Sunday, December 28, 2008

our new carpet + living room!

For Christmas this year...Chad and I got new carpet for the living area & a new coffee table + furniture for the TV. Originally we were going to get a wall mount flat screen or one that is small & sits on the TV hutch. Well after spending all that money we decided to keep our old TV (the one in the pic), and wait to get a new tv until after the superbowl is over. This one will be going in the basement, once we can get new carpet down there after the new year! We purchased the new furniture at the Pottery Barn outlet at Birch that store!!

Our red & green stockings!
Another view of the new tv hutch & the carpet! Awww our little xmas tree, which is mine from when I lived in Little is probably time to purchase a bigger tree ;) Above the tv now hangs a huge Big Ben clock!

Our new mirror & wall decor ;) Chad and I picked this out at Graden Ridge...I just love all their wall decor, you have to really search tho, because a lot of that stuff is one of's!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

marinara garlic cheese dip

This appetizer is a hit! It was passed down from my good friend can't get any easier than this recipe for something quick & yummy for a party ;)

~1 loaf of fresh french bread (cut into 1" slices)
~1 box Boursin garlic & herb cheese
~1 jar of your fav spagetti sauce or marinara (I use Classico Cabernet Marinara)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Place unwrapped cheese on center of glass baking dish, and pour marinara sauce over cheese (you may only need 3/4 of the jar of sauce).
Place dish in center of oven and bake until bubbly (approx 15-20 minutes).
Serve sauce on platter with french bread slices.
Enjoy ;)

cheese + parsley phyllo triangles

Another appetizer I made for my holiday party on Hostess with the Mostess! I had never worked with phyllo dough before; so this was a challenge at first...but soon became easier once I understood the directions; I will simplify it better in my directions for you ;)

~12 sheets of frozen phyllo dough, thawed
~1 1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled
~1 c. fontina cheese, shredded
~3/4 c. monterey jack cheese, shredded
~1/2 c. chopped fresh italian parsley
~2 large eggs, beaten to blend
~1 tbsp. minced shallot (if desired)
~1/2 c. (1 stick) unslated butter (I used about 1/2 stick melted)
Allow the box of phyllo dough to stand at room temp for approx. 30 minutes. Mix the cheeses in a med bowl to blend. Stir in the parsley, beaten eggs, and shallot (if desired). Set the filling aside.
pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll the phyllo sheetson a dry flat surface. Carefully remove 1 sheet of phyllo dough (be careful it is very thin, & rips easily), lay it on your working surface. Keep the remaing phyllo dough covered with a damp kitchen towel until being used. Brush the phyllo sheet on your working surface with melted butter. Top with a second phyllo sheet and brush with melted butter. Cut the 2 layered sheets in 3-inch length-wise sections with a sharp knife. Place 1 generous tbsp of filling on bottom of right hand corner of each strip of layered phyllo. Working with one layered phyllo strip at a time, fold one corner phyllo over the filling, forming a small triangle - repeat folding the phyllo triangle up and over onto itself as you would fold a flag, brushing the edge of the last fold with melted butter to seal. Continue this method, until you have used all the filling. Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, seam side down and brush with more butter.
Makes approx 24 triangles (mine made approx 12 triangles total).

stuffed garlic spinach bread

I made these for my holiday party last sunday, and they were a hit!! It's actually a really easy recipe to make for an appetizer! I found the recipe on my new favorite website, Hostess with the Mostess!
The picture above was after I took it out of the oven.

~2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~1 large onion finely chopped
~3 cloves of garlic, minced
~1 can (14.5 oz) no salt added chopped spinach, drained & squeezed dry
~1/2 c. diced, canned red bell peppers (i used jar kind)
~12 large black olives, chopped (optional & omitted)
~pinch crushed red pepper
~1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, divided
~kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
~1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat 1 tbsp. of evoo in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion & saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat & stir in spinach, peppers & olives (if desired), crushed red pepper, 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste.

Roll out pizza dough into 12-inch round using enough flour on the work surface & dough to keep it from sticking. Transfer dough to baking sheet. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on center & mound the spinach mixture on one side of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border of exposed dough at the edge. Brush the exposed 1/2 inch of dough with water, and fold over the other side of the dough over top of spinach mixture (stretching it so it completely encases the the filling). Firmly pinch the edges together sealing the filling inside. Cut 4 slits at the top and brush over slits & top with remaining evoo.

Bake until crisp & brown, about 20 minutes; cool 10 minutes before serving.
Cut into 6 wedges.

crockpot tuxedo chicken

I dont have a picture of this recipe, because we forgot our camera at my parents house on christmas! This was really good, and super easy (obviously) ;) I got the recipe from my new "busy woman's" slow cooker recipe book!

~1.5 lbs. boneless chicken breasts (i used frozen)
~1 (15 ounce) can artichoke hearts, chopped ( i used the jar kind w/ italian seasonings)
~3/4 c. roasted red peppers, chopped (i used the jar kind)
~1 8oz. pkg. shredded american cheese (i used 2% mexican, & only added about 1/2)
~1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
~1 10oz. can cream of chicken soup (i used healthy request low sodium)
~1 8oz. pkg. shredded cheddar cheese (i used 2% sharp sheddar, & only used about 1/2)
~4 c. hot cooked bow-tie pasta (i used Barilla Plus penne)

in slow cooker, coat bottom & sides with cooking spray. place chicken on bottom of cooker. combine the artichokes, roasted peppers, american cheese, worcestershire sauce, & soup; mix well & pour over chicken. cover & cook for 6-8 hours on low setting. about 20 minutes before serving, fold in cheddar cheese, hot pasta & salt & pepper if desired (i used black pepper & frankenmuth chicken seasoning to taste!) yummmm!

serves 4, with leftovers ;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

chicken + pepper stir fry

this is a great recipe...similar to my pepper steak recipe, but this uses chicken! it tastes great with the rice too! i wanted to have something for leftover's for tomorrow's lunch - before we head to my parents house for christmas eve dinner!

~1/4 c. of low sodium soy sauce
~3/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
~2 garlic cloves, minced
~2 tbsp. cornstarch
~3/4 tsp. ginger
~1/4 tsp. cayenne (I substituted with chili powder)
~1/4 c. water
~1 med size green, red or yellow pepper
~1 c. uncooked white or basmati rice

combine all ingredients in small bowl from soy to cayenne. add chicken & toss to coat. heat 1 tbsp. of evoo in frying pan - add chicken mixture to pan over med heat. cook for approx. 7 minutes. add peppers & water, and cover for 5-8 minutes or until peppers are tender.
serve over hot rice, yummmm;)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

magnolia cupcakes = love

OMG -- the best cupcakes EVER!! I might get sued for posting this recipe...just kidding, I got the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery cook book!! If you haven't had a Magnolia cupcake, I feel sorry for you ;) It is from the famous Magnolia bakery in NYC, the bakery is on Bleecker & 11th street (right next to Marc Jacobs!!). You can wait up to an hour in line for these little guys....but it is SOOOO worth the while!! They have 3 different kind of cupcakes to choose from (Vanilla with Chocolate frosting, Chocolate with White frosting, and Vanilla on Vanilla - my FAVORITE!!) So without further adieu, lol! I made these tonight to have for my party tommorow....sooooo good, and so worth trying to make them yourself. If you handed me one blind folded, I would totally know they were Magnolia's!! Next time you are in NYC check them out...also they have a new store front on 39th & 6th avenue, so it is easier to get to if you are staying uptown. Enjoy!
Watch the you tube skit on how to frost them with link above...I didnt find this until after I made them (as you can tell) :(

~1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
~1 1/4 c. app-purpose flour
~1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
~2 c. sugar
~4 large eggs, at room temp
~1 c. milk (I used non-fat, but whole would be better)
~1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, combine the flours - set aside.
In a large bowl, on the med speed pf your electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually & beat until fluffy, about 3 mins. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat! Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl & make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully! spoon the batter into the liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way full. (The batter is dense, & hard to get into the cups. I used a med size laddle filled with batter & used the spatula to place into the liners. The batter makes exactly 24 cupcakes).
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. (mine were done after 20 minutes)

Vanilla Buttercream frosting:
~1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
~6-8 c. confectioners' sugar (you will need 8 for best result)
~1/2 c. milk
~2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar & then the milk & vanilla. On the med speed of your electric mixer, beat until smooth & creamy, about 3-5 mins. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 mins), until the icing is thick enough to be of goodspreading consitency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring & mix throughly (I added green ;). (Use and store the icing at room temp because icing will set if chilled) It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I made the icing while the cupcakes cooled. I also added sprinkles to the tops of the frosting ;)

Friday, December 19, 2008


My fav holiday cookie by far is this peanut butter kiss!! Since I was little, going to the cookie walks with my mom & aunts...I always filled my box up with these! This year my mom & aunts and I got together to bake Cristmas cookies. We all got together and made something different so we all had 5 dozen assorted cookies!! Yummm!
~1 3/4 c. flour
~1/2 c. sugar
~1/2 c. brown sugar
~1 tsp. baking soda
~1/2 tsp. salt
~1/2 c. butter
~1/2 c. peanut butter
~1 egg
~2 tbsp. milk
~1 tsp. vanilla
~1 pkg. Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped (any kind)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine ingredients. Roll into 1" balls, roll balls in sugar. Bake on cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes. Top with chocolate Kiss immediately upon removal from oven.
Enjoy ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I'm having a party! Yes, I am so excited that this year I get to host a holiday get together with my girlfriends at our house! Many of you know that Chad and I got married this past May, and I had just moved into the house (fully) after our wedding. So this Christmas I volunteered to have everyone over for a gift exchange...I am going to be posting my ideas for food & drinks I know you wont mind ;) I really LOVE Real Simple & Hostess with the Mostess for holiday party & drink ideas!! I think I am going to do a few festive cocktails like the ones below...

The house is decorated in mostly silver, winter white, and red, so I would like to do a white & silver decor theme for the party with red accents. I will take some pics & post them after the party Sunday. You will also get to see our new living room decor...I took a trip to the Pottery Barn Outlet at Birchrun & got some great deals!! (thanks to whoever posted the 50% PSA)!!

Peppermint Martini

~5 ounces of Chopin vodka

~2 ounces of white Creme de Menthe

~1/2 ounce of Peppermint Schnapps

~Mini candy canes

Pour all of your liquid ingredients into a shaker 1/2 full of cracked ice. Give a good 20 vigorous shakes and let the shaker rest for half a minute. Strain your lucious peppermint martini into 2 freezing martini glasses. Add a candy cane in each glass for garnish.

Makes 1 drink

Simpleton Cocktail

~1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) vodka, chilled

~2 cups (16 ounces) cranberry juice cocktail, chilled

~2 cups (16 ounces) pomegranate juice, chilled

~3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a large punch bowl or pitcher, combine all the ingredients. (You can cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.) Add ice and ladle into martini glasses or plastic party cups.

To Make a Virgin Version: Substitute 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) chilled lemon-lime soda for the vodka.

Makes 10 cocktails

Sparkling White Sangria

~1 bottle sparkling wine (such as Champagne or Prosecco)

~1 1/2 cups apricot nectar

~1 1/2 ounces triple sec

In a pitcher, mix together the wine, apricot nectar, and triple sec. Serve in wineglasses. Upgrade: Add 1 bunch frozen grapes to the pitcher before serving. I think I will add cranberries as below, for a dash of red!

Makes 6 servings

Add Cranberries to Holiday Cocktails
Freshen up your holiday bar with a tart twist

Use: Tarting up a holiday cocktail. Place three on a toothpick and serve in a Simpleton or a shot of OJ for a fruity infusion.

Reward: A swizzle stick that adds sass to your sauce.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I am at home today because I have Friday's off (I work 4 - 10 hour days Mon-Thursday. Today we are getting new carpet in our living area, so I am confined to the computer room! I got to sneak in a batch of these muffins before our carpet guy arrived this morning, so I finally got to take a picture of my food with natural light! Woo hoo! I might even let Jody the carpet man eat one after he his!

OMG These muffins were AMAZING!!! I usually make them without the choco chips...but I decided to add the peanut butter & chocolate swirl chips at the last minute since I had some leftover from the blondies ;)

~1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
~1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
~2 tsp. baking soda
~2 tsp. baking powder
~2 tsp. ground cinnamon or pumkin pie spice (I use 1 tsp. of each!)
~1/2 tsp. salt
~4 large eggs (I use Eggland's Best)
~2 cups granulated sugar (I have used Splenda)
~1 can (15 oz.) of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
~1 cup Vegetable oil
~2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips (I used 1 cup of the Toll House Peanut butter & Choco chip swirls)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 muffins cups or use paper baking cups.

Combine all the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & pumkin spice in medium bowl. Combine the eggs and sugar in large bowl first, then add the pumpkin & oil; mix well. Stir in the flour mixture slowly until moistened. Stir in morsels if you are using them. Spoon batter with laddle & fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from pans

Makes approx 24 muffins ;)

Monday, December 8, 2008


I am always in the mood for chicken noodle soup ;) I got this recipe from one of my co-workers & knottie friends, Amanda! This is great because you can just leave it simmering all day while at work! Thanks Amanda! Yummmm this was SOOOO good!!

~4-6 chicken breasts, or a small whole chicken (I used frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts)
~4-6 cups water
~2- 12oz chicken broth cans
~1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used my Frankenmuth chicken seasoning)
~1 teaspoon salt (I used chicken bouillon granules)
~1/4 teaspoon pepper
~1 small onion chopped
~1 carrot, chopped
~2 stalks celery chopped (I omitted because we dont like)
~1/4 cup parsley, chopped (I used less dried)
~1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
~1 bay leaf
~6 ounces noodles (I used 1 bag of Farmer's homemade egg noodles)

Place all ingredients except noodles in crock-pot. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Remove chicken and bay leaf from pot. Take meat from bones, leaving in big chunks (don't want to shred it too much). Return to broth.
Add noodles before serving! (I also like parmesan cheese on mine!)


On my quest to find a healthy addition to my morning breakfast...I came upon this idea to incorporate a healthy smoothie to my usual fiber one bar & hot tea or coffee. This is truly the best smoothie I have ever had, and uses the simplest ingredients!! I probably will add some non-fat yogurt or protein powder to this in the future, enjoy ;)

Serves 1


~1 cup apple juice
~1 cup frozen strawberries
~1 cup frozen mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries & raspberries)

Blend all ingredients in mixer & pour into drinking glass.
*by using frozen fruit you can eliminate ice, which tastes a lot better in my opinion! You might have to add a few more drops of juice while blending*

Friday, December 5, 2008


So excited to make this recipe tonight from Loves to Nom, Shelly! (adapted from Rachel Ray) This was soooo good, and Chad approved! We will be making this again & again ;) The red pepper flakes + the chili powder gave it a nice kick...yum yum!

~Appx 4 cups pasta(we used Barilla Plus elbows)
~1 lb ground beef (we used ground turkey)
~4 tbsp grated onion (we used onion flakes)
~4 tsp worcesteshire sauce (we used a little more, I love it!)
~4 tbsp butter (we used light)
~3 tbsp flour (we used wheat flour)
~1 cup chicken stock
~2 cups half and half (we used fat free)
~1 tbsp dijon mustard
~2 1/2 cups shredded colby jack cheese (we used the Kraft 2% colby monterrey blend & only used 2 cups = 1 pkg.)
~salt & pepper to taste
~1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
~4 dashes of chili powder
~Garnish: chopped dill pickles, diced tomatoes, or salsa (we omitted)

Boil a pot of water and add the pasta, cook per the box. Don't drain until the rest is ready.
In a large skillet brown the meat. Add the onion and worcestershire then some salt and pepper. When fully cooked, remove to a paper plate and get rid of the grease.
In the same skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in the half and half and the chicken stock. Bring to a bubble and cook for a few minutes until it thickens up. Stir in the dijon. Add the cheese and keep stirring until all melted into gooey goodness. Add more salt and pepper + the red pepper flakes & chili powder if desired.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce skillet along with the meat. Serve with the dill pickles and tomatoes/salsa if you wish.

According to Shelly's hubby, one should also add the special ingredient: Little Caesar's spice pack! We used 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes + a few dashes of chili powder!

Makes enough for leftovers...cant wait to eat this tomorrow for lunch too!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I know I dont have to say it twice...but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pasta!! I am obsessed with the restaurant Brio's, Pasta Fra I wanted to make a similar dish. This turned out very tasty, but it is not as creamy as Brio's. Maybe next time I will incorporate some heavy cream & mix in. This is from a weight watchers recipe so it is low in fat too!

~2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
~1 onion, chopped
~3 garlic cloves, minced (I used more)
~1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
~3 tbsp tomato paste (I also used an additional tbsp. of sundried tomato pesto)
~2 tbsp dry red wine
~1/2 tsp sugar
~1/4 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
~1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (start w/ 1/4 tsp then add more to taste)
~1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used less dried)
~1/2 lb penne (I used Barilla Plus Penne)

In saucepan, heat evoo. Add garlic and onion and cook until golden, approx 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, paste, wine, sugar, salt and red pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until flavors blend and sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley. Meanwhile cook chicken in evoo over med heat until cooked thru; add chicken to sauce.
Meanwhile, cook penne according to directions; add penne to sauce & mix well; serve hot.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I got this recipe off of love deliciousness blog (Thanks Linds!!) These are soooo good...Chad and I LOVE peanut butter!!

~4-5 tbsp. butter
~1/2 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
~1 cup brown sugar (I used organic)
~1 egg
~1 tsp. vanilla extract
~1/4 tsp. salt
~1 cup flour (I used wheat flour)
~1/2 tsp. baking powder
~1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Nestle's combination bag of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8×8 pan with foil (I didnt do this step) & lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter for 20-30 seconds until almost/all melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Stir the peanut butter into the butter until creamy and smooth.
Add the brown sugar to the butter/peanut butter and stir until smooth.
Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the peanut butter mixture and stir just to combine.
Gently fold in chocolate chips and any other additions (chopped nuts, chopped Reese’s cups, Reese’s pieces, etc).
Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.


Serves 2 (with leftovers for hubby:)

~3 med chicken breasts, pounded thin
~spinach, cooked in lemon and olive oil (enough for stuffing)
~feta cheese, crumbled (I used sun dried tomato basil feta)
~2 eggs, beaten
~seasoned italian bread crumbs
~2 c. sliced mushrooms (I used diced onion)
~1 tbsp. cornstarch
~1/2 c. dry white wine
~2 c. chicken broth
~lemon juice to taste
~2 garlic cloves; minced
~pepper to taste
~2 tbsp. olive oil
~1 cup of uncooked rice (I used chicken stock instead of water for more flavor)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut chicken in half 3/4 of the way thru, stuff chicken breast with spinach and Feta cheese. Season chicken with pepper. Dredge in eggs and seasoned bread crumbs. Brown in frying pan with evoo; place in greased glass dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Cook rice according to package.

Gravy: Saute 1 cup of mushrooms & garlic in 1 tbsp. butter. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (I would disolve in chicken stock first & mix well); pour into pan with mushrooms or onions. Cook and mix well. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine, 2 cups chicken broth, and lemon. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour over heated chicken & rice!