Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppermint Marshmallows

Those of you who know me know that I love a good marshmallow in the winter!  Nothing beats a hot cocoa with marshmallows after a day of playing in the snow.  It warms you up, tastes good, and hits the spot!  Last year I made marshmallows with cocoa balls for the bunco girls.  This year I made the same vanilla marshmallows AND made some peppermint ones!  Um, YUM!  They are soooo good that I wondered if I could put them in my coffee this morning.  (No I didn't try it...but I probably will!)

Here is the link to last years recipe for the vanilla marshmallows: Homemade Marshmallows with Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate, or you can just click on "marshmallow" over there to the left. 

To make the peppermint marshmallows you simply substitute peppermint extract for the vanilla. Please use PURE extract.  It just tastes better.  Once you flip it out of the pan and remove the foil, you sprinkle the top with more powdered sugar, and cut it into pieces.  I like little squares (plus it's easiest) so I slice it into strips and then cut into pieces.  

Roll into more powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together and put it in a pan or container you will store them in.  Or bag for gifts!

I made a tray of vanilla and a tray of peppermint.  My kids LOVE these and look forward to them every year.  They store well in an airtight container in the pantry.  Give it a try and I promise you, you will not be disappointed! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Salmon with Quinoa and Kale, and a Roasted Shallot and Cherry Vinaigrette

I was watching the food network the other day.  I have been stuck in a the same recipes.  They are all good, but I missed the the fun of cooking something new.  Emeril's Table was on and I had never seen it.  (Reminds me of Molto Mario...copy cat Emeril!)  Anyway, he had a show that I really enjoyed.  He had these nutritionists on and they were raving about quinoa and kale.  Quinoa we make a's fantastic.  I love it, the kids love it, and my hubby loves it too.  I make mine with chicken broth to add flavor to it.  This recipe used balsamic vinegar and dried cherries.  Talk about flavor!  If you are wondering what quinoa it.  Then go out and buy some and enjoy!  

I got the quinoa started first.  Simple:  balsamic vinegar, dried cherries, then quinoa, chicken broth and a shallot I roasted in the oven.  Simmered and fluffed with a fork when done.

Kale is another story...we've never had it.  I went ahead and got it when I did my grocery shopping that same day.  It looks like curly parsley gone wild.  It tastes like a cross between spinach and broccoli, but it has it's own taste.  Definitely give it a try!

Here I've sauted some onion and fresh thyme in a skillet and added the chopped kale.  It's such a bright green!  Later I added chicken broth and dried cranberries to it. 

Another favorite at our house is salmon.  I love it any way you want to cook it.  Its great grilled, sauted, baked, steamed...oh I love salmon!  This time I grilled it in a grill pan about 3 minutes on each side and only seasoned it with salt and pepper.   It's so good on it's own it doesn't need anything really.

To plate the dish you put the quinoa mixture on the bottom, top with kale and then the grilled salmon.

It got a thumbs up from my 10 year old son, Nicholas.

Even Marcus was ready to dig in.  (He's 7!)

I topped my plate with an amazing Roasted Shallot and Cherry Vinaigrette.  Easy to make and really complimented the salmon.  Enjoy!  This is a delicious and healthy dish!

You can find the recipes at Emeril's Table:  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple Crostata

The boys picked these apples at County Line Orchard and they couldn't wait to get home and have mom bake them up!  I must say, if you want a lazy baking dish, this is it.  It's really easy and super delicious!

The recipe came from one of my favorite cooks, Ina Garten.  You can find the full recipe at this link:

Don't forget to serve it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oven-fried Zucchini Chips

If you have a garden or a neighbor giving you zucchini, you probably are wondering what to do with all of it!  You can make breads, zucchini cakes, throw them in omelets, grill them, stuff them and bake them.  I ran across this recipe online the other day and thought.  Why didn't I think of doing this? 

It is so easy too!  I found the idea here:  Oven-fried Zucchini Chips.  It is a new blog to me and I always love discovering a new blog!  You can see I adapted to my own liking and did without the dipping sauce, only because I was soooo hungry.  I plan to try the Basil Dipping Sauce next time!  I am also going to try to skillet fry them next time with just a bit of olive oil and butter.  I will let you know how they turn out.

I used a mandoline to cut these uniform.  

I put salt and pepper on all of the slices, dipped them in milk, and then into the bread crumbs.  You can make fresh breadcrumbs or use store bought.  I used italian style store bought this time around.

Line them up and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes.  They come out super yummy and crispy.  Her recipe has parmesan cheese & onion powder which sound amazing, but I was lazy, so this worked for me.  Enjoy!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jumbo Cupcakes


I absolutely LOVE a good cupcake.  I had a rush order for JUMBO cupcakes yesterday.  Can you believe I didn't have a jumbo cupcake pan?  (I know, right?)  ME...without the perfect pan?  So I did what anyone would do in my situation.  I ran to the store and bought two!

While at the store I found the cutest cupcake boxes ever!  I grabbed enough for the order (plus a couple extra) and ran home to bake the cupcakes in my new jumbo pans!  How much more cake is in a JUMBO cupcake you ask?  A lot!  I usually scoop 1 full large scoop into each cupcake liner for standard cupcakes.  These took a generous three!  I can't wait to make JUMBO muffins in these pans!  And coffee cake....and stuffed cupcakes...and maybe zucchini breads?

I topped white cupcakes with chocolate butter cream frosting and white sugar pearls.  I topped the chocolate cupcakes with white butter cream frosting and mini chocolate chips.  Of course I set aside a couple for my family taste testers.  Needless to say, there were no complaints.  

Here is the link to the boxes that I bought at Michael's craft store by Duff:   Treat boxes

Monday, July 11, 2011

Skirt Steak with Spicy Green Salsa and Sour Cream Potato Salad

I'd never cooked skirt steak until this recipe.  It is DELICIOUS!  What took me so long?  I am a huge fan of flank steak, but this is just YUM.  I got this recipe from Everyday Food's Great Food Fast cookbook.  One of my favorite fast go to cookbooks.  The potato salad is really tasty!

Make this!  You will not be disappointed!!!  I promise you!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

My son Marcus asks me to make macaroni and cheese almost daily.  There is no way I will EVER make that neon boxed macaroni and cheese.  So...many times I will boil noodles, drain them, add some butter, and grate fresh cheese over the top.  I realize this isn't the macaroni and cheese he was hoping for, but it works for him and holds him over. 

I decided it was time to give the boy what he was really wanting.  I found this recipe that is super easy and delicious from Everyday Food's Great Food Fast cookbook.  It is really a great cookbook with healthy, easy meals.  I love it and go to it often.

Once you make the macaroni and cheese you can put it into a large casserole dish or into ramekins for individual servings.  

Top with breadcrumb/cheese mixture and bake in the oven at 375. A casserole takes 30 minutes and my boys were hungry so I used ramekins and cut the time to 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!  This is a family favorite over here!

You can find the recipe at :  Macaroni and Cheese


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Cookies

What a great day to cook on the grill!  I asked my husband what he wanted me to grill for Father's Day and he said, "hamburgers and  hot dogs...REAL hamburgers."  He said that because I always make turkey burgers.  I was thinking he would say steaks or shish-kabobs, but nope, just REAL burgers.  So, I got some ground sirloin and he got his wish.  We had my mom and dad over too, to celebrate Father's Day.  I made LOTS of food.  I always overdo it.  BUT, it was yummy and now I don't have to cook tomorrow.

Here are my naked ties.  I ordered the tie cookie cutter, but it didn't come in time, so I just carved them out.  Not difficult at all, especially since they are all straight lines!

Anyway, I made potato salad, two bean salad, deviled eggs, homemade salsa, lime cupcakes, cookies, and corn on the cob.  Plus we had strawberries, watermelon and chips.  Basically all your grilling necessities.  Plus, I sauteed some mushrooms and onions to go on the burgers and served lettuce from the garden and sliced tomatoes too. was good.  Hebrew National hot dogs are the only ones I buy.  Guys said they were good, so I'll take their word for it.

These cookies were decorated for my hubby.  He is a suit and tie guy.  I love the old cliche that you buy your dad a tie on Father's Day.  He would actually like a tie! 

My dad, on the other hand, would NOT like a tie.  I don't think I have seen him in one more than twice.  So I made these cookies for him:

My dad taught me to build lots of things growing up.  I can handle tools as well as a lot of guys and maybe better than a few!  He also is a retired bricklayer (thus the bricks and mortar with the trowel).  He gets a kick out of my cookies...but really likes eating them.  I thought he would like his very own tool box of cookies, so went for it.

I think they all turned out cute.  I wish I had gotten the cutters, but I think I did okay freehand.  I wonder if they will last till tomorrow?

This is my husband Rafael with his tie cookie.

Happy Father's Day, Rafael.  Your boys think the world of you!  And so do I!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prince Cookies

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE Prince fan.  I love any and all things Prince.  So when my favorite local band (The Unit) was doing a Prince Tribute, I had to make these for the event AND the bassists birthday.  :)  I had a blast making these.  There will be more purple to come too, I had lots of ideas as I made these!

People referred to Prince as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince when he changed his name to this symbol.  It is known as the LOVE SYMBOL.  Although he is back to his old name, I still think this looks awesome and had to make a cookie featuring it!  lol

Free hand Love Symbol is not easy!  Some looked better than others, but I think they turned out great anyway.  Can't go wrong with Prince and Purple!!

The guitars were a must for me too!  Initially I wanted to do the yellow cloud favorite guitar (from the Get Off video), but then I came across this and went with it.  To make this cookie, I printed out a picture of this guitar on card stock and used it as a template to make the guitar.  I cut the dough with a pairing knife.  (Yes, each one was cut out by hand.  Yes, it was a bit of work.  BUT, for any Prince fan....soooo worth it!  lol)

I wanted to put strings on these, but the neck of the guitar was so thin, it just looked a mess when I tried it.  So, I left them with naked frets! 

Here's Jen and I in our PURPLE attire for the Prince Tribute.  
 Such a great hubby...he takes me all the way to Chicago! 
Enjoying the band and people watching. 

If you want to see all of the pictures go to:  Chrome Kiss Photos.  My friend Heidi is an awesome photographer and takes pictures at a lot of gigs. 

Spring Rolls and California Rolls

I LOVE sushi, spring rolls, all things a Japanese restaurant has to offer.  What I could do without is the high price.  Spring rolls and California Rolls are very easy to  make if you have the tools.  You can fill them with anything you like.  

I found the spring roll wraps and the sushi wrap at Meijer in the international isle.  I looked at a few recipes on line for both, but adapted to what I had in the house and what my kids would like.

I filled these with shredded carrots (used a julienne peeler), cucumbers (cut into thin strips or you could use your julienne peeler), baby spinach (cut into thin strips), shrimp (cooked for two minutes or less in boiling water and halved). rice noodles (about 1/4 cup per roll), and chopped scallions (white and green).

You get the paper wet and it softens.  Add your filling and roll, fold in the sides, then continue to roll. Once you make one you will get the hang of it.

For the California Rolls you put the square of nori down and add about 1/4 cup of rice (I used brown rice, but use what you like).  Fill with your choice of veggies and crab meat.  I used imitation crab, cucumber, carrots, red pepper, and forgot the avocado!!!  They were still good though.  You just roll them up and cut them in pieces.

I served them with these dipping sauces:  Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour, and Light Soy Sauce.  I used the Pampered Chef Teriyaki and Sweet and Sour Sauces, but you can use whatever you like.  I like these because there are no additives in them.

I also made a quick soup for my youngest.  He loves rice noodles in soup.  For a super fast soup warm vegetable or chicken broth. Add veggies, noodles and seasoning.  I put what I had leftover from the rolls into the soup.   He loved it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes

So when I decided to make cupcakes for Bunco I found my self thinking back to the blueberry vodka and lemonade cupcakes I made for my friend Billie.  They were my best cupcake EVER.  So...with that in mind, I decided to use it to my advantage and make a lime cupcake, with lime curd and tequila frosting!  Let's just say it worked.  A few dared to say these were even better.  I just know they were fantastic!

If you want to make these, go for it!  Use the recipes from my Blueberry Vodka and Lemonade Cupcakes post and substitute lime for the lemon juice and zest.  When you cut out the center, brush the inside and top of the cupcake with margarita or tequila, and fill with lime curd.  Put the top back on, brush with more prepared margarita or tequila.  Put as much as you like on it!  Then, when you are making the buttercream frosting, omit the vanilla and heavy cream.  Substitute more prepared margarita.  I use as much as I can manage with the frosting still holding it's shape.

Here are the desserts I had out for Bunco.  YUM!

Nutella Twix Bars

These are addicting and you cannot eat just one.  So if you plan to make it, plan to have company!  I came across this idea on a food blog called Savory Sweet Life.  I have been off the nutella for awhile.  It is just too good and I find it calling to me late at night.  I can eat it out of the jar without a second thought.  For that reason, I stopped buying it.  But this recipe tugged at my twix and nutella cravings!  

I did notice she had many more recipes with Nutella featured.  I had to turn away.  I'm going to baby step it back into my life.  I have no will power!

Here are the steps...they are really very easy to make! 

Unwrap 24 caramel squares and cut them in half.  Microwave them for about 20 seconds so that you can squish them together.

Place two honey-wheat pretzel sticks to the caramel.  She recommended the Rold Gold and they are really yummy!

Put the Nutella in a ziplock bag and snip the end.  Pipe a pea sized bead in between the pretzel sticks.

Melt dark chocolate and coat each bar evenly.  Set on parchment paper and allow to harden in the fridge or freezer.  (I put them in the freezer for 10 minutes).

Here is the finished product.  You have no idea how delicious these are!  Make them.  You will not be sorry.  

I think next time I will try a bead of peanut butter down the middle.  Recees twix bar sounds good to me.

Chocolate Caramel Nutella Twix Bars

By Savory Sweet Life 
Makes 12 bars

  • 24 – square caramel candies, cut in half
  • 24 – 4 inch honey-wheat pretzel sticks like Rold Gold or Trader Joes
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips or your favorite type of chocolate
  • optional: sea salt

  • Place caramel halves on a plate in a single layer. Microwave the caramels for 8 seconds, just until they are pliable but still firm. With two pretzels side by side in the palm on the hand, line four caramel halves along the pretzel from one end to another. Gently pushed the caramels down using a thumb and index finger to bind the caramel to the pretzels. Repeat this with all the pretzels and caramels. 
  • Spoon the Nutella into a sandwich bag and cut the tip off. Pipe a pea sized bead of Nutella on the non caramel side of the pretzels. Carefully spread the Nutella across the top surface with the back side of a utensil handle. 
  • Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe container and microwave for 1 minute and stir until smooth. If necessary, microwave for an additional 30 seconds to get the chocolate smooth. Place the pretzel (Nutella side up) on a fork and carefully dip the pretzels in the chocolate rocking the pretzels side to side to get the pretzel bars completely coated. Lift the bar from the chocolate and allow any excess chocolate to drip off. Place bars on a plate or board lined with parchment paper. 
  • Place the board in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or the freezer for 10 minutes to help harden the chocolate coating. 
If you prefer a more salted chocolate caramel candy bar, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt along the top of each chocolate bar after dipping them in chocolate and before placing them in the refrigerator to set.