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Monday, April 30, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato & Asiago Cheese Jalepeno Poppers

Jalepeno peppers. I only eat them when chopped fine, mainly in salsas. However, when I went to the produce market last week, I only need two peppers, but they only sold them in a package of 16. Being that they were only $1.15 for the entire thing, I just picked them up and figured I'd use them for something. Since I was hosting Bunco this month, I decided that I was going to make Jalepeno Poppers as one of our appetizers. I've never made them before so of course, I had to give them a little Mediterranean flare with the sun dried tomatoes and basil. Now, I can only go based on the reviews of 11 other women, but they all LOVED them. They were so easy and quick to make too...BONUS! 

Sorry for the picture by the way. They were half gone when my friend Cindy asked me if I had taken a picture of it yet. (See, they know me too well! lol) Remember  on my Blogiversary post when I mentioned  about the pitfalls of being a food blogger and parties...doesn't mix well  or at least the pictures aren't as good. I guess I'll have to make these again when I have some more time to photograph them better. Anyone want them when I'm done?! ;)

Sun Dried Tomato & Asiago Cheese Jalepeno Poppers
10 Jalepeno Peppers
4 oz. Low Fat Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4 c. Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Cut the jalepeno peppers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, rinse under cool water and place on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, Asiago, tomatoes and basil and blend together until all ingredients are smooth. Using a small spoon, fill each jalepeno half with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the breadcrumbs and spray with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until the tops have lightly browned. Makes 20 poppers. 

Nutritional Information per 1/2 Pepper: Calories 42, Carbs 2g, Fat 3g, Protein 2g


P.S. It's also Day 1 of the 3-5 Day Jump Start I posted this past Saturday. Good luck for all of you who are taking the challenge with me! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sausage, Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna, Chinet Bakeware® Product Review & Giveaway!

A couple of weeks ago, Chinet® contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their new products...a disposable bakeware line called  Chinet Bakeware®. I was THRILLED to say the least because I am already a HUGE fan of Chinet® paper products and only buy their plates when serving on disposable dishes for parties, especially because I owned light colored couches!

The day they arrived I was so excited. I opened the box to find one set of each size along with wonderful packaging, clear instructions, neutral green colors and sturdy disposable bakeware with lids. They were beautiful and are perfect to take along to a party without having to worry about getting your dish back! I couldn't wait to get started to see how this paper product was going to hold up in an oven so I decided to make a lasagna for dinner. 

I didn't have any marinara sauce in the freezer so I opted to make a cream sauce. I didn't want all of the added calories of heavy cream, especially since I was using sausage, so I used 2% milk, then thickened it up with a roux. As for the cheese, I used shredded (since hubby went shopping and couldn't resist the block of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese), but you can use grated as well.  The lasagna was incredible, but very rich and had a robust flavor so a small piece with a tossed salad was perfect for dinner. 

As far as the pan...AWESOME! Even after taking it out of the oven the outside wasn't extremely hot to touch, but was steamy and hot on the inside. I would definitely purchase this product, especially now that picnic season is underway. Here is a little information about the bakeware directly from their website.  "Introducing Chinet Bakeware® baking pans. The first disposable baking dishes that let you take your food from oven to table to freezer to microwave, all in one attractive, non-stick pan. And because it's from the Chinet brand, strength and stability are built in. Bakeware is designed to be sturdy and dependable no matter what you've got cooked up. And not only does it look good, but you can leave it behind without worrying about losing your favorite permanent pan. Made in the USA of 90% recycled material, Chinet Bakeware is finally an idea in disposable bakeware that isn't half-baked."

They come in four convenient sizes in sets of two including the pan and clear plastic lids: Square 8"x8", Rectangular 9"x13", Oval 7"x11" and Oval 7 1/4" x 9 1/4" (just don't put the lid in the oven!)

Sausage, Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna with a Parmigiano Reggiano Cream Sauce
1 box Barilla® No Boil Lasagna Sheets (15)
8 Links Italian Sausage, casings removed
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 - 10oz. Package White Mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 - 10oz. Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained
4 c. Prepared Parmigiano Reggiano Cream Sauce
1 c. Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

In a large saute pan, add the sausage, break apart and cook until there is no more pink. Next, add in the garlic, spinach and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms start to soften. Set aside. Using the 9"x13" disposable Chinet Bakeware®, ladle a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Next, add 5 lasagna sheets then top with half of the sausage mixture. Add some of the sauce to the top of the sausage, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Place another layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining sausage mixture and remaining mozzarella cheese. Top with the last 5 lasagna sheets, pour remaining sauce over the top then sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and bubbly. Serves 12-16. 

Parmigiano Reggiano Cream Sauce
3 tbsp. Butter
4 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
4 c. 2% Milk
2 c. Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, melt butter then stir in flour forming a roux. Add in the milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir until the cheese melts and sauce thickens; approximately 10 minutes. Makes 4 cups

Nutritional Information:
12pp Calories 491, Carbs 26g, Fat 30g, Protein 31g
16pp Calories 368, Carbs 20g, Fat 22g, Protein 23g

Since I received one package of each size, I will send, not one, not two but three lucky readers a sample 2-pack to give this new product a try. Simply tell me what you would make in this new disposable bakeware and comment below. (Don't forget to include your email address if you're not currently a follower so I can contact you if you're chosen as a winner!)

Winner 1: One 2-pack 8"x8" Chinet Bakeware®
Winner 2: One 2-pack Oval 7 1/4" x 9 1/4"Chinet Bakeware®
Winner 3: One 2-pack Oval 7"x11" Chinet Bakeware®

Giveaway entries will close on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 9pm EST and the winners will be randomly selected using and announced on Thursday, May 3, 2012.  GOOD LUCK! 

I'm also excited to have my Morello Cherry Almond Crisp recipe on their site as well so go check it out!

Disclaimer: I received these products free from Chinet®. All opinions are my own based on my own personal experiences. For more information on Chinet Bakeware® or where you can purchase this new product locally, visit their website!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3-5 Day Jump Start to Weight Loss with Lauren Kelly Nutritionist

You may or may not have heard me speak about my foodie friend Lauren Kelly who happens to be a Certified Nutritionist as well as the Staff Nutritionist at The Bar Method in Montclair (for those of you in the Northern NJ area).  She has put together this 3-5 day Jump Start to Weight Loss that I'm going to be participating in next week and thought it was such a great idea, I had to share it with all of you. I'll still be posting recipes this week, but this is just the push I need to help rid me of those extra pounds before summer vacation comes knocking! Here is her plan from her original post. I can't wait to get started on Monday and look forward to hearing all of your successes (and flops too because let's face it, lifestyle changes are Hard with a capitol H!). GOOD LUCK! xo

Three – Five Day Jump Start to Weight Loss with Clean Eating


So the weather is getting nicer and the clothes are getting smaller (YIKES!) I get asked all the time about cleanses and detoxes these days.  It seems like most people are looking for the latest “quick fix”.  I get it.  People want results. NOW!  In order to live healthy and maintain a healthy weight, you need to do one thing…CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE! Personally, I don’t believe in restricting certain food groups or severely cutting back on calories to lose weight.  If only it could be a s easy as “Eat when you are hungry” and “Stop when you are full”, everyone out there would be happy with their bodies! So instead of drinking cleanses and taking “detox” pills, why not  eat only clean, unprocessed foods and no added sugar for 3-5 days to give yourself a JUMP START?

Here’s what you need to do:
  • start each morning with hot water and 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon (must be on empty stomach to flush out toxins)
  • no coffee , just green tea (aim for 3-5 cups)
  • 1 gallon of water a day which you can add lemon, mint or ginger to
  • no dairy (except plain greek yogurt)
  • no bread/pasta/rice (only quiona or rolled/steel cut oats)
  • opt for 2-3 “juices*” a day if you want to juice, otherwise load up on fresh raw veggies.  No more than 2-3 fruits each day. * Juices are only homemade with fresh veggies and fruit
  • no sugar at all (besides the fruit and that includes honey and artificial sweeteners)
  • no carbonated beverages at all (obviously no soda but also no seltzer)
  • if you want to do vegetarian, load up on raw or steamed beans (mix with raw veggies and lime juice)
  • if you aren’t doing vegetarian, choose only lean white meats and fish and either steam, grilled or baked  (Herbs, garlic, lemon, lime, even fresh orange are great to season. Lean means=center cut boneless pork chops or loin, chicken breasts)
  • hard boiled eggs are great, only 1 whole egg per day, but egg whites are unlimited
  • All nuts are great.  Make sure they are raw and unsalted.  Also, no more than 14 nuts per serving, 2 servings a day.
  • Lastly, make sure you get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  Now, I know those who have kids, sometimes kids don’t get the memo.  Try your best by going to bed early each night!
Besides flushing out your system with all the water, you are only eating unprocessed foods, which you will feel lighter and should give you more energy.  This is a great way to focus on whole foods and add tons of vitamins and nutrients to your diet.
After the 3-5 days try to eat as many unprocessed foods as you can throughout the day.  Prepare for the week ahead by stocking your refrigerator with fresh fruits and veggies and lean proteins.  
GOOD LUCK!!  Happy CLEAN Eating! :)
Sample Menu
Green Tea
1 c. Cooked Rolled/Steel Cut Oats
1 c. Fresh Strawberries
Baby Carrots
Spinach Salad with Fresh Vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc). Squeeze fresh lemon, orange, or lime juice on top and season with some fresh ground black pepper.
14 Unsalted Almonds
Apple dipped in plain yogurt
Green Tea
Grilled Chicken Breast
Steamed Green Beans
Quinoa cooked in chicken broth or water

Water, water water!
1 Gallon of Water = 128oz. (that equates to 8 - 16oz. Plastic Water Bottles)

Lauren can be found on Facebook and her Blog, Lauren Kelly Nutrition

Friday, April 27, 2012

1 Year Blogiversary & Giveaway

Well, today marks 1 year since I started this blog so you'll have to tune in next Friday for my Seafood Frenzy Friday segment. :)

After being laid off last April, I didn't know what I was going to do next but I knew I didn't want to be in the same place I had been for the last 13 years. My kids were getting older. My husband was traveling more and more for work. Life in general just became busier and I was unhealthy, physically and emotionally. I lasted for  about 1 1/2 weeks with no set schedule and while seeking other employment, I managed to clean out every closet in my home, get my house back in some assemblance of order and even tried to help out with yard work (me + electric trimmers =crazy ass looking shrubs...they don't let me have those anymore!). Then I got bored. Oh God was I bored. If I had to clean my floors one more time I was going to scream (I hate mopping floors worse than cleaning the bathroom!). 

I needed to find a new outlet to throw myself into, so I decided that I would organize my recipe box by typing up those cards from family/friends and magazine cut outs (you know the ones you swear you'll make some day but never get around to it). I wanted to organize them into specific categories so that when my children, nieces and nephews were looking for something, I had it. The only problem was that there weren't that many of my recipes in the box and the ones I did have of my own, didn't have any measurements, only ingredients. You see, I started cooking at such an early age, that I very rarely make the same thing the same way twice, let alone measure anything. 

As I started to make some of the recipes, this time documenting the amounts of what I was including, I was typing them into a Word document. It wasn't working out that well so I looked online for programs to create my own cookbook. I thought I could just put everything into one place and print it out. As I was researching, I kept coming across information pertaining to Food Blogs. Hmm...I've heard of them, but never actually read one before. My A.D.D kicked in and I was all over the internet highway doing some research. In a matter of hours, I had decided I was going to create my own food blog. I could keep everything all in one location, and only print out what recipe I needed, all the while saving the carbon footprint..PERFECT! Now mind you, this was done in a matter of hours. I have to laugh now because my husband had gone out early on a Saturday morning to run errands, came home 4 hours later and as he walked in I announced that I started my own food blog. He had this  bewildered look on his face, but he loves me and he went with it. (All the while I could tell in his eyes he was thinking, "What cockamamy thing is she getting herself into now?").

This blog has become like a child. I have nurtured it, made mistakes, more importantly learned from them and am constantly challenging myself to make it better and more meaningful to everyone that reads it; whether it be in the recipe itself, photography, or writing skills, it's all a work in progress and I'm so glad you are all here to witness my journey. I LOVE blogging and I never would have thought those words would ever escape from these lips. I have made wonderful friendships with people that live all over the world, many of which have the same passion for food and life as myself. We share each others successes and joy and I'm so blessed to have found, and be a part of this wonderful foodie community.  

Now, I can't imagine not being a food blogger and hear how so many bloggers get to this point and hate it because they've put too many demands upon themselves. And I'll confess, there are times when I'll be laying in bed thinking "Did I schedule that post?" or "Don't forget to to make something new with that chicken your making tomorrow night so you can take a picture of it". It's all good. Do what you love, the fun comes naturally!

I'm so fortunate to have family and friends who are loving, supportive and encourage me all the time, but life of a food blogger isn't all roses for them. For example, before they can eat anything, I have to take a picture of it or make extra to photograph it at another time. It's especially fun when it's during a holiday "Don't eat that yet, I just have to take one more shot!" lol   I also have this new obsession with placemat's, napkins and serving pieces, but if it weren't for the "special" plates, I think my youngest would still be eating frozen chicken nuggets!

THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart for taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say each day. I am truly grateful and I love hearing your comments whether it's here on the blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. It just makes it that more meaningful knowing that you're enjoying these recipes as much as I've had creating them (and my daughter says she's had a great time eating them too, even though she gained a few pounds!). If you have any suggestions on how I can make this blog even better, please don't hesitate to let me know! 

And now, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE to give things away, here is your chance to win this outdoor picnic bundle, just in time for summer entertaining!

The Giveaway Includes (all non-breakable):
1 - 8 1/2 Gallon Beverage Party Tub
1 - 2 1/2 Qt. Beverage Pitcher
4 - Indoor/Outdoor Placemats
Set of 4 10" Dinner Plates
Set of 4  20oz. Bowls
Set of 4 14oz. All Purpose Stem Glasses (perfect for wine, sangria, mixed drinks)
Set of 4  18oz. High Ball Glasses (perfect for iced tea, water, soft drinks)
30 Reusable Ice Cubes (I love these! Add them to your glass and they keep your beverage cold without watering down your drink)

How to Enter:
All you have to do is comment below.  That's it! Anything at all....good or bad (I have broad shoulders, I can take it!). If you're not a follower of the blog, please leave your email address along with your comment so I can contact you if you win. 

The Giveaway will close on Friday, May 4, 2012 at 9pm EST and a winner will be randomly selected using and announced on Saturday, May 5, 2012

Good Luck!

P.S. I'm still accepting entries for the 2012 CEK Home Grown Chef Contest until May12th so get those entries in asap! Click HERE for details and submission information. 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rosemary & Lemon Seasoned Pretzels

Oh my goodness! I can't believe I've had this recipe floating around on my computer since last September and I completely forgot to post it. So I've decided to share it with you all today since it is Pretzel Day! 

My sister in-law Barbara first made these years ago with different seasonings and they make a great snack food item for tables, especially if you're hosting a party. So when it was my turn to host Bunco last September, I decided to give her recipe a twist and used rosemary and lemon instead. These were delicious and SO easy to make. They'll last approximately one week as long as you keep them in an air-tight container. 

Rosemary & Lemon Seasoned Pretzels
1 box Sour Dough Pretzels
2 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1 Lemon, zest only
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Break apart pretzels into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, lemon zest, salt, pepper and oil and mix well; coating the pretzels. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gremolata Roasted Potatoes

Before I begin with my recipe for today, I have to finally admit I've gone and done it. I'm 3 days shy of my 1 year Blogiversary and I had my first FLOP!!! Well, I guess technically it wasn't a flop, but I was experimenting with a new breaded chicken and roasted cauliflower with lemon zest and Indian curry powder (which I've never cooked with before) and my husband came home to tell me he's allergic to curry! REALLY??? After 17 years of marriage, you didn't think it would come up in conversation even AFTER I showed you I bought it?! Anyway, crisis diverted and we wound up going out to dinner but that was the first time we actually couldn't eat one of my experiments. Though I have to say, when we did come home, the house stunk, and took windows to be opened and candles to be lit for the remainder of the night just to get rid of the smell. I guess I won't be cooking with curry anymore...back to the drawing board! :)

And now for the recipe...Gremolata always includes grated lemon peel, but after that it's up to intrepretation.  Most, but not all recipes include parsley and garlic and according to Wikipedia, most include anchovies when made in Milan. I just like the freshness of fresh herbs mixed with lemon and this simple combination of flavors was fantastic on these baby roasted red potatoes. 

Gremolata Roasted Potatoes
1 lb. Baby Red Potatoes
1/2 Lemon, zest only
1/2 c. Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Wash potato skins well, cut in half then place in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add the lemon zest, parsley, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Serves 4. 

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 
Calories 190; Carbs 20g; Fat 11g; Protein 4g


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grilled Chicken Oregano over Fresh Baby Spinach with a Lemon Poppy Vinaigrette

I LOVED this dinner! The chicken had a fantastic, simple flavor though I wish I had found some fresh oregano that didn't look like death warmed over to use. Instead, I opted for the dried version. Even still, the chicken was incredibly moist and the lemon poppy vinaigrette mixed with the spinach was very light and paired well with this dish. You can add whatever vegetables you wish to the salad, I just went simple as I was yet again in a hurry. 

Grilled Chicken Oregano
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts, trimmed

1/2 c. Canola Oil
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken to a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade. Seal bag, coat the chicken well, and refrigerate for several hours. Grill chicken until it has reached the proper internal temperature. Serves 4.

Fresh Baby Spinach Salad with a Lemon Poppy Vinaigrette
9oz. Bag Baby Spinach Leaves, washed
1/2 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 Plum Tomato, chopped
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1/2 tsp. Poppy Seeds
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 c. Canola Oil
Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, poppy seeds, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Pour over the spinach and toss well; coating all of the leaves. Makes 1/3 cup. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Black Bean and Corn Salad

As I'm writing this post I have to laugh because one of my dear foodie friends Bia, from Rich and Sweet, has just posted almost the exact same recipe on her Facebook page....Great minds indeed! I also wanted to post this today because today is National Picnic Day and what goes better at a picnic than a salad! (though it does seem a little early in the year for it here on the East coast). 

I'm still trying to use up those 12 cans of black beans I purchased a couple of months ago and was looking for a salad to go with a new BBQ rib recipe I was experimenting with (recipe to follow!) and thought a nice black bean and corn salad would go nicely. Because fresh Jersey corn isn't in season yet, I opted for the frozen kind but I can't wait to make this recipe again using the butter sugar corn (my favorite blend) when it's in season. This salad was deliciously light and was a big hit. Even my little one, who usually doesn't eat anything that has the word "bean" in it, loved it! 

I also found a great website called MyFitnessPal, thanks to my friend Patty, to help track nutritional information. You can even use it to look up certain restaurant items as well. Just type in Chili's Salad for example and it will give you a list with all of the nutritional information...awesome app! I'm using it myself to log my daily calories (and it's FREE..sorry Weight Watchers, not going to pay the monthly fee any longer!)

And for those of you eyeing up my new Sangria pitcher in the background, I purchased it at Chef Central and it's amazing! Not only is it pretty, it also has a "pinched" spout so that the fruit doesn't come toppling out when you try to pour it into the glass. 

Black Bean and Corn Salad
1-15oz. Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. Corn 
1 Roma Tomato, finely chopped
2 Scallions, chopped
1 Lime, juice only
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. White Vinegar
3 tbsp. Canola Oil
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 (1/2 cup servings).

Nutritional Information:
Calories 130; Carbs 17g; Fat 6g; Protein 4g 

Shared at Amee's Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Fridays 8/3/12

Shared at This and That Foodie Friends Linky Party 8/3/12

Shared at Weekend Potluck 8/3/12


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carrot Cake Easter Bunny Cake

I know Easter is over, but today is Jelly Bean Day and since the only time we eat any sort of jelly beans in this house is on Easter, specifically for this cake, I figured I'd share it with you and you can make it next year!

Every year, for as long as I can remember, we have made a bunny cake for Easter. It was originally made with yellow/white cake, white frosting and coconut on top to make it look like a fluffy bunny. My kids LOVE to decorate one every year, but no one really ate it because we're not huge coconut fans in this house. So last year, I made a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and this year I opted for a carrot cake with homemade cream cheese icing. Turns out, this was the best version for our family as carrot cake is just about everyone's favorite. I even make it easy on myself (since I'm usually preparing most of the other food too) and I buy the Duncan Hines Decadent Carrot Cake. I LOVE this brand as it has actual dried carrots and raisins that you reconstitute before adding it into the mix. The cake is extremely moist and you don't have to shred any carrots (besides, baking cakes/pies...not my thing!). 

Carrot Cake Easter Bunny Cake
1 Package Duncan Hines Decadent Carrot Cake

Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in two-8" round cake pans. Remove from oven and let cool. 

Cream Cheese Icing
1-8oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c. Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 c. Confectioners Sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar or 10x sugar)
1 tbsp. Milk

Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Next, add the vanilla, sugar and milk and mix until well blended. 

Jelly Beans
Black Licorice

Place one round cake on a flat board or serving platter. With the second round cake, cut out the 2 ears. The middle will become the bow tie. Ice the cake with the icing, then decorate using the jelly beans for the eyes and mouth and the licorice for the whiskers. 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ham and Cheese Calzones

When I was in high school, we were permitted to leave the school grounds for lunch and I don't know how many times my friends and I would walk to Steve's Pizza (where I also used to work) for their calzones. Funny how that was over  25 years ago and I haven't had these since, let alone make them. We had so much ham left over from Easter that I decided to give these a try since when I mentioned the idea of these, my kids had no idea what they even were...I know right, what kind of mother am I? I did opt for making them on the healthier side using part skim cheeses and baking them instead of deep frying (which is how they used to make them years ago) and they devoured them! I guess I will have to make these again because you can stuff them with just about anything you'd like. :)

Ham and Cheese Calzones
2 lb. Pizza Dough
15oz. Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 c. Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 c. Ham, chopped 
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp. Parsley
1 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cut the dough into four equal parts and place on a flat working surface. Drizzle a small amount of oil onto the dough so that it doesn't stick to the working surface or your hands and stretch out into 8" circles. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Top each dough with the mixture only filling half of the circle. Fold over the other half of the dough onto the topping and seal by pinching together. Place calzones on a baking sheet and brush on some oil so that it browns nicely. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve by itself or with Marinara Sauce.  Serves 4. 


Friday, April 20, 2012

Week 15: Seafood Frenzy Friday AND Guest Blogger

Welcome to Week 15 of Seafood Frenzy Friday where I select seafood recipes around 'foodie land' to showcase for all of you since I don't eat any fish myself.  Today I have ten new recipes for you to try. Simply click on the name of the recipe underneath the picture to be taken to the author's original post.

I am also happy to be a Guest Blogger for Katrin over at Running with Devil(ed) Eggs while she is on her honeymoon, so exciting! Stop by and check out my recipe for Caramelized Bacon & Onion Clam Chowder (how appropriate was getting this posted on Seafood Friday!) and wish her the best of luck! 

La Difference Catering

oui, chef

Rich and Sweet


I Like to Bake and Cook

One Lovely Life

Mia's Domain

Once Upon a Chef

Lisa's Dinnertime Dish

Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thank you all for allowing me to share your delicious looking recipes! 

I've also created a board on Pinterest called CEK's Seafood Frenzy Friday's and have posted each week separately...all in one place for you to access (you do have to follow my board in order to access it)! Now you can pin it, share it, comment, whatever you'd like. The link takes you back to my original post where you can click on each recipe individually and be taken to the original author.
 Happy Pinning!  

Oh, one more thing! You still have time to submit your recipes to CEK's 2012 Home Grown Chef ContestI've extended it to everyone, including other food bloggers, so get your thinking caps and enter before May 12th!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Since today is National Garlic Day, I thought I'd share the Garlic Roasted Asparagus I made with our Easter dinner. I'm not a huge fan of asparagus, though I did try it again just to make sure. (Just not my cup of tea). However, my husband is a huge asparagus fan and he LOVED it this way! Though how could anything with garlic be anything but good. :)

Did you know that garlic has many health benefits? 
According to an article I found on Huffington Post, some scientists believe the components in onions and garlic may be key to the research observations of generally lower incidence of cancer and heart disease in people who consume large amounts of garlic and onions, compared with those who eat less. A study from the National Cancer Institute found that eating 10 grams (approximately two teaspoons) or more of garlic, onions or scallions a day was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk of prostate cancer for the participants in the study. A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University indicated that garlic may help reduce the occurrence rate of pre-cancerous tumors (polyps) in the large intestine. 

Many cancers are thought to be caused by damage to DNA, often induced by environmental toxins. A study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that eating a teaspoon of fresh garlic and a half cup of onions per day increases the levels of a key enzyme for removing toxins in the blood cells of healthy women. Another study, conducted in Scotland, found that eating sautéed onions increases the resistance of the blood cells to DNA damage. While a highly publicized clinical trial at Stanford University found that garlic did not lower cholesterol levels in healthy people with moderately elevated cholesterol, previous studies have indicated that garlic is more likely to produce beneficial effects on cholesterol in women than in men, and in patients with diabetes or heart disease than in healthy individuals. 

So grab some gum or mints and eat to your heart's content! 

Garlic Roasted Asparagus
1 Bunch Asparagus
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Trim the asparagus by cutting off about 1" from the bottom. Rinse under cold water and add to a double boiler. Steam asparagus for approximately 5 minutes so that it has softened but still firm. Add the asparagus to a bowl along with the garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Serves 4. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zucchini Parmesan

Last week during our Spring Break, my oldest daughter had to have her four impacted wisdom teeth removed. I know, I'm not getting the Parent of the Year Award for this one, but it was the only time we could do it so that she would have enough recovery time before going back to school. She did fantastic! She kept ice on/off all day for about four days (probably overkill but she felt more comfortable with it), only needed to take painkillers for the first day and a half (then started getting a rash so now we know she's allergic to Percocet) and ate soft foods like pastina, fruit smoothies, and soup. By the third day, she was looking for something with a little more flavor so I decided to experiment with the zucchini I had just purchased. I made it the same way I make my Eggplant Parmesan and thought it would be soft enough for her to chew. She LOVED it (we all did), and since zucchini season will be here before you know it, you might want to give this recipe a try! I always have homemade sauce in the freezer for last minute meals but you could also use jar sauce if you prefer that. 

Zucchini Parmesan
2 Large Zucchini
2 c. Italian Breadcrumbs
1 c. All-Purpose Flour
Egg Wash (3 Eggs + 1/4 c Milk, whisked together)
Canola Oil, for frying
2 c. Part Skim Finely Shredded  Mozzarella Cheese
Marinara Sauce, as needed

Prepare 3 separate bowls. One for the flour. One for egg wash and one for breadcrumbs. Wash the outside of the zucchini and leaving the skin on, cut it in half lengthwise, then slice it 1/4" thick. Dip the zucchini first into flour, then egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs. Heat approximately 1-2" of oil over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan. Gradually fry the zucchini until it is browned on both sides. Drain the zucchini on either paper towels or brown paper bags to remove as much excess oil as possible. In a large baking dish, coat the bottom with a thin layer of marinara sauce. Next, add the fried zucchini, top with sauce and cover with some of the cheese. Repeat layering until all of the zucchini is gone. You should have some excess sauce left. Bake at 350°F for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. 

Marinara Sauce
2-28oz. Can Hunts® Crushed Tomatoes
2-6oz. Can Hunts® Tomato Paste
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
28 oz. Water

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and basil.  Sauté until garlic starts to get lightly browned and add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cheese and water. Let simmer for 1 hour; stirring occasionally. Makes 7 cups.