slaw.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir often.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, and water. Stir until smooth. 
  5. Add the chili sauce mixture to the chicken. Stir to incorporate.
  6. On a tortilla, add the lettuce and chicken mixture. 
  7. Top with the almonds and green onions.
  8. Fold the tortillas to form a wrap.
Recipe adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch

One year ago..........................I made Sweet Potato Casserole.
Three years ago......................I made Breakfast Potatoes.
Did you already know.............
-Penguins eat krill, squid, and fish.
-While swimming, penguins swallow their prey whole.
-Penguins do not live at the North Pole.