Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Parmesan Pepper Sweet Potato Fries

Day 2 on the Healthy Recipes week!

Parmesan Pepper Sweet Potato Fries

1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, cut in 1/4" sticks
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes, cheese, olive oil and spices. Place potatoes in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Bake 8 minutes, then flip potatoes and bake 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned in spots.l

Serve immediately.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fall decoration ideas!

My best friend gave me a bug... Not the flu kind, but it's extremely contagious! She gave me the fall decorations bug. WARNING: it will make you want to bust out the totes of decorations, including autumn leaves, garlands, raffia and acorns. This bug will not make you turn green, but instead you will turn various shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns! Hopefully these ideas will help you prepare for "Fall Season" instead of Flu Season!


It may be too early to get pumpkins at the Farmer's Market, but we all know a very classic decoration for fall is pumpkins. Gourds are very popular too. However, Michaels or Hobby Lobby can help you out tremendously! They have craft pumpkins! They look just like real pumpkins but they gloriously don't rot or smell by the end of the season. You can carve them, paint them, or just enjoy them! I got lucky and stocked up on mine last year after Thanksgiving and got them all half off. They can be pretty pricey if you are stocking up. But pretty pricey in my book is $5-10 a pumpkin. A hot trend this year is painting your pumpkins in a metallic color. Look at these fabulous silver ones!

And you can even mix them with other painted pumpkins or pumpkins decorated with ribbons! You can make a cute arrangement of pumpkins on candlesticks of various heights.

This wreath is made out of a grapevine wreath with gourds and a bow. You could even paint them if you would like them a different color to match your house.


I inherited my love of candles from my mother, but they are easy, inexpensive and fabulous decoration! You can never go wrong with candles. However, I know some of you have children that you wouldn't want to get their little hands on them, so just remember instead of doing without, just put them out of reach. Mantles, shelves, or taller tables. And when in doubt, decorate the hurricane and put the candles inside it. It's good flame prevention.

Simply filling a glass candle holder with loose leaves and nuts or pine cones gives it character. Just be sure to keep the flame away from the decorations so that they don't catch on fire.

Using vegetables and raffia give makes them beautiful.

Another simple solution is a simple fall ribbon and an ornate gathering of cuts or a wood cutout in the middle of a hurricane.


Apothecary jars are a universal necessity of decoration. You can fill them with a vast variety of things for each and every season! Filling them with pecans, acorns and pine cones with fall ribbons are a great way to decorate.


Frames (we all know Walmart has the conveniently cheap $2 frames)are an easy way to decorate. A hot way to use them now is with no picture in them, just the frame itself. This one with just a simple strand of leaves across it is just too cute!

Have a mantel? These would be perfect decoration for above your fireplace or on a shelf! Simple matching frames with single letter print outs to spell out a word.

This one can be used as a frame or as a wreath. Pine cones do not have to be drab brown. Jazz them up with your favorite color!

Acorns are easy to use as well as pecans to line a frame or to make a wreath with. You could even attach a mirror to the back of this and hang it in your house.


Napkin rings with a fall flare!

An unusual alternative to a bowl for fall foliage...


Don't forget your stairs! Use bundles of wheat or cattails to decorate your stairs!


Don't forget the mums!


One of my absolute favorite things right now is a website of all things!!! Save-On-Crafts is one of my newest favorite cyber places to visit!!! They have tons of things that you can use to decorate your house, an event, a dinner party, or anything your heart desires! Here is the link to the website and their fall decorations page!!!


I thoroughly suggest you check it out and stock up! They are EXTREMELY affordable!!!

I hope this gives you some ideas and that the bug doesn't get you too soon!

Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breast

This week I am going to do diet-friendly, healthy alternatives for dinner! You will be shocked that meals can still taste good and be good for you! So today, we have Balsamic Chicken Breasts!

Balsamic Chicken Breasts

8 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. dried onion flakes
3 tsp. Italian Seasoning
3 tsp. ground mustard
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper

Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, thyme, salt, pepper and onion flakes in a 1 gallon ziploc bag along with chicken. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 1/2 hour. Heat grill on high heat, place chicken on grill and sear. Reduce heat and then cook through.

You can serve this on its own or you can serve it on a bed of fresh greens as a salad.

Bon appetit!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

Tonight's menu consists of Pepperoni Pizza Casserole. It's super easy and a crowd pleaser.

Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

1 lb spiral pasta
1 lb pepperoni
1 lb ground beef
1 (15 ounce) jar pizza sauce
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
dried parsley
onion powder
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Pour into large mixing bowl.

Finely chop half of the pepperoni. Brown hamburger meat and pepperoni along with onion powder and minced garlic. Drain.

Mix pasta, pizza sauce, and meat in bowl. Stir in half of the cheese.

Pour in lightly greased casserole dish. Put pasta mixture in the casserole dish and sprinkle remaining half of cheese over top.

Place remaining pepperoni slices on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese bubbles, about 15-20 minutes.

Happy Friday! Stay tuned tomorrow, I'm starting Cupcake Saturdays!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's on the Menu Tonight?

What's on the menu at my house tonight???

A replica of Red Lobster's Cajun Chicken Pasta!!!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
1 -2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces linguine or 4 ounces fettuccine pasta, cooked and drained
grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Place chicken an Cajun seasoning in a bowl or resealable plastic bag; toss or shake to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until almost tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Reduce heat. Add cream and seasoning; heat through. Add pasta and toss; heat through. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese if desired. Adjust the Cajun seasoning if you like it spicier.

I'm serving mine tonight with, you guessed it, Cheddar Biscuits! Don't get excited, they are the make from a bag Bisquick ones! LOL

Monday, August 23, 2010

Margarita Madness Monday!

After the weekend I've had I could use a few of these. Friday I had a horrible allergic reaction to a stinkin fire ant sting, my lips were swollen and everything. Not to mention those darn things HURT and ITCH like no tomorrow. So I spent most of my weekend doped up on benadryl. Then as if that wasn't bad enough, my computer got a horrible virus and the hubs had to work on that the rest of the weekend. (Hence no posts) So, having said that, I'm going to catch up on posts lost and give you Margarita Madness!!

The first recipe I'm going to do is for Margarita Cupcakes!!

Margarita Cupcakes

1 (18 1/4 ounce) boxes white cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
1 (10 ounce) cans frozen margarita mix, thawed (undiluted)
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

For Icing:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 -5 cups confectioners' sugar

In large bowl, combine cake mix, Margarita mix, egg whites and vegetable oil using electric mixer.
Stir in lime zest; mix completely.
Fill prepared pans 2/3 full.
Bake according to box directions (usually 325 degrees - be sure to check box!) 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on cooling rack 5-8 minutes.
Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely.

In large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, juice and zest with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add 4 cups confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time; continue beating until light and fluffy.
If icing is too thin add additional confectioners' sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Then you're ready to ice your cupcakes. Don't forget to sprinkle the outside edge of the icing with clear sugar crystals and garnish with a lime wedge!

The next recipe I have is for Margarita Fruit Dip

Margarita Fruit Dip

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup frozen margarita drink mix, thawed
2 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate (frozen)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 tbsp. tequila

In a medium bowl, beat together softened cream cheese, margarita mix, orange juice and powdered sugar and tequila until smooth. Fold whipped cream into mixture until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve dip with strawberries, cherries, peach slices and other fresh fruit. 12 servings

And last but not least... Margaritas


Salt, for rimming the glass (optional)
1 1/2 ounces tequila (blanco, 100 percent agave)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau (not Triple Sec)

If using salt, place in a shallow dish. Moisten the rim of a rocks glass with a dampened paper towel, then dip in salt.
Fill the glass with ice; add tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau; and stir a few times until chilled. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Au Gratin Celebration

Happy birthday to my mom today!

She is one person who has been there for me through thick and thin, good times and bad, all of my life. I've gotten a lot of "I told you so's" and "if you'd only listened to me the first time's" but regardless, she's loved me no matter what. She went out of her way to make sure I had the things I needed and wanted for that matter. She's my best friend.

I remember as a kid that she loved asparagus. I tried it a few times and the taste about made me gag. It even got to where I couldn't handle the smell. So at the beginning of the week, I got a whim to buy some fresh asparagus when I was shopping for groceries. Why, you ask. You've GOT me! haha! So in an effort to let bygones be bygones, I tried to make it a little different last night to take to dinner with family. I mean, who's going to really give you an honest opinion other than family right?! I feel bad for these people because they are often my guinea pigs! Anyway, the asparagus turned out pretty tastey. I even ate it and didn't gag!!! I may have turned over a new asparagus leaf. So today, in honor of my mom, I'm going to do an asparagus recipe!

A new Asparagus Au Gratin

1 bundle of fresh asparagus, rinsed, stems cut
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano
shredded parmesan cheese
Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs

Wash and cut the stems of your asparagus. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay the asparagus out on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. Roast in the oven, on 400F for 6 minutes. Flip your asparagus and roast for another 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and turn your broiler on. Sprinkle shredded parmesan over the asparagus and put under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs over the cheese. Spray the panko with cooking spray and return to the oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Serve right out of the oven.

Happy birthday mom!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blue Crab Dip

School is starting and summer is coming to a close. So before we hopefully see cooler temperatures here in the South, I thought I would share an excellent dip recipe.

Blue Crab Dip

1/2 cup butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
1 lb. fresh lump blue dungeness crab meat
crackers or toast baguettes

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add green onions and garlic, and saute until tender. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in half and half, then add swiss cheese, parsley, and dried sherry.

Gently fold crab meat in without breaking up the lumps. Pour into a lightly greased
8x8 baking dish. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve with crackers or toast baguettes.

Makes 4 1/2 cups.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Best appetizer ever!

It's versatile, it's delicious, it's easy, it's a MUST HAVE at parties.... it's a what I call Gouda Goodness. However, you can change this up many different ways!

1 can of crescent rolls
1 disc of smoked gouda cheese
honey dijon mustard
dried basil

Lay your crescent rolls out in a square, pressing the seams together. Cut your gouda cheese in half so that the disc stays in tact. Between the halves of cheese spread a generous amount of honey dijon and sprinkle some basil. Wrap the crescent rolls around the cheese, tucking the extra underneath. Place on a cookie sheet and bake on 300F for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown or cheese is melted. Serve with wheat thins!

*Note- with gouda cheese it takes longer for the cheese to melt because it is a harder cheese. In this case, we are going to lower the temp on the oven and cook it longer so the cheese has time to melt.*

This is what it looked like when I served it at our Superbowl party last year.

Variations to this:

- You can use a puff pastry if you don't want to use crescent rolls.

- You can use Brie cheese instead of Gouda. Brie melts quickly because it is a softer cheese. I would cook this one on 350F for 15-20 minutes. You can do a lot of things with Brie. It pairs really well with fruit. Serve it with sliced apples or grapes. Before you wrap the Brie in the pastry of your choice, you can add almonds or pecans, fruit like figs, cranberries, or apples.

Happy Tuesday!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Presents and Paninis!

Happy birthday to my sweet mother-in-law today!!! We love her very much and for her birthday this year we got her a panini press! Along with that panini press I made her a cute little ringed assortment of panini recipes and thought I would share some of those with everyone!

Panini Recipes

1. Simmer shredded leftover chicken in BBQ sauce, grill with fresh mozzarella and caramelized onions on Italian bread. Brush chili oil on the outside of the bread for extra flavor.

2. Combine shredded pepper jack and mozzarella cheeses and grill on slices of a french baguette. Brush with chili oil on the ouside before grilling.

3. For a kicked up leftover turkey sandwich that doesn't taste like Thanksgiving- turkey, Monterey Jack cheese, sliced jalapenos, sliced tomatoes and mayonnaise grilled on sourdough.

4. Reuben: corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island or Russian dressing grilled on rye bread.

5. Combine shredded leftover chicken in a small bowl with halved grapes, chopped walnuts, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Grill with halved Gruyere cheese on dark rye bread.

6. Simmer 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs in a bottle of Buffalo Wing Sauce for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Combine with caramelized onions and crumbled blue cheese on pita breads. Microwave the pitas to make them more malleable and then grill.

7. Sharp cheddar, baby spinach and thick cut bacon (pre-cooked) on sourdough.

8. Combine albacore tuna, chopped celery, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Grill with cooked bacon, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on country style bread.

9. Black Forest ham, sliced swiss cheese, and a drizzle of honey grilled on a seeded French baguette.

10. Prosciutto, sliced smoked gouda cheese and fig jam on a French baguette.

11. Grilled asparagus, prosciutto and mozzarella grilled on focaccia bread.

12. Combine equal parts honey and Dijon mustard. Spread on rye bread and top with leftover ham, brie cheese and grilled onions.

13. Blend mayo and sundried tomatoes in a food processor. Spread on ciabatta bread. Top with prosciutto wrapped turkey breast, sliced avocado and swiss cheese, then grill.

14. Combine leftover turkey and minced celery, diced granny smith apples, chopped pecans, and mayo. Season with salt and pepper. Grill with swiss cheese on cranberry walnut bread.

15. Layer thinly sliced brie cheese and halved (lengthwise) dried apricots on walnut bread. Brush a little melted butter on the outside of the bread and grill.

16. Grill sliced peaches on the panini press for about 2 minutes until caramelized. Grill with goat cheese, a few mint or basil leaves, and peaches on a French baguette.

17. Roast sliced and cored Gala apples for 15-20 minutes on 400F until they are soft, golden brown and caramelized on the bottom. Grill with slices of brie and pecan halves on cinnamon raisin bread.

18. Hollow out a sourdough roll and fill it with sour cream, red onions, leftover chili and shredded cheddar cheese. Brush with olive oil on top and grill.

19. Layer a slice of prosciutto, sliced peaches, mozzarella and basil on Italian bread. Brush olive oil on top and grill.

20. Layer Greek feta cheese, fresh tomatoes and sliced kalmata olives on olive bread. Drizzle inside with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and top with oregano. Grill.

Happy Sandwich making!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

That's how I roll!!!

To coincide with my Lettuce Wrap recipe from yesterday... Today's post is for Spring Rolls!!!

Spring Rolls

First of all, let me start by saying this, you need to use spring roll wrappers not eggroll wrappers. Spring roll wrappers will get crisper when fried than eggroll wrappers.

Things you will need:
•Spring roll shells (25 per package)
•Filling (see recipe)
•3 tbsp. flour + 3 tbsp water, paste consistency
•sheet pan or large plate to set spring rolls on

For the Filling:
•1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
•2 carrots, shredded
•3-4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
•1/2 lb. chicken, shredded
•2 Tbsp. corn oil
•2 tsp. salt
•1 Tbsp. sesame oil
•2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
•2 Tbsp. Char Siu bbq sauce

Pour corn oil in a wok heated to medium high. Add cabbage, carrots, sesame oil and 2tsp. salt, stir-frying consistently until cabbage begins to wilt (4-6 minutes).

Add chicken, oyster sauce, char siu sauce. Stir fry for another 4-6 minutes.

Set aside to cool, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Now for the wrapping:
Thanks to Soupbelly for the pictures...

To start, put a spoon full of filling in the corner of a spring roll wrapper.

Then begin to roll it covering up the filling.

Next you will need to fold the ends inward, to where it almost looks like an envelope. Use your flour/water paste and brush on the edges around the top.

Lastly, finish rolling the spring roll and place it on a cookie sheet or plate, then continue to roll the rest of your spring rolls.

For frying:

Heat corn oil on medium high in a pot. Size of pot is determined by how many you will be frying. Pour enough oil so the spring rolls are able to float without touching the bottom of the pot. When oil is heated and ready, drop a few in at a time (4-6). Spring rolls will only splatter if there are gaps or holes in it, so fry with caution. Fry until golden, turning if necessary. Place on paper towels to soak up excess grease, cooling for at least 5 minutes. Serve.

For baking:

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Brush oil on both sides of rolls, place on baking pan. Bake for approximately 16 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve.

Happy Friday! Everyone have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lettuce Wraps and Lots of Love

First of all, let me start by saying that the last few days have been extremely busy and in the midst of all my business, I didn't get a post on Sunday. Sunday just so happened to be a very special day and I refuse to not acknowledge it. August 8th was my parents anniversary! They are two of the most important people in my life and I couldn't let the recognition go by. I love them with all my heart and wish them many, many more years of happiness!

So since I'm talking about my favorite people, I'm going to give out the recipe today that is an imitation to one of my favorite restaurants- PF Changs!!!! Today's recipe is for Lettuce Wraps!!!

Lettuce Wraps

1 pound ground chicken
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
1/3 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
12 large lettuce leaves (romaine works well)
Chinese hot mustard (optional)
Dried rice noodles

Combine chicken, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl.
Blend soy sauce into cornstarch in cup until smooth.
Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; heat until hot. Add chicken mixture; stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
Stir soy sauce mixture and add to wok. Stir-fry 30 seconds or until sauce boils and thickens. Add water chestnuts, onions and peanuts; heat through.
Spread the mixture over the dried rice noodles and serve.

Makes 12 wraps.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Baklava, it's good for the soul not the wasteline!

I made these baklava cups before Thanksgiving last year and had the guys at Fight Night be my guinea pigs. They didn't know what it was, but they disappeared before I knew it! They were surprisingly easy to make, other than my love/hate relationship with phyllo dough. :)

Baklava is a greek dessert with nuts, so if you're allergic you better stay away.


1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter, divided, melted
1/4 cup honey
12 sheets phyllo dough or pre-made phyllo cups

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place almonds, walnuts, apricots, breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a food processor. Run the machine until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. melted butter and honey and stir to combine.

If using the pre-made phyllo cups- you can fill the cups and place in the oven, on 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

If making your own phyllo cups- on a dry work surface, lay out a sheet of phyllo, brush with pastry brush and melted butter. Add another sheet, brush with butter, repeat. Continue brushing sheets until you have about 7-8 sheets. Cut the sheets into 12 squares and line a mini muffin pan. Fill the cups with the mixture and then bake.

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What could have been...

Today is what could have been one of the most influential men in my life's birthday, my Pa.

He was honestly one of the funniest, jovial, friendly, and smartest people I know. You could say I get my desire to dabble in many different creative things from him. He was always doing something, from making lye soap to breeding chinchillas. Yes, chinchillas. He always made cinnamon rock candy every Christmas and I loved it! I think he secretly liked being in the kitchen because he was known in our family as the best banana pudding maker.

He loved to sing country music and I loved singing with him when I was a little girl. I used to tell him that I didn't like country music just to watch him squirm. I was ornery, what can I say!

Pa was quite the jokester. He had a joke, as cheesey as some were, for everyone who graced the doors of his house. Even the pastor. For many years I had a joke written in every birthday card I received. The last one that I remember was something about a monkey and a lawnmower. haha!

Cancer took him from this life 9 years ago and it still saddens me to this day that he's not here to walk through life with me. To hear me sing at church, to walking down the proverbial aisle (I got married at the lake). But I have peace in knowing that he is with the good Lord above telling him jokes and making him laugh. He would have no shame in that. hee hee!

So in honor of Pa's birthday, the recipes for today are Banana Pudding and Cinnamon Rock Candy.

Banana Pudding

2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafer cookies

In medium saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs and stir well. Stir in milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and continue to stir, cooling slightly. Stir in vanilla and butter until smooth.
In 9x13-inch dish, layer pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers. Chill at least one hour in refrigerator before serving.
Pa always added cool whip to his. So be sure to add it to yours too!

Cinnamon Rock Candy

1 cup water
3 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1 teaspoon red liquid food coloring
1 teaspoon cinnamon oil
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with foil; butter the foil and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine water, sugar, corn syrup and food coloring. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar crystals.

Uncover; cook on medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees F (hard-crack stage), about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in cinnamon oil (keep face away from mixture as odor is very strong). Immediately pour onto prepared pan. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Break the candy into pieces using the edge of a metal mallet. Sprinkle both sides of candy with confectioners' sugar. Store in airtight container.

Happy birthday Pa! What do John the Baptist and Winnie the Pooh have in common??? Their middle name!!

Have a good Monday!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gnocchi, a great alternative to pasta!

Some days I just sit at home and wish that I was of Italian heritage so badly. I mean, what's not to like about great food, women with great hair, and olive skin!? As I was daydreaming today (about being an exotic Italian goddess) I am going to prove that it doesn't take a real, bonafide Italian to make great Italian food! Today, my recipe is for Gnocchi. It's a great alternative to pasta and you can serve it a multitude of ways. I'll even give you some ideas later in the post!


4 large russet potatoes, fork-pricked
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting.

Bake the potatoes at 425F until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly, then halve and scoop the flesh into a medium size bowl. Mash the potatoes well with a fork. Add the egg, cheese, butter 1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste; stir with fork until combined. Add the flour and stir to make a rough dough, then mix well with hands until smooth.
Gather the dough into a ball on a floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12" long, 1/2" thick log with your hands. Cut the logs into 1" pieces.
These are able to be frozen and useable for up to a month in a sealed container.

When you are ready to use the gnocchi in a dish, you will need to boil them in a pot over medium heat. They should rise to the top when they are cooked through. Once cooked through, you can serve them with your favorite sauce: alfredo, traditional red, or a fabulous bolognese sauce.

Another option would be to bake the gnocchi. Set your oven to 350F. Toss the gnocchi with salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a marinara sauce for an appetizer.

Have a fabulous Saturday Gnocchi style! Ciao!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fun Friday!!

First of all I just have to share my latest happy customer. Is he not the cutest thing ever!?

His mommy said he was so proud of it that you would've thought that he had painted it himself! That's what I love about painting!

So in keeping with the fun things for this Friday I've got a great recipe for a fabulous GNO (Girls Night Out)!!

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes with Pink Lime Buttercream Icing!

• 1 box SuperMoist Vanilla Cake Mix
• 3 egg whites
• 1/3 cup oil
• 1-1/4 cups ready-made Cosmo drink mixer

Make cupcakes according to box directions, swapping out 1-1/4 cups Cosmopolitan drink mix for the 1-1/4 cups water called for on the box.

Pink Lime Buttercream Icing
• 8 Tbsp butter, softened
• 8 oz cream cheese, softened
• 2 Tbsp lime juice
• 2 Tbsp Cosmo drink mixer
• 1 tsp lime zest
• 5-1/2 cups powdered sugar
• Red or pink gel icing colors (a little red gel will make hot pink)
• Clear sugar sprinkles

In a large bowl: combine butter, cream cheese, lime juice, Cosmo mix, and lime zest. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and continue beating until smooth. If icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time. Tint icing with food coloring. (Gel icing colors enable you to tint icing without watering it down.)
Spread or pipe icing onto each (completely cooled) cupcake. Garnish with sprinkles, a lime twist, or a lime wedge.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My first restaurant review!

I had a lunch with a girlfriend from high school that is vacationing with her family and her sweet little baby boy. We tried out a restaurant that I hadn't been to before and it inspired me to do restaurant reviews for local places here that vacationers can look up and try!

Today we went to Ciao Bella in Silver Sands.

I had heard nothing but great things about the food there and today was my day to try it out.

They have a very extensive and reasonable menu. And if you haven't gathered already, it is an Italian restaurant. They have many bistro-gourmet type pizzas as well as pastas and sandwiches. I would consider them average priced for the beach ($8-$20 per person). The portion sizes were large.

Today I had a calzone with procioutto, spinach, and onions. It was delicious.

So for all you outlet mall shoppers I would highly recommend Ciao Bella. It is a rather small establishment with self serve seating, so you will need to plan ahead. The peak eating times get packed fast. So for a convenient place with great food, good air conditioning, and a place to rest your weary feet, check them out!

Happy Thursday!