Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mrs. Tigani's Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies

It's just not Christmas in my house without a fresh batch of these wonderful Italian cookies.  They're so easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients in stock.  There's a secret ingredient which I thought was really strange the first time I made them. ( I almost left it out).   It's freshly ground black pepper. That's right... black pepper.   You can barely taste it in the cookies but they just wouldn't be the same without it so don't leave it out.    Merry Christmas to all and happy baking!!

Mrs. Tigani's Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies

Recipe from Ciao Italia 


Walnut-studded chocolate drop cookies are always found on a wedding cookie cake because they are firm and provide a good color contrast to the lighter cookies. This recipe has changed hands and ingredients many times in my family, but the one thing that remains constant is the black pepper in the dough. These freeze beautifully.


3 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 to 2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon rum extract
Colored sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Work in the shortening with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1/2 cup milk and the nuts and mix with your hands until well blended. If the mixture seems too dry and does not hold together, add just enough additional milk so the dough holds together.

Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm.

While the cookies bake, make the frosting. In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and the rum extract and beat until smooth. Add additional milk if necessary to make a thin frosting.

Let the cookies cool on racks only until warm. Dip the tops into the icing, place on the racks, and sprinkle with colored sprinkles. Let the frosting dry completely before layering the cookies between wax paper. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week or can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

" One Skillet" Spicy Sausage Pasta

Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb Pre Cooked Sausage Sliced ( Any of the Old Neighborhood Brand Sausage is Good.)

1 1/2 Cups Diced Onion
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 (10 oz) Can Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Green Chiles, Mild
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
8 oz Penne Pasta Salt and Pepper, Each
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded
1/3 Cup Thinly Sliced Scallions

1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper, stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe from " The Best Simple Recipes" 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roasted Pepper and Boursin Steak Quesadillas

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for a recipe that is not only fabulous and flavorful but can be put together and cooked in under 30 minutes.  I recently purchased America's Test Kitchen "THE BEST SIMPLE RECIPES".  It has more than 200 flavorful, foolproof recipes that cook in 30 minutes of less.  I gave this one a try last night and it was great.
   To make things a little bit healthier I used the Light Boursin cheese which has 50% less fat and 35% less calories than the regular Boursin cheese.  I also used a good cut of sandwich steak for the meat instead of the called for strip steaks.  Either one will do though.  

*Boursin is a soft, spreadable cheese that comes in several varieties that are available in every supermarket.  It is a versatile cheese that works well as a sandwich spread, a stuffing for chicken breasts, a spread for steaks, in mashed potatoes, on crackers, in dips or as part of a cheese plate. 

Roasted Pepper and Boursin Steak Quesadilla
Serves: 4

2 Strip Steaks ( 10-12 Ounces Each) About 1 Inch Thick
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 ( 5.2 Ounce) Package Boursin Cheese
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4(12-Inch) Flour Tortillas
1/2 Cup Jarred Roasted Red peppers, Drained and Sliced Thin
4 Scallions, Sliced Thin

1.  Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook steaks until well browned, 3-4 minutes per side.   Transfer to plate and let rest 5 minutes, then slice thin against grain.  Wipe out skillet. 

2,  While steaks rest, combine Boursin, cheddar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl.  Spread one-quarter of cheese mixture evenly over half of one tortilla, leaving 1/2 inch border around edge.  Top with peppers, scallions and sliced steak.  Fold tortilla over filling and press down firmly.  Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.

3.  Add 2 quesadillas to empty skillet and cook over medium high heat until golden and crisp, 1-2 minutes.  Flip quesadillas and cook until golden brown and cheese if melted.  1-2 minutes.  Transfer to cutting board and repeat with remaining quesadillas.  Cut into wedges and serve.  



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

 Is it bad that I'm having this for lunch today?  Zucchini and eggs are good for you, right??? I definitely feel less guilty eating zucchini bread then eating a piece of chocolate frosted cake for lunch and I've done that too!
  I wish you could smell this right now, or better yet... eat a slice with me.  I love zucchini bread but chocolate zucchini bread is over the top yummy, a guiltless pleasure (??)

  •  3 eggs
  •  1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3 cups grated zucchini ( I use 3)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips ( optional )

Preparation Instructions

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla until blended. 
In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking cocoa,cinnamon, baking powder,salt and baking soda.  Gradually beat this into the sugar mixture until well blended.  Stir in the zucchini, gently fold in the chocolate chips.    Pour the batter evenly into 2 well greased 9x5x3 inch pans. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Cool before serving.

Print Here
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

San Marzano Pizza

I picked some beautiful San Marzano tomatoes from my garden the other day and decided to roast them in the oven and throw together a quick little pizza. Just slice them in half, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and bake at  225 degrees for 2- 2 1/2 hours or until they are soft and caramelized. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt.  Set aside.  Spread out your favorite pizza dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle evenly with  mozzarella cheese, place your roasted tomatoes over the cheese, drizzle some more olive oil and  sprinkle with fresh basil. Bake your pizza until crispy on the bottom and cheese is melted.
That's all there is to it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

A few months ago my mother in law made this chicken dish for Sunday dinner.  When I saw what she was making I was pretty skeptical.  Mayonnaise on chicken?  It didn't sound or look so good to me, that is... until it came out of the oven.  Crispy golden brown on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.  Hard to believe but totally true!  My husband usually hates anything cooked with mayonnaise but he absolutely loves this recipe. 
Think of the mayo as a combo of eggs and oil ( which is exactly what it is) add to that the grated cheese and bread crumb topping.  You have to give this a try.  
It takes about 10 minutes or less to prepare and about 20 minutes to cook.  If you want to jazz it up a bit, just add the tomato on top with a drizzle of olive oil.  Top with fresh basil.  You won't be disappointed!

Pre Heat Oven to 425 degrees.
I cook these on a cookie sheet with a little drizzle of olive oil under each chicken breast.

1/2 Cup Hellmans Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
4 Boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
4 Teaspoons Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
4 Sliced Fresh Tomato for top ( optional)
4 Fresh Basil Leaves for top ( optional)


In a medium bowl mix mayonnaise and parmesan cheese.
Spread evenly atop each chicken breast.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon bread crumbs atop each breast.

* Variation:
Add tomato slice, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil before cooking
Add fresh basil leave when you remove from oven.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.


Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pecan Banana Bread

I had four bananas that needed to be used....stat!!  I started to search the web and came across this decadent Banana bread recipe that called for .... 4 bananas.. Perfect..
The Chocolate chips and chopped pecans make this bread more of a dessert than a bread, that's for sure... Kudos  and five stars to Prairie Palate for this recipe.   ( her link is at the bottom).  It's over the top moist, rich and delicious. 


1 Stick Butter, Softened to Room Temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Whole Eggs
4 Large Ripe Bananas
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Mini Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Pecans


Preheat oven to 325 Degrees and spray a 9x5x3 Loaf Pan with cooking spray.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.
In a separate medium size bowl, mash together the bananas, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.  In a third medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Pour the banana mixture into the creamed mixture and combine.  
Add the dry mixture and combine but do not over mix.  Stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. 

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  

Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for one hour, after one hour insert tooth pick in the middle of the loaf and check to see if it comes out clean.  If it doesn't, continue to cook and  re-check ever 5 minutes.  Once the toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven. 

Run a knife along the sides of the pan, invert and remove.  Cool on wire rack.

Print Here

Recipe slightly adapted from Prairie Palate

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


 It's a blueberry muffin kind of day.  Why's that you ask???  Because it's a heavy rain, flash flood , stuck in the house kind of day and I have a freezer full of blueberries just waiting to be eaten!

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries ( I used frozen)
  • Cooking spray for muffin tins
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 F. 
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Alternating 1/2 at a time, beat in the dry ingredients and yogurt until a smooth thick batter forms.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or coat lightly with butter.  Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among cups.
  Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from tin and serve warm. 

Print Here

The Only Muffin Recipe You Might Ever Need 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cookie Bar

Here are some photos of the cookie bar my daughter and I put together for my new daughter in law's Bridal Shower.  Everyone got to take home an assortment of cookies to share with their families!  
Here are some of the recipes we made,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oven Baked Buttermilk Bisquick Chicken Legs

This recipe is so easy and it always comes out great!  An old neighborhood friend of mine use to make it all the time for her family and she made it a couple times for me.  I've changed a few things over the years but it's basically the same recipe she made and the same recipe on the back of the Bisquick box.  Make sure to use chicken legs, not chicken breasts, chicken legs are super moist!!   This oven baked chicken is great to eat right out of the oven or cold at a picnic.  Enjoy..

Oven Baked Buttermilk Bisquick Chicken Legs

1 Cup Buttermilk (or more if needed)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2/3 Cup Original Bisquick
1 1/2 Teaspoons Paprika
1 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
4 Large Chicken Legs

Heat oven to 425 F. Melt butter and olive oil in rectangular 13x9x2 inches baking dish in oven. 

Stir together Bisquick, paprika, salt and pepper.  Dip both sides of chicken in buttermilk; coat both sides of chicken with Bisquick mixture ( rolling in mixture and pressing mixture on with hands).  Place skin sides down in baking dish (olive oil and butter should be hot). 

Bake 35 minutes; turn chicken. Bake about 15 minutes longer or until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Adapted from the Bisquick Box.
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I can't remember who gave me this recipe but I've had it in my collection for years and have never made it.  I haven't blogged since Valentines Day so I decided to give it a try.  It has an interesting combination of ingredients, especially the mango nectar, which by the way smells amazing while the bread is baking. This bread came out great,  super moist and flavorful.    Chunks of pear and the taste of mango nectar in every bite!  Thank you to who ever gave me this recipe.  It's a keeper.

1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Cup Mango Nectar
2 Large Eggs
2-1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar

16 Ounce Cans Pears, Drained and Chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, mango nectar and sugar.  Beat with an electric mixer until the sugar dissolves.  While beating, add the eggs one at a time.  Add the flour mixture and thoroughly blend with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the chopped pears.  Pour into a greased and floured loaf dish.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes One Loaf

Print Here 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentines Day

Don't Forget The Pups, We Love Them Too!

Nothing says " I Love You" more than a bag of  homemade goodies, made with love of course. Another snowy day in New England, perfect baking weather, not that I consider myself a baker.  I would much rather make a tray of lasagna than a batch of cookies.  I consider myself more of a cookie tester than a baker.  My mom, my two sister's and my daughter... now they're bakers. 
For the cookies I used Jam Fig and Peach Mango for fillings.

 I'm a huge Ina Garten fan, so I used her recipe for Shortbread recipe.  Her recipe is by far the best.
Ina Garten's Shortbread Recipe

I also used Ina's recipe for  the White Chocolate Bark which is basically melted white chocolate sprinkled with anything you want on it before it sets.
Ina Garten's White Chocolate Bark
I covered my bark with shelled pistachios and dried cranberries.
The leftover cookie cut outs were dipped in melted Ghiradelli Chocolate and sprinkled with toasted, chopped pecans.  I also stuffed some with melted chocolate.  

February 13th, 2014
 I should probably take down my Christmas lights, ya think???

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sister Carole's Fish Chowder


This is my sister Carole's delicious recipe for Fish Chowder.  It cooks up pretty quick and is loaded with chopped clams, diced potatoes and flaky haddock.   What a great meal for any night of the week.  Thanks Carole!  Remember to do as she says in the directions below:
"Pour yourself some white wine and sip throughout the cooking process."

1 small onion chopped
2 potatoes, diced
2 TBS of butter
Chicken Broth
1 can of good quality chopped clams in juice
1 lb of haddock...
Sour cream
1 1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of light cream

( I had left over bacon so I threw that in and some chopped celery.  Other than that, I followed it to a teeee).

Pour yourself some white wine and sip throughout the cooking process.
Brown the onion in butter.
Add enough chicken broth to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil.
Add the clams with the juice. Layer the haddock on top of the potatoes.
Simmer for about 10 min. until potatoes are tender and haddock flakes.
Add the milk. I put in some light cream for added richness.
Toss in a dollop of sour cream on top. Finish with some S&P to taste and a pinch of Thyme.
Serve with hot rolls and oyster crackers.

Print Here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

101 Household Tips For Every Room

My dad sent me this link today.  I've actually cut cherry tomatoes using the above method, it's a great time saver! Some of these ideas make me want to smack myself in the head and say " why didn't I think of that?"
 Click on the link below.  You won't believe how clever some people are!!

101 Household Tips For Every Room 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Turkey Bacon Avacado Swiss Panini with Chipotle Mayo

My husband is working late tonight and for me that means "Sandwich Night"!!!!!
I love my panini maker and I love sandwich night.  The variety and combination of panini's are endless and ohhhh so good.  If you start out with some great bread, you really can't go wrong. I usually buy an uncut loaf of Ciabatta bread at the bakery and cut it into thick slices. You can make the chipotle mayo as hot as you like.  Start out with one pepper, give it a taste.....add more if you dare!! 

Start out by cooking up some thick cut bacon.  I cook mine in the oven in a deep pizza pan at 400 degrees until crispy.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Now you need :
1. Thick sliced Ciabatta bread
2. Sliced fresh avocado, 
3. Sliced roasted deli turkey 
4. Thick sliced swiss cheese 
5. Chipotle mayonnaise.

For Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
2 Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon adobo sauce from can
Salt and Pepper

Directions for Mayonnaise:

Combine all above ingredients in food processor until smooth or place ingredients in a small bowl and blend with a fork smashing peppers as you blend.  If you blend with a fork you will be left with some chunky pieces of the peppers.  Yum.

For Sandwich:
Spread 1 Tablespoon of chipotle mayo on top and 1 Tablespoon of chipotle mayo on the bottom slices of bread.
Layer Avacado, Swiss Cheese,Turkey and Bacon.  Close top.  Spread about 1 Tablespoon of butter on top and 1 Tablesppon of butter on the bottom of breads.  Grille in  hot panini press or on stove top in a grill pan until golden brown and cheese has melted.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Banana Almond Crunch Muffins... The only muffin recipe you'll ever need

With the holidays behind us, I finally found some time to do some baking.  This recipe is adapted from the America's Test Kitchen.  It was developed by Pam Anderson who worked for Cooks Illustrated.   Here is a link to her article.
"The only muffin recipe you might ever need"
During her search for the perfect muffin she experimented by using low fat yogurt in the batter and the outcome was amazing.  I decided to use Low fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt and top my muffins with caramelized almonds.  They came out so yummy!  The texture is nothing like your every day muffin and totally different from banana bread.  This recipe produces 12 big muffins.

Print Here

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups caramelized almonds ( recipe below)
  • Cooking spray for muffin tins
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 F. 
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Alternating 1/2 at a time, beat in the dry ingredients and yogurt until a smooth thick batter forms.  Gently fold in the diced bananas. 

Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or coat lightly with butter.  Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among cups. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of caramelized almonds on top of each muffin, pressing in lightly.
  Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from tin and serve warm. 

 Caramelized Almonds:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, water, cinnamon and salt in a saute pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates and leaves a candy coating on the almonds.
  4. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread into a thin layer, separating the almonds with forks if necessary.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.