This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ranch Pork Chops

Wow, this swap reveal day almost got away from me!  Things have been crazy lately, but in a way, that proves exactly why this meal is great.  It takes practically no time to make, only uses 3 ingredients, and can easily be reheated.  (I made it a few hours in advance and did just that)  And it was dee-licious.

My assignment this time around was Dawn's blog, Simple Gourmet Cooking, and there was some great stuff to choose from!  I'm definitely going to try the homemade caramel coffee creamer soon...it looks so good.  And dangerous :)

Keep this dish in mind when you're too busy to think straight - which I'm guessing will be the case for many of you this month with the holiday madness.  It's a no-brainer!

Ranch Pork Chops
from Simple Gourmet Cooking

boneless pork chops
ranch dressing
Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Trim pork chops, if necessary.  Place dressing in one bowl and bread crumbs in another.  Coat pork with dressing, followed by bread crumbs, and place on baking sheet.

Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes (depending on thickness of meat).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crockpot Roast with Cranberries & Sweet Potatoes

It's already snowed twice here in NJ, and it isn't even December yet!  Temps have dropped and winter is right around the corner.  This screams comfort food...especially comfort food made in the crockpot.  Nothing like coming home from work after a snowy ride home and having dinner ready for you right then and there!

This was a great dish - and a nice switch from my usual pot roast recipe that I use when I have this cut of beef.  The Dijon mustard adds a nice layer of flavor to it.  And sweet potatoes are always welcome!  Put this on your menu - you won't regret it.

Crockpot Roast with Cranberries & Sweet Potatoes
slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean

2 sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bag fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon rosemary
black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 4-5 pound bottom round roast

Put garlic, onion, cranberries and sweet potatoes in crockpot.  Add mustard, rosemary, pepper and vinegar.  Stir to combine.  Place roast on top and add chicken broth.

Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove roast and slice or shred.  Return to crockpot and stir in to cover with broth.  Serve.

Serves 5-6.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oopsy Daisy Cake

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  Full of fun, food, family and friends, I hope?  And please tell me you ate too much...because, you know, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving unless you did.  This cake definitely sent me over the edge.

Not long ago, I mentioned on my Facebook page that my sister's brother-in-law went to Baked (which he frequents fairly often) and picked up an autographed copy of their latest cookbook, Baked Elements.  Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.

Since Tony's birthday is this week, I told him before Thanksgiving that he could pick any recipe from the book, and I'd bake it for him and bring it to dinner.  I was super excited when he chose this, since it's actually a favorite of mine after browsing through it.

Baking this cake served as a reminder that I need to pick up 8 inch round pans.  I know this cake would have looked much better if it were baked in them, rather than my 9 inch pans.  Good thing it didn't affect the taste...

I could barely finish my piece, especially with all the other great desserts that we had to choose from.  And I kicked myself for not bringing home a leftover piece!  Sigh.

If any of you have this book, please tell me what you've baked from it and how it was (I'm sure amazing will be the answer, but just incase)...and if you haven't made anything yet, tell me what you'd like me to make next!  I'm open to suggestions :)

Oopsy Daisy Cake
slightly adapted from Baked Elements

for the milk chocolate layers:
2 ounces high quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) butter, softened and cut into cubes
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the peanut butter filling:
1/2 stick butter, softened and cut into cubes
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the vanilla peanut butter frosting:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 sticks butter, cool but not cold, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon peanut butter filling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the assembly:
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
3-4 ounces high quality dark chocolate, shaved

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter two 9 inch round pans (they recommend 8 inch), line bottoms with parchment, and butter parchment.  Dust with flour and knock out excess.

Place chocolate and cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl.  Pour hot coffee directly over it and whisk until combined.  Add milk and whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added.  Add vanilla and beat until mixed in.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick comes clean out of centers.  Transfer pans to wire rack and cool 20 minutes.  Invert cakes onto rack, remove pans and let cool completely.  Peel off parchment.

to make the peanut butter filling:
In bowl of stand mixer using paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until smooth.  Add peanut butter and beat on medium-low speed until just combined.  Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Set aside.

to make the vanilla peanut butter frosting:
Whisk sugar and flour together in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it comes to a boil and has thickened, 10-15 minutes.

Transfer mixture to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat on high until cool, about 7 minutes.  (You can speed this up by pressing bags of frozen fruits/veggies against the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  I did not do this, FYI.)  Reduce speed to low and add butter.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Increase speed to medium-high and heat until frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.

Add peanut butter filling and vanilla and continue mixing until combined.  If frosting becomes too soft, put in fridge to chill a bit, then beat again until consistency is correct.  If it's too firm, set bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with wooden spoon until consistency is correct.

to assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer on serving platter.  Trim top to create a flat surface and evenly spread peanut butter filling, followed by a thin layer of vanilla peanut butter frosting.  Add next cake layer, trim it, and frost top and sides with remaining frosting.  Sprinkle peanuts around perimeter of cake and shave chocolate all over the top.

Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver, for up to 3 days.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday full of good friends/family, good memories and of course, good food :)  Enjoy your day tomorrow!

Here are some ideas incase you're still menu planning.  And don't forget your stretch pants!

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Leek & Bacon Bites

Buttermilk-Thyme Drop Biscuits

Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

Un-stuffed Artichokes

Simple Cranberry Sauce

Sour Cream Pumpkin Streusel Cake

Cinnamon-Mascarpone Baked Pears

Caramel Apple Cake

Labels: ,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes

Soooo, are you all set for the big day?  Got your menu planned?  Food shopping done?  Dishes dusted off and ready to go?

Or...none of the above???

Since I know there are at least a FEW slackers out there (haha) I figured I'd post a super easy side dish that can be prepared in no time.  You've probably got all the ingredients on hand already, and would just need to make a quick trip to the store for the potatoes.

It's a nice switch from the run-of-the-mill sweet potato dish topped with marshmallows that you'll find on most Thanksgiving tables.  And best of all, it's delicious!

Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes
from Allrecipes

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until fork tender.  In a large skillet, melt butter.  Stir in sugar, brandy and salt until smooth.

Drain potatoes and add to skillet.  Cook over low heat, stirring gently, until potatoes are coated with glaze and heated through.

Serves 12.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crockpot Cheesy Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This time of year always has people searching for game day recipes.  So, Sarah definitely had the right idea by choosing it as a theme for our recipe swap this time around.  I received Ashley's blog, Cheese Curd in Paradise, who is a big Packers fan and has probably made this dish for a few Cheeseheads ;)

I usually go with my aunt's old standby recipe for hot artichoke dip, but this was nice for a change of pace.  Plus, the ease of making it in the crockpot (and serving it that way, too!) always helps.  This was delicious with pretzels and raw veggies.  And don't be fooled by the low cal ingredients - it was delicious, with the added bonus of being healthier than the full fat version!

Maybe I'll make this when the Giants are in the Super Bowl again this year ;)  Thanks for a great recipe, Ashley!

Crockpot Cheesy Spinach & Artichoke Dip
slightly adapted from Cheese Curd in Paradise

12 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour into crockpot and heat on low until warm and gooey.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash

How could you not love something so delicious, especially when it's ridiculously easy to make?

And I repeat...easy to make.  Not easy to CUT.


But once you get through the tough part, it's a breeze.

Stuff it and make it an entree - or leave it like this for a simple side.  Perfect this time of year!

Roasted Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half (carefully!), then clean out seeds and fibers.  Rub oil all over the inside, then season with salt and pepper.

Cook inside up for 45-55 minutes, until it can be easily poked with a fork.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mascarpone Swirled Brownies

Umm...need I say more?

I didn't think so.

Mascarpone Swirled Brownies
from Shared Sugar

2/3 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, plus one egg yolk
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9 inch baking pan.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Melt both chocolates with butter oven low heat in a saucepan.

Once melted, remove from heat and mix in 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla.  Whisk in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Whisk dry ingredients into chocolate mixture until batter is smooth.

In another bowl, mix mascarpone with egg yolk, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Pour half of the batter into the pan.  Spread half of the mascarpone over the batter.  Add other half of batter, then top with remaining mascarpone.  With a knife, swirl batter around to achieve a marbling effect.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.  Brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Linked to:  Sweets for a Saturday

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Healthy Bacon & Pumpkin Pasta

Another week in the fall, another can of pumpkin to use.  I remember the great canned pumpkin shortage from 2 years ago - for some reason the stuff went like hotcakes - so Frank returned home from the grocery store one day last year with about a dozen cans.  Needless to say, I haven't had to shop for it this year...

Now, combine it with bacon and you may be in trouble...as in, you'll love it so much, you'll have to keep going out for more.  This combination is deliciously addicting!  

Plus, it's not nearly as bad for you as many other mac n cheese varieties.  Oh and it takes about 20 minutes to make.  LOVE!

Healthy Bacon & Pumpkin Pasta

2 cups uncooked pasta
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 ounce light cream cheese
1/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper
1/3 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup chopped scallions

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and return to pot.  Turn heat on low.

Add pumpkin, cream cheese, milk, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix until cheese is melted and ingredients are warmed through.  

Divide between 2 bowls.  Top with bacon and scallions.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie

I hope everyone had a great Halloween, because around here, it barely existed!  Bella's school finally had their Halloween parade 2 days ago.  Trick or treating was postponed over a week, then turned out to be a big dud.  A whole lot of anti-climactic excitement, thanks to that bitch named Sandy :(

I guess there isn't much you can do about it except move forward...so, let's focus on Thanksgiving!

I actually made this a few weeks ago, before Sandy trampled through our area, when I was feeling the Turkey Day spirit.  This is a perfect leftovers dish (you can easily sub turkey breast for ground turkey), or something to make when you're looking for a healthier version of the real thing.

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk (add slowly incase it isn't all needed)
salt and pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 can corn, drained
1 1/2 cups string beans, slightly steamed (best if still a bit crunchy)

Boil potatoes until soft.  Drain and put back in pot.  Add butter, milk, salt and pepper, and mash until smooth.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a large skillet, then add onion and garlic.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Add turkey, thyme and garlic powder, and cook until no longer pink.  Add corn and string beans.  Stir together and cook a few more minutes.  Remove from heat.

Put turkey mixture in a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes.  Cook for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Ham and White Beans (Support for Sandy)

Once again, proof that the food blogging community is awesome.

Barbara from Creative Culinary and Jenn from Jenn's Cuisine have teamed up for a great cause.  Their idea to have bloggers participate by cooking something comforting to bring to those in need is a brilliant one, not to mention, heartwarming.   As someone who was right in Sandy's path and has seen the devastation that she's caused firsthand, it's even more special.

(and by the way, we're currently in the middle of a Nor'easter, but I digress...)

During the hurricane I baked a ham and brought much of it to family/friends.  Naturally, I kept the ham bone, and searched for something different (and easy) to do with it.  This recipe was exactly what I was looking for.  Ironically, I read about this initiative while the meal was cooking away in my crockpot...perfect timing!

It really is pure comfort in a bowl.  Plus, you can reheat it on a gas stove when your power is out...which, as many of us in this area now know, is imperative when you're in the dark for over a week.

Looking to contribute to those in need?  Here are a few options:

American Red Cross:  providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or  you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army:  focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.

Feeding Americaproviding food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.

Participating bloggers will be tweeting using the hashtag #FBS4Sandy...please join in the conversation!  And please visit Barbara and Jenn's blogs to check out the link party that includes all of the warm, comforting dishes.  

Hope all of my neighbors are staying safe...Jersey Strong!

Slow Cooker Ham and White Beans
barely adapted from Plain Chicken

1 pound bag dried Northern beans
1 ham bone (or leftover ham, shanks, etc)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 cups water
salt and pepper

Rinse beans and sort through to pick out pebbles.  Add beans, garlic powder, ham, salt and pepper to crockpot.  Add water.  Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours (crockpots will vary, remember!), until beans are tender.

Remove bones and pull off meat.  Add meat to crockpot and mix.  

Serves around 6-8.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Baked Ham with Mustard Orange Glaze

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  This month, I was assigned a terrific blog called Edesia's Notebook.  Lesa has a wide variety of great looking recipes...there were so many to choose from!  I took a look at her recipe index when I first got my assignment, bookmarked about 5 of them, then had a pretty busy few weeks.

And then came Hurricane Sandy.

We were hit HARD here, as I'm sure most of you know.  More devastation than this area has ever seen before from a natural disaster.  There is a TON of work to be done to rebuild, many have lost their homes and possessions, and there are still an overwhelming amount of people without power, one week later.

There is only so much you can do for others during a time like this.  My husband, who is a licensed electrician, has been spending a lot of time at the homes of family and friends, hooking up their generators for maximum usage.  It's what he does well.

And me?  My contribution was what I do well...feed people.

There's something super comforting about a baked ham.  And it feeds a LOT of people.  Perfect for a time like this.

The glaze was delicious and used ingredients that I had on hand, which was great since the majority of our grocery stores have either been out of power, or low on inventory.  We enjoyed some of this ourselves, and I made a great (and easy!) meal with the bone...come back here later in the week to check it out.

I definitely recommend this for those of you who make ham for the holidays.  Thanks for a great recipe, Lesa!

Baked Ham with Mustard Orange Glaze
slighty adapted from Edesia's Notebook

1 ham, bone-in, approximately 10 pounds
1 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup brown mustard

Remove ham from refrigerator and let stand for about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Score fat (don't cut into meat) in ham in a diagonal crosshatch pattern.  Place in a roasting pan, flat side down.  Bake for about 2 1/2 hours (15 minutes per pound).

While ham is baking, combine juice, sugar and mustard in a bowl and mix.  Remove ham from oven and increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Pour half the glaze over the ham and brush to coat.  Return ham to oven and remove every 10 minutes to baste, for a total of about 40-45 minutes.

Serves around 12.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 2, 2012

A plea from NJ...

There is still so much devastation here in my home state that I feel the need today to reach out to my readers.  I'm not sure how much you are still seeing or hearing about if you don't live in the area, but there are still a LOT of people without power, and the gas shortage is becoming a big issue.  People are waiting for hours to fill up their tanks or gas cans, and unfortunately it's causing crime as well.

Looting, siphoning gas, home break-ins...even stealing right out of peoples' hands in grocery stores (since only some are open, and most are short on emergency supplies/perishables)...all are happening more and more.  Safety is definitely a concern in many places.  The National Guard has been called in to certain shore areas, and one of them told a friend of mine that this is 10 times worse than what was happening after Hurricane Katrina.  They, along with local authorities, are barricading certain neighborhoods and checking IDs before allowing people in.

This is the shorepoint that we spend much of our time at - our beach house is right off this island and fortunately for us, is still intact (damaged, but standing!).  The island is completely devastated.

This is a picture of the hot tub that landed in our front yard (and where are our front steps?)...feel free to laugh at this one :)

The town of Hoboken, where I lived for 10 years (and where I met my husband!) is underwater...

                                                                (photo from New York Times)

This sight has become a regular occurrence around here - line for gas - waiting 3+ hours isn't uncommon:

                                                                                          (photo from nj.com/Star Ledger)

The boardwalk that I grew up on, and that my daughter has grown to love...countless memories...

and nearby...

My favorite city in the world, under devastation, AGAIN...we know we can rebuild as we have done it before!  This is a shot of my husband's building, very close to Ground Zero, with a completely flooded concourse level.  Many offices in Lower Manhattan aren't expected to reopen for a few months.  His building is hoping to resume business in a couple of weeks.

Please take the time to watch NBC (or any of its affiliates) tonight, as they are airing a commercial-free one hour telethon to raise money for those who have lost their homes, possessions...even their lives.  Please watch, listen, and perhaps donate if you are able.  Every dollar counts!  The Salvation Army website also has information on how you can help.

Thanks for reading, and please spread the word!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Penne alla Boscaiola

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Ginny of Cooking with Chopin regarding a wonderful cookbook (published by her mom!) called A Family Farm in Tuscany.  She asked if I'd be willing to be part of the book's blogging book tour.  Once I heard the basic premise of the book, there was no way I could refuse!  All I have to say is, I was easily transported back to my family's homeland as soon as I cracked open the cover.

Sarah's content focuses mainly on her farm, Fattoria Poggio Alloro, and how family traditions tie into it.  Any reader of mine knows that this hits close to home for me!  I loved it and could relate to a good amount of her stories.

I tried my best to narrow down what I wanted to make, and believe me, it was hard!  I also wanted to keep the dish seasonal, so that limited my choices a bit, but I can't wait to dig deeper into this amazing cookbook.  The articles, pictures and recipes are all amazing.  So interesting, detailed and REAL.

Since we love pasta in this house, I naturally gravitated toward a few pasta dishes, and ended up making this one.  Delicious, easy, make ahead, freezer friendly...what more could you ask for?

If the hurricane didn't hit us so hard these past few days, I definitely would have tried another recipe.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do so due to power outages and store closings.  I will definitely be preparing more of these amazing dishes soon, so keep an eye out for them!

The bottom line is: I HIGHLY recommend picking up a copy for yourself!  This cookbook is a gem.

Penne alla Boscaiola (Lumberjack Mushroom Penne)
slightly adapted from A Family Farm in Tuscany

1/2 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
16 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bella)
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounces Italian sausage, removed from casings and broken into pieces
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes (I used plum tomatoes, and crushed them by hand)
1/2 cup warm water***
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt to taste
1 pound pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large dutch oven, add oil, then onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook down for about 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cook for one minute, then add sausage.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until sausage is cooked through.  Add tomatoes, water, red pepper and salt.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cooked pasta to pan of sauce and stir together.  Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.

***I didn't add water because I used whole tomatoes and the liquid from the can, so extra liquid wasn't necessary.  If you use crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, add the additional 1/2 cup water as the recipe states.

Labels: , , , , ,