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Friday, August 31, 2012

Ciliegine Caprese Salad

I know I've made a Tomato and Mozzarella salad before, but this one was a little different because I used Ciliegine or "cherry sized" fresh mozzarella, as well as my fresh Jersey garden tomatoes. I only planted one Roma tomato bush this year and it didn't take well (I have to admit, I'm not much of a gardener); however, my in-laws planted,  and were able to grow, a bountiful harvest of red cherry tomatoes this season. With my MIL still in rehabilitation recovering from her recent hip replacement surgery, I was charged with going to the house to collect all of the tomatoes since they wouldn't be doing much cooking in the near future. I haven't had this salad in a while and thought it would accompany our dinner perfectly one evening. I wanted to add the golden cherry tomatoes as they are much sweeter than the red and gave this salad a wonderful flavor, not to mention the GORGEOUS color (what kid wouldn't want to eat this!). 

I also made a chiffonade out of the basil, which is another way to cut the fresh basil leaves into thin strips. Simply gather rinsed fresh basil leaves, stack them together, roll them into a tube-like shape, then slice the tube thinly into strips. It gives your salad a nice, clean, uniform look. 

Ciliegine Caprese Salad
1-8oz. Ciliegine Mozzarella
1-10oz. Sunburst Golden Tomatoes, cut in half
2 c. Fresh Garden Cherry Tomatoes
2 tbsp. Basil Chiffonade
2 tbsp. Aged Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Serves 6-8. 


Seafood Frenzy Friday (Week 32)

Welcome to Week 32 of Seafood Frenzy Friday where I select seafood recipes from some of my food blogging friends to showcase for all of you since I don't eat any fish myself. Simply click on the name of the recipe underneath the picture to be taken to the author's original post.  ENJOY! 

The Tart Tart

Modern Mrs. Cleaver

Mom On Time Out

Back to Her Roots

Love Bakes Good Cakes

La Difference Catering

Eat Yourself Skinny

Simply Recipes

Kitchen 72

Food & Wine

Thank you for allowing me to share your wonderful looking recipes. 
Wishing you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corona Grilled Pork Chops and The Summer BBQ Calculator

The weekend before last, I had taken out a pork loin roast from the freezer, but we were so busy hanging curtain valances, cleaning and organizing the house that time got away from us. I was no longer in the mood for a roast as the day turned out to be gorgeous. I didn't feel like turning the oven on, so we decided to invite over last minute guests and grill instead. I cut down the roast into chops so we had individual servings and if you've never done it before, it's really quite simple (and economical most of the time too!).  

How to trim down a pork loin:

1. Trim excess fat from the loin on all sides. 
2. Next, mark the the top of the roast with a sharp knife where you will be cutting the meat through to ensure you get even cuts. (I like to start in the middle using that as my guide for the halfway point; then use each half as another guide.) I got 8 chops out of a 2 lb. roast. 
3. Once you have your guide, cut all the way through, trimming any residual fat. 

I don't drink beer myself; however, the alcohol does burn off during the cooking process. These were deliciously moist and so light and flavorful! 

Corona Grilled Pork Chops
8 Boneless Center Cut Pork Chops


1 c. Corona® Beer
2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. Honey


  1. In a small bowl, mix beer, sugar, and salt until it dissolves.
  2. Add lime zest and juice, cilantro and honey and whisk together until well blended.
  3. Trim any visible fat from your pork chop; then tenderize the chop using a meat mallet or the bottom of a glass.
  4. Add the pork chops and the marinade to a resealable plastic bag, and refrigerate for no more than 2 hours.
  5. Remove the meat 15 minutes prior to grilling, discard the marinade then grill the pork chops until the proper internal temperature is reached. Serves 8.
Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories 166, Carbs 1g, Fat 6g, Protein 26g, Fiber .1g, Sugar .7g 
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

The Summer Barbecue Calculator

I was reading the July 2012 issue of Real Simple Magazine while on vacation and came across this article on how much food to make for a summer barbecue and thought it was spot on.  And since this coming weekend is one of the biggest BBQ weekends celebrated in the US, I thought I'd share the tips with you. 

For the Food:

For each guest, you will need:
  • 1 1/2 servings of any burger, hot dog or sandwich
  • 1 1/2 cups total for side dishes or salads combined (for example: pasta salad, coleslaw or potato salad)
  • 2 platters of cut up fruit or vegetable crudites for every 25 people
For the Drinks:
For each guest, you will need:
  • 1 1/2 alcoholic drinks per hour
  • 2 gallons of lemonade or iced tea for every 25 people if you're also serving alcohol
  • If you're going barless, bump up the number to 4 gallons of alcohol-free drinks for every 25 people

Shared at Recipes for My Boys Thursday's Treasures 8/30/12

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waldorf Chicken Salad

Isn't if funny how food trends change? Growing up, I can't remember a picnic without Waldorf Salad, which is a salad made with apples, walnuts, grapes and was mayonnaise based (And for those of you who have never heard of it, it was very popular back in the early 70's).  Though as an adult, I don't think I've eaten it or even seen it as an option on a menu or picnic in years. It's not the healthiest salad you can eat, but I always loved the combination of flavors in the salad. 

I decided a while back that I was going to give it a try this summer but here it is, the end of August , and I still hadn't gotten around to it! I had made a roasted chicken for dinner last Sunday and wanted to make a chicken salad for lunch out of the leftovers, but didn't want the same type I usually make. I decided to combine my favorite chicken salad with Waldorf Salad and this was a hit! It was slightly sweet, crunchy and nutty. I happened to have some apple yogurt to give it a little extra apple flavor, but you can use plain yogurt instead. 

Waldorf Chicken Salad
2 c. Cooked Chicken, diced
1 Apple, washed and cored
1-2 Stalks Celery, rinsed and chopped
1/2 c. Chopped Walnuts
Prepared Dressing

1. Add the chicken, celery and walnuts to a bowl. 
2. Next, chop the apple into bite-sized pieces and add to the chicken. 
3. Add the prepared dressing and mix well. Keep refrigerated. Makes 4 cups. 
1/2 c. Hellmann's Mayonnaise
1/4 c. Yoplait Light Apple Yogurt
2 tsp. Honey
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
Juice from 1/2 Lemon

Add all ingredients to a small bowl; then whisk together until creamy. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three Bean Salad with Feta

I really love bean salads lately (can you tell?!). They hold up beautifully outside in the warmer months, especially if you're serving them at picnics or barbecues. They're also colorful and add a nice contrast to your main dishes. I like making extra so that I can eat them for lunch the next day too as they are healthy and filling. Like most bean salads, this was so easy to prepare and was packed with wonderful flavors. If you're not a fan of feta cheese just leave it out, but it did add an extra creaminess to the salad. 

Three Bean Salad with Feta
1-15oz. Can Dark Kidney Beans, rinsed
1-15oz. Can Black Beans, rinsed
1-15oz. Can Chick Peas, rinsed
1/4 c. Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. Feta Cheese, crumbled

1 Lemon, juice only
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard (I use Grey Poupon)
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 tbsp. Parsley, chopped
1/3 c. Canola Oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
2. Add the beans, onion and cheese to separate bowl, then pour the dressing over the beans. 
3. Mix well and refrigerate. Makes 10-1/2 cup servings. 


Shared on Family Fresh Meals 8/28/12

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clemen-Thyme Baked Chicken Cutlets

So tell me...honestly! What do you think of the name of this recipe? I didn't want to make it too long so Rachael named this one for me. I thought it was kind of clever myself, though she did inherit my warped sense of humor...poor kid! Anyway, the night I made these I still didn't have a working stovetop to fry my chicken cutlets and the kids have been craving them so I wanted to try baking them instead. By using the cooking spray and Panko breadcrumbs, they came out super crispy without all of that added fat and they LOVED these. 

Clemen-Thyme Baked Chicken Cutlets
2 lb. Boneless Chicken Breasts (approx. 2-3 depending on their size)
1 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 eggs 
1/4 c. Milk (I use 2%)
1 Clementine, juice only
2 c. Panko Breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Thyme (you can also use regular thyme), pulled from the stem
Cooking Spray (I use Canola Oil)

1. First, trim your chicken by placing it on a clean cutting board. Place one hand flat on top of the chicken and holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, slice the chicken horizontally from the thickest end to the thin end into 1/4 inch thick cutlets. You should get approximately 7-8 cutlets. 
2. Next, prepare three separate bowls. One for flour. One for the eggs, milk and clementine juice. And another for breadcrumbs and lemon thyme. 
3. Dip each cutlet first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, then place your chicken on top. 
4. Lightly spray the top of the chicken with the cooking spray. 
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway, making sure chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Serves 4. 


Shared at Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms 8/27/12
Shared at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen 8/27/12

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Greek Salad

I just love this salad, especially this time of year when the tomatoes and cucumbers are so fresh from local growers. This salad usually calls for peppers to be added as well, but no one in my family particularly cares for them, so I leave the skins on the cucumbers for that beautiful contrasting color. Speaking of color, not only is it gorgeous, this entire salad only took me about 10 minutes to make...BONUS!

Greek Salad
2 Large Cucumbers, skins washed
4 Plum Tomatoes
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
5 oz. Kalamata Olives
2 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
Prepared Dressing 

1. Slice the cucumbers about 1/4" thick and add to a bowl. 
2. Next, cut the tomatoes into wedges (approximately 6 slices per tomato) and add them to the cucumbers.
3. Add the onions, olives, cheese and prepared dressing and mix well. Serves 8-10. 

3 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Add all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Week 31: Seafood Frenzy Friday

Welcome to Week 31 of Seafood Frenzy Friday where I select seafood recipes from some of my food blogging friends to showcase for all of you since I don't eat any fish myself. Simply click on the name of the recipe underneath the picture to be taken to the author's original post.  ENJOY! 

Shugary Sweets

Closet Cooking

Cooking in Sens

Machelle's Cooking Corner

The Curry Guy

Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

How Sweet It Is

Ari's Menu

Kayotic Kitchen

Rich and Sweet

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Did you ever have one of those days (who are we kidding...weeks, months, years!) where you just can't handle the stress of other people putting demands on you and your personal time so you bake...I like to call it "stress baking". Well it's been a little stressful around here since I've come back from vacation. You see, I'm the ultimate planner, list writer, and schedule keeper. I hate to be late and I hate it even more when I make plans that I have to keep canceling or changing because Joe Blow from So and So company can only come on THAT particular day/time. Well isn't that convenient for you...hello, my name is CUSTOMER! Ok, I think I'm done ranting now. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Garlic & Cheese Croutons

I know what you're thinking. Croutons? What a LAME post THIS is going to be! Well, at least those were the thoughts running through my head before I decided to make these. But then I stopped and said to myself "Self, if this were one of your nieces, would they know how make homemade croutons?" And the answer was a big fat NO. So, there you have it. You get to see how I make homemade croutons out of leftover hot dog buns. And yes, that is what I made these out of. We don't eat a lot of hot dogs (Gab is the only one that really eats them), but my daughter was craving them last week so I bought a package of them, along with the rolls. When I went to put the leftover rolls in the freezer to save them (like I said, she's the only one that eats them and it's only once in a blue moon!), I found another package of hot dog rolls in there that I had forgotten about and since they don't hold up well for too long in the freezer, I made these Garlic & Cheese Croutons; which are the kids favorite kind. 

If you don't have any hot dog problem! You can use any leftover bread you happen to have, but these potato rolls added a nice sweet flavor as well. 

Garlic & Cheese Croutons
6 Hot Dog Rolls (I used Potato Rolls)
1/3 c. Canola Oil
1/4 c. Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1. Add the oil, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk. 
2. Cut the hot dog rolls in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2" chunks. Place in a bowl then add the oil mixture to coat well. 
3. Place the coated bread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, turning halfway, or until the bread is nicely browned. 
4. Remove from oven, let cool completely, then place in an airtight container. Makes 8 cups. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fiesta Turkey Meatloaf

I have NO idea what made me think of adding fresh limes to my ground turkey the other day, but I was certainly glad I did! The summer always make me crave foods that are light and refreshing and limes and cilantro certainly do the trick. I originally wanted to make these as burgers, but as soon as I was about to prepare them, we had this deluge of rain come down and I wasn't about to stand outside and grill them.  If you have some jalepeno peppers, add them as well to give it more of a kick! 

Fiesta Turkey Meatloaf
1 lb. 99/1 Ground Turkey
1/2 c. Tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. Red Onion, grated
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper


1. Mix all ingredients together, then form into a rectangle shape. 
2. Place in an oven safe baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until proper internal temperature is reached. Serves 6. 

Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories 93, Carbs 2.6g, Fat 1.5g, Protein 18g, Fiber .7g, Sugar .5g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 


Shared at Thursday's Treasures 8/23/12

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mediterranean Chick Pea Salad

Last week while my mom was visiting from Florida, we went out for dinner at a local Japanese restaurant for hibachi style dinner. Before they start the "show", you can help yourself to their salad bar where they have this chickpea salad that my daughter loves. It's made with mayonnaise, which I try not to eat that often, so I decided to make my own chick pea salad with a little more flare! This is a flavorful salad idea for a picnic or a guiltless, healthy lunch. 

Mediterranean Chick Pea Salad
1-15oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. capers
1 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 c. Kalamata olives, chopped (about 10)
1/2 c. cucumber, skin on and small dice
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 4. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 30: Seafood Frenzy Friday

Welcome to Week 30 of Seafood Frenzy Friday where I select seafood recipes from some of my food blogging friends to showcase for all of you since I don't eat any fish myself. Simply click on the name of the recipe underneath the picture to be taken to the author's original post.  ENJOY! 

La Receta de la Felicidad

The Black Peppercorn

Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops

A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis



Barefeet in the Kitchen


The Saucy Gourmet

Mia's Domain

Thank you all for allowing me to share your appetizing recipes with my readers. 
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Lunch Ideas

For many of you, kids across the country are starting to return to school, ending yet another summer of fun filled activities. Mine still have a few weeks to go, but I was asked on my Facebook page if I had any suggestions for school lunches. I thought it was a WONDERFUL topic to discuss on the blog and I want to thank Teresa Jones for suggesting it! :)

Though some progress has been made, it is still difficult to feed our children at school because of the unhealthy choices being offered by local cities and states. Even our own First Lady, Michelle Obama, has taken an active roll in making changes in this arena with the Let's Move initiative (Click here for the complete story). For example, our local school district decided they were going to offer healthy lunches; however, when you look at the menu offerings, you see things like Pizza Dippers, Mozzarella Sticks, Corn Dogs and my favorite, Breakfast for lunch which includes French Toast Sticks (frozen), Egg Patty with Cheese (what exactly is an egg patty?) served with Home Fries and Fruit (I guess they can call it healthy because it comes with fruit!).  The funny (or not so funny) part about this is that they banned the ice cream from the building and told parents that they couldn't bring in cupcakes for their child's birthday any more because they were unhealthy. OK then....ANYWAY, this isn't a rant post, but I'll share some ideas of what a typical lunch looks like for my kids. And don't let the title fool you! These are all great selections for adults to bring to work too.

1. Soup-Gabrielle's favorite lunch is soup and she probably eats it 3-4 times during the course of a school week. Buy yourself a good thermos, one meant for food storage, and it will keep your food hot for hours (She had lunch 5 hours after I heated hers up and it was still hot!). I just heat up the soup until it is boiling hot on the stove, then transfer to the thermos.  Here is her favorite,  Copycat Panera Chicken and Wild Rice Soup but she also loves Chicken Noodle. 

2. Cold Cut Sandwiches-My kids don't really like the typical sandwich, mainly because they don't like mayonnaise or mustard. But put cold cuts like turkey or ham in a tortilla wrap with some lettuce and tomatoes and a little Italian dressing and they'll eat it. You can also slice into pinwheels to make it fun.  

3. Chicken Sandwiches-THIS is their absolute favorite! Whenever I make breaded chicken cutlets, I always make extra. They love this on crusty Italian bread with some fresh mozzarella and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing. You can also put some arugula, lettuce, tomatoes on there too. Grilled chicken works just as well and make them into a panini then wrap it the sandwich in foil to stay warm until lunch time like this Grilled Chicken and Pesto Panini

4. Peanut Butter Sandwiches-If your child will ONLY eat PB&J for lunch (I know mine did for about 2 years!), switch it up and make it fun. Make it on a tortilla then roll it up into pinwheels, use an English Muffin or Pita bread and cut them into 6 triangles. If you're children are still young, make the sandwich on bread and use cookie cutters to cut the sandwich into shapes. My youngest will also eat peanut butter and jelly in a cup with a spoon too, without the bread.  Some other alternatives to jelly are Nutella, Bananas and Fluff...get creative!  

5. Salads-Rachael (who is in High School) prefers salads or yogurt for lunch.  She likes to top her tossed salads with beans or leftover chicken or beef to add some protein to sustain her longer as she's in school for about 12 hours between actual school and sports practices afterward. Salads like this Cold Chicken and Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad are her favorites as they are a complete, cold meal that taste great and stands up beautifully for hours unrefrigerated.*

6. Chili or Stews-On those cold winter days like we get here in NJ, a hot thermos full of chili or stew does the trick to warm you from the inside out like this 3 Bean Chicken Chili or this Dijon Cognac Pork Stew.  If you can make something in a Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven, chances are you can reheat it and put it in a thermos for lunch the next day. So make extra at dinnertime to save yourself some time during the week!

Tips for Packing Lunches

1. Make it fun! If you have a teenager like I do, they don't like to make it known that they bring their lunch to school (it's not cool!). So she would use a brown paper bag or a large Ziploc bag and hide her lunch in her purse. That is until my girlfriend started selling Thirty-One products a little over a year ago. They really have some great items and we LOVE their insulated lunch bags. They come in beautiful, trendy designs AND you can have anything you want engraved on them in fun color selections and fonts (see Gabby's name on her bag from last year below). They're also very durable and last much longer than the typical lunch box(I used to go through two of them a year). If you've never heard of them, click HERE to find out more (you can also order online and have them shipped directly to your home!). 

2. *Ice, Ice Baby! When packing lunches for my kids, I take into consideration how long they will be left out before they will be eaten. Most times, I will place a small ice block, (which can be found in your local grocery store or nearby Target or Walmart), in with their lunch to help keep it cold longer. 

3. Write them a note! My kids are 10 and 15 and I don't do it every day, but every now and then I write a little note to let them know that I love them and am thinking about them. They get embarrassed, but I don't care, I do it anyway (and secretly I know they still like them!). If you run out of things to say, they even sell post it books in your local Hallmark store with some great pictures and sayings on them too! 

4. Balance it out!  You already have a head start by packing your kids lunch vs. buying it at school, but I always like to include at least one healthy snack in their lunch as well like fruits or vegetables. My youngest daughter still gets "snack time" before lunch and she's not a huge fan of breakfast, so I make sure has something healthy to eat during that time to make sure she has the energy she needs for the rest of the day. Then, I give her  a treat to eat with her lunch like a granola bar, homemade muffins,  fruit snacks or those 100 calorie pack snacks.  

What is YOUR favorite food to pack for lunch? 
Please comment below so that we get some more great ideas!