Friday, December 21, 2012

Shortbread Cookie Men

Boxed cookie mixes sure have come a longgggggg way!  There's one particular brand that never lets me down.  It's Krusteaz.  It can be found in the baking section at your local market.  I love the Bakery Style Shortbread cookie mix.  It tastes exactly like homemade and all you do is add 1 1/2 sticks of butter!  My only problem is that every time I accidentally break of these guy, I feel I need to eat it to get rid of the evidence.  Sometimes I wonder if I might be breaking their little arms off on purpose??? My mom said not to worry... broken cookies, uneven brownies , misshaped cakes and extra frosting have to be taken care of, you have to get rid of the evidence.  I always listen to my mom, she knows best!

Oh well.... that's half the fun I guess!


  • 1 box (14 Oz. Size) Krusteaz Bakery Style Shortbread Cookie Mix
  • 1-½ stick Butter, Room Temperature
  • 1 bag (12 Oz. Size) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 whole (1.4 Oz. Size) Heath Bars, Crushed

Preparation Instructions

For the cookies (recipe is on the side of the box):
Preheat oven to 350F. Place cookie mix and butter in a medium bowl, stir until dough forms (sometimes I use my hands for this). 

Place dough on lightly floured surface; roll to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Pierce dough with a fork. 

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Makes 24 cookies, more or less.
Cool on cookie rack and prepare chocolate glaze. 

For the chocolate glaze:
Fill a double boiler with water but don’t allow the water in the bottom pan to touch the bottom of the top pan. Place the chocolate chips and oil into the top pan on the double boiler and heat over low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and place in a shallow bowl. 

To decorate the cookies:
After the cookies have cooled, dip the legs (or any other part) into the warm chocolate glaze. Quickly sprinkle the crushed Health bars while chocolate is still warm. Place them on a cookie sheet and let air dry for a couple of hours.
Store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Healthy Oat Bran Muffins

These muffins are great for breakfast, lunch or as a snack with a big glass of milk.  They are loaded with nutrition so I never feel guilty chomping down one or two or three.... After I bake a dozen, I always eat at least one, warm from the oven and the rest get thrown in a zip lock bag and into the freezer.  Pop one in the microwave for 35 seconds and you're good to go. 


Prep Time:  10 Minutes
Cook Time:  18-20  Minutes


3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 Cup Oat Bran Cereal ( Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Medium Ripe Banana Mashed
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Large Whole Egg
2 Tbsp. Cooking Oil
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Carrots, Shredded
1/2 Cup Walnuts Chopped
1/2 Cup Blueberries


Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the liquid ingredients.  Combine the two bowls and stir until moist.  Fold in carrots, walnuts and blueberries.  Grease a 12 cup muffins tin.  Fill each cup 2/3 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. 

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This recipe is a slight variation of the recipe on the bag of Bob's Red Mill Hot Oat Bran Cereal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

 10 55 65



Prep time:  10 minutes, Bake for 55 minutes
Yield:  12 Servings


For Cake:


1 package chocolate cake mix 18.25 Ounce Size
1 package Instant Pudding Mix ( 3.8 Ounce Size)
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Warm Strong Coffee
4 Whole Eggs ( beaten)
1 Cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, coffee and eggs.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Beat on medium speed for 2  minutes.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch ( 3 quart) bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Remove from pan, cool on wire rack. Drizzle with chocolate glaze, allowing glaze to drip down sides.  Immediately sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.

For Glaze:

1/2 cup butter
5 TBS unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 TBS Milk

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the cocoa, and vanilla.
Heat to a boil stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar.  Mixture will be thick.  Slowly add the milk 1 TBS at a time until it has a spreadable consistency.

Drizzle over bundt cake .

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stuffed Peppers with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

My Aunt Dolly makes the best stuffed peppers in the world!  She's one of those amazing Italian cooks that makes everything from scratch, never seems to have any written recipes and uses what ever she has available in the kitchen that day.  It's always " a little bit of this, a little bit of that.... throw some sauce over there, top it with some cheese"........  The outcome is always amazing.

 She cuts her peppers in half, stuffs them with raw meat and raw rice and simmers them in a skillet covered in sauce.  I love her method but because everything starts out raw, it takes a bit longer to cook. My method is a little bit quicker but I do always add her two surprise ingredients because I believe it's what makes her peppers unique and extra special.  Here is my version of Auntie Dolly's peppers.

Yield: 4 Large
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour ten minutes


4 Whole Peppers ( Largest you can find)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
1 Pound Ground Beef or (Ground Chicken, Turkey or Pork)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
4 Cups Prepared Tomato Sauce .. recipe below
1 1/2 Cups Cooked White or Brown Rice
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 Cup Golden Raisins
1/3 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts (or un-Toasted)
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese


For the Sauce:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic Chopped
1 32 ounce Can Ground Peeled Tomatoes (I use Pastene)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
6 Basil Leaves, Chopped or Cut into Slivers

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive and garlic. Saute for one minute watching carefully not to burn.  Add the ground peeled tomatoes, salt, sugar and basil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5- 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the tops off the peppers and remove seeds and ribs.  Save the tops.  In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped onion.  Saute until soft, about five minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add in the ground meat and cook until no longer pink, ( about 10 minutes). Drain fat and place cooked meat in a large mixing bowl.    Season with salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice, 3/4 cups tomato sauce, 1/2 cup or Parmesan cheese, golden raisins and pine nuts.  Mix thoroughly.  Divide the mixture evenly between each pepper.  Place the four peppers in a 8 inch square pan standing up. Pour remaining sauce over and around the peppers. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly on top of the  peppers. Place the tops back on the peppers.    Cook for 20 minutes uncovered, then cover with tin foil and cook an additional 30 minutes. 

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another fun and easy idea I saw posted on the Cottage House site.  All you need is a hot glue gun, red candle, red ribbon and candy canes! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vintage Ice Skate Door Decoration

  I  saw this idea posted on a web site called The Cottage House so I decided to give it a try. My dog Sophie and I took a trip into the woods to gather the greens and berries.  While in the woods, we came across three beautiful deer so I let Sophie chase after them for a bit until I realized..... this might not be such a good idea..... hunters!  Anyhow, down to the basement to find my old skates, a red bow and there you have it!  Check out that site, they have some clever decorating ideas using things you most likely have around the house.

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Pan Only... Lemon Orzo Chicken

   I absolutely love any recipe that requires only one pot,pan or skillet.  Who doesn't??   This recipe is quick, easy, delicious, and you guessed it....  only requires one pot. If you don't own a dutch oven you're really missing out.  I use mine for so many things. They're great for slow cooking sauces, stews, soups and just about anything else.  It goes from stove top to oven, has a super tight lid and because it's made of cast iron it holds the heat longer. If you do get one, make sure that its coated in enamel, it will never rust and you won't ever have to season it. They make them in almost every color and if you purchase one at Marshall's or T.J Maxx's you'll save a bundle. 
 Now, about that the Lemon Orzo Chicken......
This dish is loaded with lemon flavor, tender orzo and the chicken falls right off the bone, but the best part.... just one pot to clean!



  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs , Drum Sticks or a Combination of both
  • 1 1/2 Cups Orzo
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil or enough to coat bottom of skillet/dutch oven
  • 1 Whole Lemon Sliced
  • 1 Clove Garlic Chopped
  • 3 TBS Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, Diced
  • 1/2  tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp salt


1.  Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously salt and pepper all sides of chicken.

2.  In a oven proof skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat.  Brown all sides of chicken , about five minutes per side.  Once browned, remove chicken from and set aside.

3.  To the dutch oven, add the orzo and garlic, saute for 2 minutes scraping the bits from bottom of the pan.  Turn off heat and add the chicken broth,  lemon slices, lemon juice, diced olives,  dried oregano and tsp of salt. Stir well.  Add the chicken back to the pan.  Cover the pan and place in your pre- heated oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.

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Brown chicken on all sides.

Once browned, remove chicken and set aside.

To the same pan, add the garlic and orzo.  Saute for 2 minutes scraping bits from bottom of pan.

Turn off heat, add the lemon juice, sliced lemons, chopped olives, oregano, chicken and salt.

Cover pot and place in the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sausage, Ricotta Cavatelle and Broccoli Rabe Soup

You could have never gotten me to eat something like Broccoli Rabe (also known as Rapini) when I was a kid.  I wouldn't have even considered it; come to think of it... my mother wouldn't have even considered trying to make me eat it.  I sure do love it now though.  It starts out somewhat bitter, but after it cooks down it gives off a nice nutty flavor, plus is super healthy -packed with vitamins A, C, K, Potassium, Calcium and Iron. With winter heading our way, we can all use a good dose of that!



  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or enough to coat bottom of pan
  • 1 pound pre-cooked chicken sausage sliced-  I used Alfresco
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta cavatelle frozen
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground pepper ( couple of grinds)
  • 4-5 cups chopped broccoli rabe and greens
  • 2 quarts chicken stock ( 8 cups)  I used Trader Joe's which is amazing.
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano for garnish
  • Directions:

    • In your dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil, sausage, onion and garlic until soft,about 5 minutes. 
    • Add the chopped broccoli rabe and greens. 
    •  Cook until they begin to wilt. 
    • Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
    • Add the frozen ricotta cavatelle, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
    • Continue to boil for 6 minutes.  Turn off heat and serve with Cheese.

    Chop Broccoli Rabe, onion, garlic and slice sausage.
    Saute for about 5 minutes.

    Add chopped Broccoli Rabe

    Cook until wilted

    Add chicken stock, bring to a boil.
    Add two cups of Ricotta Cavatell and boil for 6 minutes.




    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Mini Pineapple Coconut Angel Food Cakes

    I Came across this Mini Angel Food pan in a thrift shop the other day and had to have it!
    This pan is made of a heavy cast aluminum and is perfect for individual size angel food cakes, sponge cakes, muffins and desserts.  
    Angel Food cake is a light, low calorie, low fat cake that can be frosted and decorated in so many different ways.
    Today I'm making a simple recipe that I got from my mother in law.  You won't believe how easy it is.  All you need is a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapples and a box of  Angel Food Cake mix.

    For the Cake...
    1 box ( 16 Oz. Size) Angel Food Cake Mix
    1 can ( 20 Oz. size) Crushed Pineapples, Undrained
    1 Cup Shredded Coconut
    For the Glaze.....
    2 Cups Powdered Sugar
    4 Tablespoons Pineapple Juice


    Preparation Instructions

    For the cake:
    In a large mixing bowl, add the cake mix and can of pineapple. Beat on medium speed until the cake mix is completely moistened, about 1 minute. Do not grease or flour the pan.
    Pour batter into a mini angel food pan, filling about 2/3 full.

    Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run knife around edges to release.

    For the glaze:
    In a large mixing bowl, add powdered sugar and pineapple juice. Stir until smooth.
    To assemble the cake:
    Top each cake with approximately 2 tablespoons of glaze. Let it run down the edges of the cake. Sprinkle a handful of coconut on top.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Caramel Apple Dipping Party 2012

    Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The cool crisp change in the air, crunchy leaves on the ground and the anticipation of the holidays.  This year I hosted a fall apple dipping extravaganza party.  Each guest got to create their own scrumptious apple at the apple dipping station. Everyone had their own technique,  some not as good as others,  but each apple brought on laughter and smiles by all!

     You'll need:
    Apples, craft sticks, 1 lb blocks of caramel or 14 ounce bags of unwrapped caramels and lots of fun toppings!!
    Toppings that we used:
    Coconut, walnuts, chopped peanut butter cups, jimmies, chopped toffee bars and tiny nonpareils.

    1.  Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler halfway with water.  Sit the top pan over water. Make sure it's not touching the water.
    2.  Heat water over medium-high heat.  When water starts to boil, lower heat and simmer.  Add caramels and two tablespoons of water to pan.  
    3.  Stir the caramels as they begin to melt, stirring until smooth.
    4.  Transfer melted caramel into a deep bowl for dipping and let the fun begin!
    5.  Cover each apple completely in caramel, letting the extra caramel drip back into bowl.
    6.  Roll in your toppings.
    7.  Set on parchment paper until dry.