Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30th Birthday Centerpieces

A few weeks ago I co-hosted a Surprise 30th Birthday for my friend Annie. Instead of doing traditional centerpieces I decided to make cookie centerpieces. The invitations and all the tablecloths, plates, napkins, etc were pink and green so naturally I stuck with that theme. I put them in vases and then wrapped the vases with pink tissue paper and hot pink ribbon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bacon and Tomato Cups

So honestly anything with bacon is amazing and this little appetizer was no exception. These little bites were so tasty I made them for 2 parties within a week. They tasted like bite sized BLTs. The best part, so easy to make. The recipe says it serves 15 but I was able to get 24 bites out of it, with left overs of the bacon mixture. It also suggests to slice the biscuits in half, but I thought they were too big for the mini muffin pan that way. In order to fill all the mini cups I ended up separating the biscuits into thirds. Although making them all the same thickness was a little challenging, I found one brand that worked better than the other. The first time I made them I used Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits and the second time I used Shop-Rite Butter Flavored Biscuits. I found that the Shop-Rite brand was easier to split, and split evenly. I also used cherry tomatoes instead of a whole tomato as the original recipe called for, to make them more bite sized. I do recommend using Oscar Meyers Thick Cut Bacon instead of regular sliced, so you taste more bacon in every mouthful. Definitely recommend these for your next party.


8 bacon slices, thick cut recommended
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (16 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until evenly brown. Drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon into a medium mixing bowl, and mix with tomato, onion, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and basil.

3. Separate biscuits into thirds horizontally. Place separated biscuits into cups of the prepared mini muffin pan. Fill each biscuit with the bacon mixture.

4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jungle Themed Baby Shower Cookies

Recently I made favors for a jungle themed baby shower. The Soon-to-be-Parents don't know what they are having yet so it was very neutral. I matched all the cookies to the invitations their family and friends sent to guests. Congrats to the Parents-to-Be!

The whole group...





Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chicken Tetrazzini

My Mom used to make chicken tetrazzini a lot growing up and we have a tradition of having it every Christmas Eve so it is just as much a comfort food to me as mac and cheese, pizza, or french fries. I am also always
looking for new casserole dishes too and this one jumped out at me because it served 12 and I could freeze it. The recipe has a note at the bottom saying its ok to freeze for up to 1 month, well we loved this dish so much that it almost didn't make it 2 weeks. I actually lightened the recipe too by using reduced fat soups, fat free chicken broth and reduced fat Cheddar cheese (Weight Watchers to be exact) and it was still really creamy and cheesy.

Chicken Tetrazzini
Southern Living
Serves 12


1 (16-ounce) package vermicelli
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (6-ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese


Prepare vermicelli according to package directions; drain. Return to pot, and toss with chicken broth.

Stir together chopped cooked chicken and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl; add vermicelli, and toss well. Spoon mixture into 2 lightly greased 11 x 7 -inch baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with Cheddar cheese.

Bake, covered, 350 degrees for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Note: Freeze unbaked casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, and bake as directed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Little J Shower Cookies

I made these cookies a few weeks ago for my friend Jillian to use as favors at a baby shower. The happy Mom and Dad couldn't decide on a name, but both of their options started with "J". The soon to be parents have been calling him "Little J" so that is what Jill requested for the cookies, so cute!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meatballs a la Pizzaiola

Frying is definitely not my specialty, so when I started this recipe I was a little nervous. I have ruined a few things because I tried to fry them. But I asked for an oil thermometer from Santa Claus and it made it so much easier to control the heat. I was using a meat thermometer before and it didn't register high enough temps to fry food. I did burn the first few meatballs, (oops) but the rest of them were delish and I served them with a side of marinara sauce. I also made them a little bigger than appetizer size but still served them as an app. Denis ate the left-overs later in the week and they still tasted great.

Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 35-38 Meatballs


8 ounces smoked mozzarella
2 large shallots, chopped
1/4 cup (5 to 6) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck (80% lean)
1 pound ground pork
Olive oil, for frying
Vegetable oil, for frying
Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dice the smoked mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until combined. Form into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs. Insert 1 cube smoked mozzarella into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, enclosing the cheese.

3. In a large heavy-buttoned saucepan, pour equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil to fill the pan halfway. Heat over medium-high heat until deep-fry thermometer reaches 350 degrees. In batches, fry the meatballs until dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

4. Place the fried meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve immediately with marinara sauce, if desired.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Molly's First Birthday

My friend Annie's very cute daughter turned 1 year's old last week and she hosted a first birthday party in her honor this weekend. For their little cupcake they sent out cupcake shaped invitations so Annie wanted the cookies to match the cupcakes. These cookies are my interpretation of the super cute invitations.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Girls Night: Make Your Own Pizza Bar

In our house Friday Night is usually pizza night. So a few Fridays ago I hosted a little get together, just the girls, and I decided to do a Make Your Own Pizza Bar. I thought about making the dough but this was supposed to be a relaxing night so I didn't want to complicate it. I bought pizza dough from my FAV pizza place in Hoboken, Marios Pizzeria and set up little ramekins with different toppings. To roll out the dough I used a rolling pin and mostly my fingers, not as circular as they do it at a pizzeria, but still tasty. Then I cooked the dough by itself, with a little olive oil, for about 10 minutes then we topped them with our toppings of choice. Once we topped them I baked them for about another 15-20 minutes. I had never done this before so it was kind of trial and error, but I kept an eye on them so it came out perfect. For the sauces I used store bought pesto and store bought tomato sauce. All four of us couldn't decide which sauce to use so we all did half and half, so yummo! I also made smoked mozzarella stuffed meatballs (recipe to follow) as an appetizer and Nicole made amazing heart shaped red velvet whoopie pies (really wish I took a pic of those). It was a really fun night and each of our pizzas had a little something different. Honestly what else do you need; good friends, good food, and good wine, equals a perfect night!

Pizza Dough after first round of baking, brushed with olive oil.

Toppings: Pesto, Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Fontina, Feta, Turkey Pepperoni, Turkey Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, Spinach and Fresh Peppers

Allison's pizza fresh out of the oven,

Nicole's pizza, baby loved it,

and Jenny's masterpiece!

Avery's First Birthday!

Our friends' adorable daughter, Avery turned 1 a few weeks ago! For her birthday her Mom and Dad planned a Polka-Dot and Jelly Bean themed bash. I made polka-dot ones to match the plates, napkins and other decorations. I kind of love polka-dots so this was really fun!


Packaged with pretty matching ribbons.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peanut Butter - Caramel Pound Cake

Right before Valentine's Day I was watching the Food Network and Giada De Laurentiis did a Valentine's episode with all sweets. One of the desserts she made was Peanut Butter - Caramel Pound Cake, I was mesmerized! I know I have mentioned my issues (other words; addiction, obsession) with peanut butter before so you know my taste buds were slightly freaking out. I made the pound cake that night, I couldn't help myself. It was pretty simple, however I didn't have the loaf pan size she suggests so I needed to cook it a little longer and when I tested the center too many it caused it to cave in. It didn't look as pretty as her's but it sure tasted amazing! I topped it with a rich vanilla ice cream, such as Haggen-Daz, chocolate syrup and the left over caramel. Later in the week I had a slice by itself, just as delish.

Peanut Butter - Caramel Pound Cake
Gianda De Laurentiis
Serves 8 - 10

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (9.5-ounce) bag soft caramel candies, unwrapped (recommended: Kraft Classic Caramels)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-5-by-3-inch nonstick, metal loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a 14-by-3 1/2-inch piece of parchment paper. Spray with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the sides of the pan with a 14-by-7-inch piece of parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the caramel candies and heavy cream over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the candies have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the eggs and vanilla. With the machine running, gradually add the flour mixture in batches to form a thick batter. Beat in the peanut butter. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of the caramel lengthwise along the center of the batter. Using the tip of a knife, swirl the caramel sauce into the batter. Place the remaining batter on top and pour another 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce lengthwise along the center of the batter. Swirl the caramel sauce into the batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and peel away the parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour (center of cake will fall during cooling). Slice the pound cake and place on a serving platter. Warm the remaining caramel sauce over low heat. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the pound cake slices or serve alongside.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nicole's Baby Shower

My friend Nicole is having a baby, any day now, and for her shower a few weeks ago, her sisters planned a hippo themed bash. Nicole and her husband Matt bought really cute bedding from Target to decorate Baby Beeney's room, so I matched the cookies to the hippos on the bedding. Can't wait to meet him or her!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

I have been baking a lot lately and my blog has been seriously neglected! So I apologize but I am going to be adding a ton of great recipes and entries for the next couple of weeks. This is the first of many.

I few weeks ago Denis and I ate at one of our favorite restaurants in Hoboken, called Anthony and David's. They recently updated their menu and added a Bucatini dish, it was amazing and I couldn't stop thinking about it!! I found this recipe on and it sounded just like my dinner. It was very easy and really yummy, tasted just like what I ordered. Only draw back, it was really nice when someone else cooked dinner.

One last thing, just in case you can't find Bucatini in the grocery store you can substitute Bigoli, perciatelly, pici and other long thick strand pasta.
Serves 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped about 1 cup
3 thick pancetta slices about 1/3 pound, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juice reserved
2 small dried red chile peppers
1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving


1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When butter foams, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook stirring rarely, until slightly crisp, about 3 minutes more.

2. Add tomatoes and their juices and a generous pinch of salt. Crumble in chile peppers, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

3. While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook bucatini according to the package directions. Reserve about 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta but do not rinse, add to the frying pan, and toss to coat in sauce. Add reserved pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

4. Transfer to serving plates, sprinkle Pecorino Romano, and serve immediately.