Thursday, April 29, 2010

A few of my favorite things.....Mother's Day!!

There are only 9 shopping days left until Mothers' Day. All those Moms, New Moms, Grand-moms, Godmothers, and Aunts and especially Expectant Mothers deserve something special every year, so I have found a few things that may be good suggestions for every type of mom. If she is an entertainer, chef, fashionista or an athlete you are sure to find something special on this list. Happy Mother's Day!

For the fashionista Mom, this stylish and really, really cute apron from Jessie Steele would be perfect. This is just one of the many patterns that are on the website. The coated cotton fabric is great to keep her fabulous outfit clean in the kitchen. If you want to do a cute basket of items to match there are pot-holders too!

Denis and I took a cooking class at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and it was so much fun. We took a couples class, but there are many other recreational classes offered, I can't wait to go back. They offer gift cards too, so she can pick a class especially for her. Great for the Chef type Mom!
Cook Yourself Thin: A Delicious Way to Drop a Dress Size and Cook Yourself Thin Faster: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
This cook book is great! Denis and I have the first one, Cook Yourself Thin: A Delicious Way to Drop a Dress Size the recipes are really easy, lo-cal and delicious. The Scrumptious Skinny Meatballs, part Low-fat Penne and Vodka with Meatballs post was taken from this book. This is great for anyone trying to loose not just Moms, the recipes are not only delish but healthy too!

I really love yellow and I thought this collection of hand-painted stoneware was adorable. They are painted with an all over honeycomb design and tiny bees, the cutest!

I know this t-shirt isn't exactly cooking or baking related (it does oven in it) but I thought it was soooo cute and fun for the Mom to Be.

So I "literally died" (Rachel Zoe quote) when I saw this! This might be one of the most fabulous things I have ever seen. Most women are shoe lovers and this would be great for the Mom that loves to shop.

I love personalizing for anything and this is such a creative way to do it. This website offers different options for you to create a personalized recipe card. There are a wide range of facial features, then you add your own wording and they print and ship them to you. Pose Prints also as options for invitations, stationary and announcements all with the ability to add a beautiful face, especially Mom's!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday Night Dinner Party

A few of my friends from Marist came for dinner on Friday night, we had such a blast, as always. I love having people over and trying new recipes. So we started out with shrimp scampi on garlic toast. The recipe is designed as a main course so instead of serving it in individual bowls I served it all in one dish. It was really easy and quick. I provided the recipe for separate servings below. For the main course I decided on a simple rosemary chicken and potato dinner with a homemade pesto caesar salad and garlic cheese bread on the side. I doubled the recipe and cooked it in a dutch oven instead of the skillet as the recipe suggests. The chicken wasn't as crispy as I had hoped but I think if I had browned 4 pieces first then removed them, then brown the second 4 pieces of chicken it would have been crispier. For desert I decided to try a molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream. It needs to be served warm so I was able to make the mix before everyone arrived and let it sit. While we were finishing dinner I pre-heated the oven and threw them in for a few minutes when we were done. The recipe calls for mint but I am not a fan so I substituted semi-sweet chocolate bits, next time I want to try caramel. The only thing I wish I had done differently is to grease the ramekins better. They didn't come out as pretty as I had hoped, because they stuck a little, but they still tasted great!

  • Shrimp Scampi with Garlic Toasts
  • Pesto Caesar Salad
  • Skillet Rosemary Chicken
  • Black Angus Garlic Cheese Bread
  • Molten Chocolate Cakes with Vanilla Ice Cream
Shrimp Scampi with Garlic Toasts
Food Network Magazine
Serves 4


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
8 1/2 slices crusted bread (I used a round french loaf and used 8 pieces)
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
3/4 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth (I used wine)
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving (I didn't serve with lemon wedges because I changed the way it was served)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives


1. Preheat the broiler. Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes and cook 1 to 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Brush both sides of the bread with some the garlic mixture and arrange on a baking sheet. Broil the bread until toasted, about 1 minute per side. Divide the bread among 4 bowls.

2. Place the skillet with the remaining garlic mixture over high heat. Add the shrimp and toss to coat, then stir in the wine and lemon zest and juice. Transfer to the broiler and cook until the shrimp are pink, about 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to the bowls.

3. Return the skillet to high heat and boil the cooking liquid until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and chives. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and simmer 1 to 2 more minutes; pour over the shrimp. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pesto Caesar Salad
Cooking Light Magazine
Yields 6 servings (there was definitely enough for 8 servings)


3 ounces French bread baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cooking spray
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup organic canola mayonnaise, such as Spectrum
3 tablespoons refridgerated pesto
4 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 garlic clove, minced
12 cups torn romaine lettuce


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Place bread in a large bowl; drizzle with oil. I used a large zip lock baggie to coat and I also added a little garlic powder too. Arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden, turning once.

3. Grate 2 tablespoons cheese; shave remaining cheese to equal about 6 tablespoons. Set shaved cheese aside.

4. Combine grated cheese, mayonnaise, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine croutons and lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle mayonnaise mixture over lettuce mixture; toss to coat.

5. Place 1 1/3 cups salad on each side of six plates, top each serving with 1 tablespoon shaved cheese.

Skillet Rosemary Chicken
Food Network Magazine
Serves 4


3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
Kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each) I bought larger pieces and had the butcher halve them for me
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

2. Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic , 2 teaspoons of salt and red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste with a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.

Black Angus Garlic Cheese Bread
Serves about 12


1 baguette French bread
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup shredded Monterary Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch of whole scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced, and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Split the French bread loaf in half horizontally. Make several lengthwise slashes into the surface of the cut side of the bread.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, cheeses, mayonnaise, scallions and garlic until well blended.

3. Use a flexible spatula to spread the mixture on to the cut sides of the bread, working some into the slashes.

4. Bake cut sides up until the cheese mixture is melted, 6 to 8 minutes, then place under the broiler until bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

5. Cut the slices and serve.

Molten Chocolate Cakes with Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine
Serves 6

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, 6 ounces chopped for cake mix, 2 ounces chopped for inside of the cakes
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
14 ounces of ice cream, such as Haagen Dazs


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease and flour 6 ramekins. In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water, whisking until smooth. Remove the insert from the pan.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and granulated sugar at high speed until pale and very thick, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate mixture, then the flour until just combined.

3. Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins and submerge 4 tiny pieces of the semi-sweet chocolate. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until slightly jiggly in the center, 12 to 14 minutes.

4. Invert the cakes onto plates, wait 20 seconds and remove the ramekins. Top with ice cream and serve immediately.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NFL Draft Night Cookies

I decided to surprise my husband and his friends with some cookies for their NFL Draft "party". They took a little while but once I got the hang of the lettering it was easy. Can't wait for football season!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

As I have mentioned before mac and cheese is one of our favorite foods. So when I was reading Food Network Magazine from this month and found this recipe, Denis and I knew we had to make it immediately!
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Food Network Magazine - April 2010
Serves 6 to 8


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken ( we bought 2 rotisserie chickens to be safe, and 3 cups ended up using almost 1 1/2 chickens)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot suace and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

4. Spread half of the macaroni mixture in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.

5. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes (we found 40 minutes was best). Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A few of my favorite things.... Spring Table Accessories

Since we have had such a nice spring for the first time in a long time, I thought I would find some cute spring table accessories. Just because this is for spring, it doesn't mean that they have to be in pastel colors. I love the combination of aqua and silver/grey, its great for spring time entertaining!

I thought these napkin rings were super cute. They would definitely work great for Easter dinner as well, and Mother's Day. Z Gallerie also sells them in silver. Alternating aqua and silver would be pretty as well.

I love this combo, and this grey set of napkins is a great accent to the cute jeweled napkin rings.

These tealights would look so pretty as the centerpiece on your table. There are a few ways to display them. For a round table, placing a round mirror under about 5 tealights would be a great combination of the aqua and silver. Or if you have a long rectangular table, individual tealights placed on smaller mirrors displayed in a line down the center of the table, would look great too. You could use as many as you need to fit the table. I'm always a fan of decorating in odd numbers, so depending on the length of your table I would use 5 or 7 or even more. Below is an example of round table mirror from, the company also sells sets of smaller 2" mirrors.
10" Round Glass Centerpiece Mirror from

I found this White Venetian Tablecloth at Sur La Table as an example, but you could get one anywhere. Since you have such great napkin rings and centerpieces you really only need to have a simple table covering. A textured white tablecloth for a round table or a white runner for a rectangular table would help to complete you tablescape. If you choose to use a white table runner, I recommend using the runner as a guide line to place the single mirrors with tealights.

I really like how springy these plates look and the color is a great compliment to the table. It also brings in the butterfly and flower accents. And what is even better, they are dishwasher and microwave safe!

Sweet Baby Jack Carrot Cake

For Easter along with the cookies, I made my first carrot cake. I picked Paula's Sweet Baby Jack Carrot Cake because I didn't need to shred any carrots. I wasn't sure how the baby food would work but it made the cake really moist. For a little garnish I sprinkled cinnamon around the outside. After tasting the carrot cake, it confirmed for me that Paula Deen can not go wrong with deserts, she is definitely my go-to desert lady.

Sweet Baby Jack Carrot Cake
Paula Deen
Serves 16

Butter, for greasing the pans
Flour, for dusting the pans

For the cake:
2 cups self rising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
2 (4-oz.) jars strained carrot baby food
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

For the icing:
1/2 cup (1/2 stick) of butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) box of confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (8 of 9 inch) cake pans.

For the cake:
Mix together the flour, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well with a hand held electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Invert into lint free dish cloth or waxed paper (I used wax paper) and allow to cool completely.

For the icing:
Mix all ingredients with an electric hand held mixer until smooth and creamy.

Frost layers, top and sides of cake.

Note: The icing just makes it all over the cake, so I think when I make this again I would possibly double the icing recipe. Plus the icing is amazing!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa with Cilantro with Spanish Rice

I recently bought Rocco Dispirito's new cookbook Now Eat This! 150 of America's favorite comfort foods: All under 350 calories. We absolutely love it! I have made this recipe for Enchiladas twice and it is so yummy. I did leave off the cilantro garnish because I am not a fan. I have found that people either love it or hate it and I don't think it takes away much of the flavor for this great dish. As a side I made a really easy spanish rice from Cooking Light.

Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Cilantro
Rocco Dispirito: Now Eat This!
Serves 4

  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • Four 9-inch low carb tortillas, such as La Tortilla Factory
  • 2/3 cup fat-free spicy bean dip such as Desert Pepper Trading Company
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • One 12 ounce jar tomatillo salsa, such as Ortega
  • 1 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese blend, such as Weight Watchers
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring to break it up a little, until it is just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, using flameproof tongs, char the tortillas lightly on each side over an open flame, or toast them under preheated broiler. (I toasted ours in the toaster oven broiler) Keep the tortillas warm by covering them with a clean kitchen towel as you go.
  4. Stir the black bean dip into the turkey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Lay the tortillas on a work surface, and divide the turkey mixture among them. Fold the sides of the tortillas in over the filling and roll the tortillas up tightly to encase the filling. Lay them side-by-side in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  6. Spoon the salsa over the tortillas, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the enchiladas are hot throughout, 10 to 12 minutes
  7. Sprinkle the cilantro over the enchiladas, and serve.

Cooking Light
Serves 3

  • Vegetable Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup uncooked instant rice
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup green bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped. (If you use a pair of kitchen scissors to chop the tomatoes in the can it makes the process easier with half the mess.)
  • 1 (5.5 ounce) can of tomato juice

Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add rice, onion and bell pepper; saute 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; simmer, for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Note: I used brown rice for some extra fiber and it takes about 10 minutes to absorb all the liquid.

A few of my favorite things.... Little Girl Kitchen Accessories

Recently 7 friends of ours have had baby girls in the past 6 months! So exciting! And little girl clothes and accessories are the cutest. So I found a few "kitchen" worthy items that I thought were cute for now and in the future with their little girls.

I thought these were a great baby gift! This plate is great it is dinnerware and dishwasher safe and of course super cute!
This will be so cute on their little chefs, when they are old enough to get their little hands dirty.

This book is sure to be fun with their little girls.

Every little girl is a princess! And the princess decorating set from Williams Sonoma is perfect for them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Cookies

This was my first try at Easter/Spring cookies and they were definitely fun to make. I really enjoyed making the the pastels with the icing. I brought them with me to the Denis's parents' house for Easter dinner and served them in an Easter basket. They were a big hit with his niece.

Easter Eggs

Easter Bunnies

Springtime Flowers