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Monday, December 31, 2018

Spiced Blueberry Compound Butter

Here we are, the final hours of 2018. I'm ending the year right by using up my last vacation day and spending the day playing with Lilly and prepping some snack items for tonight and brunch tomorrow.

No, we don't have any party plans for this evening. See, having a little one sure does change things. Last year, Lilly was just shy of 3 months old which meant she was still in the middle of those exhausting newborn phases of not sleeping through the night and being awake at all hours of the night. So we were well awake at midnight, hoping that she was close to being ready for sleep (by sleep I mean the normal stretch of 3 hours before she was awake again and ready to eat). This year, even though she's just shy of 15 months, she's sleeping through the night but mommy and daddy are still so damn exhausted. It makes me feel even more exhausted just thinking about staying up past midnight partying. And then, there's the thought of the potential hangover the next day. But ya know what? We're totally fine to stay in, eat and have a few drinks, play a game or two and probably fall asleep before the ball drops and rings in the new year. My younger self would have been appalled by these "plans". I'm sure in a few short years Lilly will feel the excitement of New Year's Eve and want to try and stay awake for a celebration. I'm actually looking forward to that. Little kids have a way of reigniting the excitement and fun of the simple things.

In my prep for our brunch tomorrow morning, I've had this idea to make a blueberry compound butter. Compound butters are really easy to make but add something really special to your meal. The only trick is rolling up the parchment paper  to make sure the butter is really snug and tight. It's ok it it isn't perfect, after all we're talking about butter that eventually get spread and melted and will lose a perfect shape anyway. I really love how this blueberry compound butter came out. I wanted to make it a bit on the savory side, instead of a cavity-zinging sweet butter. By all means, if you're looking for crazy sweet just up the sugar, but I think you'll like this. You get the taste of fresh blueberry, warm cinnamon and nutmeg, and a bit of sugar to sweeten. Spread onto warmed biscuits and enjoy at your next brunch!





-10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Place blueberries in a food processor and blend until smooth. It's ok to have small pieces of blueberries, it doesn't have to be completely smooth.

2. In a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, combine the blueberries and butter, whip until incorporated. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Unroll a large piece of parchment paper and fold in half. Spoon the blueberry butter onto the paper and form into a log shape about 1 inch in height. Fold the parchment paper around the butter and continue to roll, squeezing firmly to make sure the butter is condensed together. Twist the edges of the parchment paper. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then move to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Slice into discs and spread onto warm biscuits.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Mini Almond Sugar Squares

The winter cold has officially taken over our household. Last weekend we took Miss Lilly to an indoor play place that we'd been to several times, one of those giant rooms that's section off into different themed play areas. Two days later the poor thing got her very first cold. I do realize how incredibly lucky we are that she made it 14 months before getting sick. She was hit hard with the head cold and she and I spent two very rough nights on the couch. I guess it's no surprise that just as she's turned the corner and starting to get better, Daddy and Mommy are getting hit with the bug. It's an orchestra of sniffles, coughs, sneezes, nose blows, repeat. Hopefully we're all back to 100% before Christmas.

A little head cold can't keep me out of the kitchen though. But isn't that the life of a mom? I really wanted to whip up these cookies because they are so easy and make the perfect little treat. The only dangerous part is they are so small you wind up eating so many of them because they are so good! My mom used to make these when we were kids, and last year I finally asked her for the recipe. I love that you actually bake this as one large cookie, then with your pizza cutter you slice them into little squares. I like going pretty small with them, the size of about two bites. They are so adorable! These would make a great gift for a neighbor or something to bring into the office for your coworkers. Or, you can always make these for no reason at all other than to snack on them with a cup of coffee. Which I may or may not be doing right now.


Tip:
-This dough is wet and a little sticky, it's not your traditional drier dough.
-Use the smallest baking sheet you have, when you spread out the dough it's not going to spread all the way to the edges. Mine looks like this. I measured 9" tall by 10".



- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-5 tablespoons Crisco shortening
-3/4 cup white sugar
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-1 tablespoon milk
-2 teaspoons almond extract
-1 egg
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-sprinkles + 1 tablespoon sugar for decorating

1. Heat oven to 375. In a large bowl cream together the shortening and the 3/4 cup sugar. Add in the oil, egg, milk, and almond extra and beat until light and fluffy.

2. Gradually blend in the flour, baking powder, and salt at low speed. Spread onto an ungreased baking pan. Mixture will not cover the entire pan, spread until about 1/4" thick. Mine measured 9x10. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon sugar and sprinkles. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then slice with a pizza cutter to the desired cookie size.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Lime Sour Cream

Are you finished with your Holiday shopping? This is the first year that I completed all of my shopping without setting foot inside a single brick and mortar store. That's right. All shopping was done in the comfort of my pajamas sitting on my couch with a glass of wine in hand. Admittedly, sometimes that glass(es) of wine makes me awfully generous. But I feel quite accomplished, but also feeling quite old with how annoyed and frustrated I've become with the crowds that is holiday shopping. I remember in my high school days it was almost a yearly tradition for my brother and I to go Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. After dinner we'd hit the mall and divide and conquer. Looking back I can't believe my mom let us do that. People are crazy this time of year. They drive crazy. They act crazy around sales. They act crazy waiting in long lines. But, there was something fun about being in the mix of the hectic last minute shopping frenzy. I'm sure one day Lilly will want to go shopping with her friends and I'll have to put all of my fears aside and let her grow.

So this Lime Sour Cream is my new obsession. I swear I would put this on everything if I could. What makes this so great is that the lime juice cuts through the heavy tartness of the sour cream making this really light and refreshing, this won't make you feel weighed down. Put this on tacos, quesadillas, I've even used this as a dipping side to my sweet potato home fries. This is going to become your new go-to condiment.



-1/2 cup sour cream
-2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine the sour cream and lime juice, adding more or less juice depending on taste. I prefer a strong lime flavor so I'll use the 3 tablespoons. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mangu

I began this blog all the way back in 2011. I'll do the math for you...my first post was nearly 7 and 1/2 years ago. If you've never seen it, go take a look here and try not to laugh. Food styling was clearly not even on my radar.

It's been quite a journey...both personally and culinarily (ok that's that a word but go with it). I love how cooking and baking can evolve. Attempting more ambitious recipes, experimenting with my own creations, and trying new flavors and ingredients. When I met my now husband who is Dominican, I started cooking with so many new seasonings and was introduced to a new world of recipes. We still talk about one of the first nights I was cooking dinner for him. To his shock and horror, I was making boil in a bag rice. Try making a Dominican bag rice and let me know how that goes over.

One morning for breakfast my husband, well not my husband at the time, decided to 'wow' me with a traditional Dominican breakfast: mangu. Mangu is mashed plantains and is incredibly simple but extremely filling and typically topped with pickled red onions (get the recipe here) served with a side of fried salami, fried queso freir, and eggs. I promise you, you eat mangu for breakfast and you won't be hungry until dinner.

A few notes if you're new to making mangu.
1. You want to buy the green plantains, not the yellow.
2. Make sure you boil them long enough to make the mashing easier.
3. When you add the water to mash it's going to look like you've added too much, but plantains get hard and thicken as they cool. Trust me, this gets me every time still. I swear I've added too much water and ruined it, but as you mash and let it sit the mangu will thicken and finish at the right consistency. 




-4 green plantains
-4 tablespoons butter
-1 cup of reserved water from the pot

1. Peel the plantains and cut into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Boil for about 20 minutes, until a fork easily pierces the pieces.

2. As the plantains finish cooking, reserve 1 cup of the water from the pot, then drain the rest and pour the plantain pieces into a large bowl over the butter. Begin mashing, adding the 1 cup water. You can add it a little at a time, but remember mangu thickens as it sits so you should use the whole cup of water. Mash to the consistency you desire, some people hate any chunks while my husband and I like ours a bit lumpy. Let sit for a few minutes before serving to allow it to "set". Top with pickled red onions.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sweet Pickled Red Onions

So I've hit a milestone. Exactly one year ago my maternity leave ended. And let me tell you...maternity leave is no vacation. Oh no. No no no.

Admittedly I'm a pretty big skeptic. I remember other moms warning me that maternity leave isn't a vacation, that there's no relaxation happening and by the time the leave has ended you'll return to work in that most exhausted state of your life. "Psssh," I thought to myself. "They're exaggerating!". Oh how wrong I was. When Lilly was a new born I used to keep notes on my phone of her feeding schedule so I could track how often and how much she was eating. Just last night I stumbled onto one of these notes and had a good laugh at it. It read like this:

3:15am- 4oz
6am- nursed
8am- 5oz
11am- nursed

You get this picture. That girl was always eating. Maternity leave was a never ending cycle of putting her to sleep, giving her a formula bottle, pumping, and nursing her. Looking back on those days it's amazing we make it through that. Newborns are hard work. Newborns require every single ounce of your energy. Newborns make time move at warp speed. It was just a year ago, but looking at photos of her from a year ago it feels a totally different decade. But...we made it. My Lilly is a now almost 14 months old, running all over the place, saying "cat", and most importantly....sleeping through the night. She still doesn't sleep beyond 6:30am, but I'll take it. If this past year has taught me anything, it's that time moves way too fast when you have a child, so for right now I'm trying my hardest to live in these moments and when 6:30am rolls around be thankful that I have a sweet, happy, healthy toddler to wake me up.

This weekend for breakfast we made a typical Dominican breakfast dish called Mangu (post coming soon). Mangu is mashed plantains and this dish is topped with pickled red onions. These sweet pickled red onions are so addicting I got up several times during breakfast to reload my Mangu with red onions. These are so crisp and the tart bite of the vinegar is nicely balanced with the sugar making it the ideal savory sweet garnish. Add these to burgers, tacos, eggs, and of course..Mangu. Any dish you'd typically add fresh red onions just swap out for these sweet pickled red onions and I promise you you'll never go back.





-1 red onion
-1 cup warm water
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-1/2 cup white vinegar
-1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Slice the red onion thin. Some people prefer to keep them in rings, but I prefer mine to chop mine into slivers.

2. Mix together the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Place chopped red onions in a mason jar. If you don't have a mason jar a bowl or other container will work. Pour the vinegar mixture over top making sure to cover all of the onions. Let sit at least 1 hour before using. Then, store in the fridge for several weeks.

Source

Friday, November 23, 2018

Jingle Bubbles

How is everyone doing this day-after Thanksgiving? Are you still totally stuffed?

We had a lovely day filled with family, way too much food, games, and entertainment provided by our 13-month old little girl. It's funny how just watching her toddle around the room from toy to toy can keep us mesmerized and melting our hearts with the simplest little things. This wasn't her first Thanksgiving technically, but last year she was only a few weeks old so this was the first year she was able to partake in the day. I love knowing how we're shaping traditions for her that she'll look forward to every year. I wonder what dish will be her favorite that she'll ask me to make? I hope she'll be eager to be my little helper in the kitchen...checking the turkey with me, setting the table, making she my wine glass is full. Ok, maybe not that last one, I can handle that...but I can picture her in a little apron placing chef for the day.

I remember when I was younger I used to help my grandma cleanup after family dinner. Want to know what my favorite part was?

Washing the dishes. (I can hear my husband's shocked reaction.) Yes, for a very brief moment in time I enjoyed washing dishes in the sink. Looking back, I can see why my grandma was so willing to let me handle that job and I never had to fight back any of the adults to be dishwasher for the day.

Now that everyone is recuperating from the planning and cooking and dish washing of Thanksgiving dinner, it's time to gear up for Christmas and the Holiday Season! I love holiday parties that have cocktails that fit the season. There's something extra festive about it. This year I wanted to come up with something light and fresh and not overly sweet. This champagne cocktail is refreshing and easy to drink, not too strong, and just enough limeade to balance out the champagne and vodka. These would be great at a brunch gathering or evening cocktail party. Enjoy!




Ingredients
-Sweet Champagne or Prosecco
-Simply Limeade
-Vodka
-Limes for garnish

1. Fill a flute glass 3/4 full with champagne. Add 1/2 oz vodka (this is about half of a shot glass), top with limeade. Garnish with lime slice.

2. Drink responsibly.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Dip

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

No, I'm not talking about winter, or Christmas, or even Thanksgiving. I'm talking about football season! It turns Sundays into a day to knosh on snacks, drink beer, and stay in my comfy clothes on the couch. Now, the down side of football season is when your team is terrible. That's right...I'm a Giants fan and this season is downright painful. On the plus side, I'm actually not doing terrible with my Fantasy team this year! Admittedly, I've gotten some helpful tips from my brother as I learned to navigate through swapping out players on their Bye weeks, using the waivers, and structuring my team to get the maximum amount of points. It's turning out much better than my March Madness brackets usually do.

Buffalo Chicken Dip is probably one of the most crowd pleasing dips you can make. This recipe is so savory, so cheesy, and just enough heat. I swear every time I make these the bowl is practically licked clean. As you read the recipe, don't be turned off by the fact that it uses canned chicken. I typically never buy this stuff but it does give a particular flavor that you won't quite get from chicken breast. That isn't to say you can't cook up a chicken breast, shred it up and use that instead. You totally can, and I've done that before too. But when I compared the canned chicken to chicken breast recipes I felt that the latter was just missing "something". So whip up this super easy dip for football Sunday, go Giants!


-2 12.5oz cans chicken breast, drained
-8 oz softened cream cheese
-1/2 cup ranch dressing
-1/3 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
-1 8oz bag shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese 

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. 

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, canned chicken breast, ranch dressing, hot cause, mozzarella cheese, and garlic powder. Smooth into your baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. To finish it off I like to throw it under the broiler for about 5 minutes to make the top brown and bubbly.

3. To serve, garnish with the crumbled blue cheese.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Espresso Bread


This is my favorite time of year. These glorious few weeks when it's not too cold yet, you don't need the A/C or heat, and at night you there's the soothing scent of burning fireplaces. If I could pick the perfect climate to live in the rest of my life it would be exactly like these first weeks of Fall. During the day it gets just warm enough that you can feel comfortable wearing a long sleeve shirt, and at night a warm sweatshirt sitting around a fire pit. But of course, New Jersey is definitely not like this all year. Soon we'll enter the 7th circle of hell, or as some call it..."winter". I swear it lasts for half the year. We'll have snowstorm after snowstorm, mountains of plowed snow taking up the prime street-parking spots, and what was once pristine white powdered snow is dark, muddy, and slushy. So before that happens I'm going to enjoy this season and curl up with some pumpkin bread.

It does make me laugh a little that this type of food is referred to as "bread". Let's be honest with ourselves, this is basically cake without any frosting. But if we call it bread it makes it breakfast food, right? Right. I love this with my first cup of coffee in the morning after opening the window to let some fresh cool air circulate through the house. If you've never had the incredible combination of pumpkin and dark chocolate you need to put this on your "must make" list NOW. This bread tastes like a delicious bite of Fall with your favorite warm spices then the smooth and melty dark chocolate. This is also so fast and easy to whip up, minimal mess and in less than an hour you can be enjoying this spiced treat!



-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 tablespoon espresso powder (I used Cafe Bustelo)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 large eggs
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-1/2 vegetable oil
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup milk
-3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to  350 degrees and grease your baking pan. You can use a loaf pan or I used by 8x8 pan. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, espresso powder, and salt. Then mix in the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and sugars. Stir until smooth, then lastly stir in the chocolate chips.

2. Pour into your baking dish. If using a loaf pan bake for 50-60 minutes, if using an 8x8 bake for 35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.



Source: Closet Cooking

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sweet Potato Home Fries


So I recently pulled a big time goof. We were on our way to the mall over the weekend to buy Lilly her first real pair of sneakers. Since the little miss is now fully walking (apparently now I have a toddler and not a baby) she needs real shoes for our out of the house adventures. We're all seat-belted into the car but when I press the 'Push to Start' that whole thing where the car is supposed to start doesn't happen. "Odd," I think to myself and decide to give it another go maybe it was some kind of fluke.

Nope.

We realize the battery is dead. As I turn to look to the back seat I see... 'it'. By "it" I mean the overhead light still producing light from when I turned it on the night before in the parking garage. Gah! I never turn that light on. Never! So of course the one time I use it I forget I even turned it on and the car battery used every last ounce of power to keep that sucker beaming all damn night. After our emergency car starter couldn't get it going we skipped the mall trip and worry about it the next day. My little brother was able to come over in the morning and give us the jump we needed to get the power flowing again!

Now here we go to the recipe. In return for his car jump starting services I whipped up a hearty brunch with Sweet Potato Home Fries taking center stage. I've made regular home fries before but something about this cool Fall air had me wanting to make a sweet potato version. I love that these crisp up in the oven and not heavily pan fried like some other version. The peppers and onions give this an extra kick of flavor so this isn't heavy and you don't feel all carbed up on potato. Whip this up next weekend and I promise these will become your new brunch staple!



-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (try not to go too small or they will burn)
-3 tablespoons EVOO
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-sale and pepper to taste
-1/2 cup diced white onion
-1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1.Heat your oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl combine the diced sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, paprika, and salt & pepper. Spread into an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 28-30 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are baking, heat the final 1 tablespoon of the EVOO in a saute pan and add the onions and peppers. Saute on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes until they softened and get slightly browned.

3. When the potatoes are done, add them into the peppers & onions pan and toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!




Source: Martha Stewart

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'm obsessed with dips. I have this restaurant idea where it's tapas style except it's just dips. Spinach dip, buffalo chicken dip, queso, corn dip....I could be here all day. I think it could work.

A good, savory dip can easily take the place of dinner for me. Heck, in my living on my own days I was no stranger to snacking for dinner instead of sitting down to a bigger meal. It's also a must-have when it comes to entertaining. A get together of any size absolutely needs to have a dip in the spread. That's a non-negotiable. Dress it up but having an assortment of crackers and chips, and go a little more gourmet with the selections, I like Stacy's chips and pita chips.

For your next party or solo dinner you're going to want to try this cheesy roasted red pepper dip. This one has gone down as my go-to. It's melty and cheesy but the powerful flavor of roasted red peppers helps cut through the cheese to keep this from feeling overly heavy. One difference I made was instead of just chopping the peppers, I put them in my Nutribullet and pulsed them a bit to make more of a paste, still had some pepper pieces but it was a very smooth paste that would be mixed into the cheese. This helps the whole dip have that pepper flavor and gives it a beautiful rich color.


-1 7oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-4oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
-1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (you can use shredded or grated)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a blender or Nutribullet, pulse the roasted red peppers until smooth.

3. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Source: Closet Cooking

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dark Chocolate and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting Birthday Cake

If you're familiar with my blog, you might remember that I've had a long history with cakes. The cake bug bit me years ago when I discovered how to make my own fondant. Have you ever made fondant? Trust me, Cake Boss and any other cake shows on Food Network make fondant making and rolling look as easy as rolling out dough from a Pillsbury can.

Spoiler alert: It's not!

Making fondant involves a sticky mess of melted marshmallow, endless amounts of powdered sugar that poofs everywhere, and frantically kneading this super-glue like mixture until it eventually becomes a smooth ball of fondant. Next comes creating however many colors you need, which involves more kneading and your hands will have taken on every color of the rainbow by the time you're done. Now it's time to decorate the cake! The most stressful part of the whole process for me is "the transfer". This is when you have your main piece of fondant all nicely rolled out on your counter and you need to get that bad boy onto your cake without it ripping or splitting. If you've managed to make it past this part, the rest is more fun. Making the decorations and and the final touches creates your little work of art....that is ready to get torn up by serving knives and forks and devoured by hungry cake eaters. Take a look at some of my previous creations: South Park Cake , iPhone Cake (iPhone cerca 2011) Steak Cake, and Movie Cake.

But in more recent times, I've retired from the fondant business and instead focus my efforts on delicious frostings. The thing that bugged me about fondant cakes is that it's a lot of work and honestly, fondant doesn't taste good. Most people just peel it off and eat the cake underneath, and when you peel it off it usually takes with it the a good amount of the frosting. So here we are, this leads me to this post's recipe for Dark Chocolate Frosting and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting.



Dark Chocolate Frosting
-1 10z bag Nestle dark chocolate chips
-3 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark cocoa power
-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 sticks softened butter
-2 tablespoons milk

1. In a saucepan, combine the dark chocolate chips and milk. Over low heat, stir until melted, making sure never to burn the mixture.

2. In your stand mixer, combine the softened butter and chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat on low at first, then beat on high to make it light and fluffy. If mixture looks too stiff add a a tablespoon of milk to loosen up.

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 stick softened butter
-2 cups powdered sugar
-3 tablespoons milk

1. Combine all ingredients and beat on high until light and fluffy. Yes it's that easy!!

Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe Source: All Recipes







Monday, August 6, 2018

Braided Apple Danish

I'm going to take a minute and start this post out a little differently. This is for all the moms.

Lately I've been feeling a little bogged down by trying to be Super Mom. What I've found about Super Mom is that at the end of the day everyone has been cared for except for...you guessed it ...Super Mom.

Laundry: Done
Dinner cooked: Done
Dishes: Done
Groceries bought: Done
Meal planned: Done
I can't even list out the amount of baby care
Self Care: Uhhh...maybe tomorrow

How many of you reading this have constantly pushed any self care to the next day, and the next day, and the next day, only to realize it's been months since you've done anything just for you? I know you can't see right now but I'm raising my hand saying "Me!!!!".

Let's all agree to something right now. Make a plan to do something just for you within the next week. However big or small you want. Take a long walk in a park, get a spa treatment, go to a museum, go shopping, make a bubble bath. We need to make sure we get on that to-do list or we realize it's been years since we put ourselves first.

Now, I realize it's bit odd posting a Braided Apple Danish after I just went on a rant about Super Mom. I promise this is easy! And quick! If the braided dough isn't perfect, no big deal. If it comes out seriously screwed up, cut it into slices and no one knows the difference. See? Those are those little tricks of a Super Mom.


-1 sheet puff pastry (Pillsbury makes this, find in your freezer section)
-2 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples (4-5 apples about)
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1 1/2 tablespoons flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-Sugar for topping (recipe calls for cane sugar, I didn't have it so used regular white sugar)
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon water

1. Heat over to 400 degrees. Defrost the puff pastry on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Do not try and unfold it until it has defrosted!!

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the diced apples. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and flour. Add this sugar mix to the butter and apples and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 5-6 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Take your defrosted puff pastry and open the folds. To make the braid pieces, make diagonal cuts from the center, out and down. I used a pizza cutter. Click Here to view photos of how to make the cuts. Place all of the apple mixture down the center of the puff pastry.

4. Time to braid! Start with the top left flap and fold down, then the right, and so on, making sure to tuck each flap inside or else when you bake this any stray flap not tucked down and inside is going to puff up (it's called puff pastry after all!).

5. Whisk the egg and water, brush over top all of the exposed dough and sprinkle with the white sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Do not over bake!




Source: Little Bits Of

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Spinach Onion and Bacon Quiche

I almost have a 10 month old baby. Seriously, how did this happen so quickly? I used to think people were exaggerating when they said time goes by so fast when you have a child. But now, I swear I gave birth to her, blinked, and here we are 10 months later. My cooking and baking took a serious hit when she arrived. Not only am I constantly tired, I have zero motivation at the end of the day to start slicing and dicing.

Serving up a good breakfast can be a bit easier. I'm not tired from a full day of work, and have a bit more energy to get in the kitchen.

The original recipe called from spinach and mushrooms, I adapted a bit and created bacon, onion and spinach. Packed with savory flavor, and of course tons of melty cheese.






-1 Pillsbury pre-made refrigerated piecrust
-10oz box frozen spinach
-4 slices bacon, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1/4 cup diced white onion
-5 eggs
-1 cup whole milk
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded cheese (combo of Cheddar and Mozzarella)
-salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. Cook frozen spinach according to package instructions, drain well.When oven is heated, place your thawed pie crust in baking pan, prick the bottom with a fork a few times and bake for 8 minutes.

2. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the EVOO and diced onion. Cook 5-6 minutes until onions start to brown a bit. Add the bacon pieces and cook until desired crispiness. Add the garlic pieces and cook a bit more to release the garlic flavor. Pour onto a paper towel and set side.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble, spoon the drained spinach into the bottom of the pie crust and spread evenly, if you don't use all the spinach that's OK. Next, add the bacon mixture, the shredded cheeses, and lastly pour over top the whisked eggs. Bake for 50 minutes.

Source: Sallys Baking Addiction

Monday, June 11, 2018

Stitch Fix Review

Being pregnant was great for my wardrobe. It was the first time since I was a teen I didn't feel like I had to hide my stomach or try every fashion trick to look as slim as possible. But then this thing happens where you have the baby and you're not pregnant anymore and everything goes back to the way it was but now you have a stomach that was is definitely more stretched out than it was before. And just like that I'm back to where I was...trying to hide, trying to use all black to look as thin as I could. And shopping? Oh boy...

My typical shopping trips looked a little something like:

1. Enter mall with positive energy excited to discover the next staple pieces of my wardrobe.
2. Try on countless pieces at several stores, of which 0 things work.
3. Accept that out of 7 billion people in the world I alone have the only body that cannot be dressed.
4. Get a Starbucks Grande Latte with extra espresso.
5. Continue to hide in all black outfits.

So you can see I really needed a fashion intervention. It was time for Stitch Fix.

The style review is pretty in depth. It's not just what sizes you wear, height, weight etc....you'll look at sample outfits and rate whether you love or hate it, you can share a Pinterest board of your style inspirations, and what you love to flaunt or hide. You also get to direct them on the price points you're comfortable with. And, it's not just clothes. You can opt to have accessories like shoes, bags, and jewelry included to finish your outfits.

How does the pricing work? Well, when they start your box you'll be charged $20, that's the only upfront cost. Whatever you decided to buy from your box the $20 will be deducted from the total. And, if you keep everything in the box you get an extra 25% off! So if you get your box and hate everything, you're out $20.

Now you wait for your fix, I selected for 1 fix per month. You'll get 5 items, typically 4 clothes and an accessory although I decided to skip the accessory for 5 articles of clothing. So far I've received 3 boxes, here is what I kept from each and what I spent.

First, your clothing selections come wrapped up like a little present. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning breaking open the Stitch Fix sticker and opening the paper.



Box #1
In the first box your stylist is getting to know you. I didn't hate the other items, but they definitely missed the mark. I kept this fun shirt that is pretty versatile for either a night out or walking the park.
Spent: $24


Box #2
I liked this box. The grey and white shirt I never would have tried on. Stripes?! Those must make me look fat, and huge, and wide, and and and...and it fit and looked awesome?? Ok keep. The dress was 100% me.
Spent: $56


Box #3
I feel like I'm back to where I started. The only thing I kept was....black. When I read the overview that's included in each box I saw I have a new stylist, so I think perhaps she's getting to know my style. I saw a positive change between Box #1 and #2...and then #3 was just "eh". The fits weren't right, a crop top that definitely was not me. But, I did like this even though it's right back in my safety zone.
Spent: $24


So what do you do now that you've received your box and have items to keep and send back? Well, it's really easy.

1. Go online to your account, checkout by selecting the items you're keeping and mark the items you're sending back. And, you can leave detailed reviews of all the items as to why you loved them, why you hated them, and what you thought of the quality and price.
2. They give you a prepaid USPS bag, simply put in the items you don't want and schedule a USPS pickup. Done!

Even though I never keep all items from the boxes, I've got to say I really love Stitch Fix. It's a fun excitement when you get your box knowing there's surprise treats inside. I also love the comfort and convenience of trying everything on at home, no need to trek to the mall. Another bonus is you have your entire wardrobe handy...you can see what the top looks like with your skinny jeans, what that dress looks like with your gold sandals, or what the distressed jeans look like with your favorite tank top.

If I get a box where I truly don't want anything, I'm out $20...which is pretty close to what I spent on that Starbucks triple grande latte.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? What do you think?


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Blue Apron Review

As a food blogger I love discovering new recipes and coming up with my own twists to share with everyone. But...having an almost 8 month old baby drains me of almost every ounce of physical and mental energy. Sometimes, the thought of "What's for dinner?" makes my brain turn to mush and the only thing I'm capable of doing is pressing the "Order Now" button on Seamless. I'm pretty sure the Greek restaurant thinks I don't own a single cooking tool.

Enter Blue Apron.

For my first Mother's Day my mom gifted me a few weeks of this recipe delivery service and I was super excited to get started. I thought it might be helpful to share my experiences!

Spoiler: I love it and keeping with it!

1. If you're wanting easy peasy meals that are ready on the table in 20 minutes then you can see yourself out. This IS cooking. You will be cutting veggies. You will be dicing potatoes. You will be cooking. I think this surprises some people.

2. The weekly meal selection has great variety, you'll definitely find things you like. And, it's a great way to try new things with low risk. Something that kept me away from certain recipes in the past was having to buy so many new ingredients that I wasn't sure if I liked, or they were pricey. Then, if I don't like it I'm stuck with the ingredient. With Blue Apron I've already tried several new things! Guess what, I like miso, I like orange peppers, I like avocado salad dressing made with orange juice!

3. The recipes look daunting, but they do a great job of breaking down each step in the right order so every part of the meal is done at the same time.


4. The recipes are really good and have a lot of flavor. I was also pleased with the portions. They appeared normal to me. They are not the totally gluttonous portions a restaurant delivers but I think they are adequate and I was never feeling like I was short changed.


5. It typically only requires either a pot/pan or pan/baking pan. What I mean is, there doesn't appear to be recipes that require every pot, pan, and baking pan you own to get the meal done. It's condensed so that the cooking portion only needs 2 things. Less cleanup? Yes please!


6. They seem to get "easier". The first time I cooked a Blue Apron I felt like it took me longer than I thought, but now I breeze through them. You learn their recipe styles and you become more skilled at progressing through the steps!

So if you read my spoiler above this is a repeat, but I really do like it. Is it saving on my grocery budget? No. Is it super fast cooking? No. Is it one-pot meals? No. What it is is something that takes a little thinking off my plate. (pun intended) It solves the "What's for dinner?" dilemma. It delivers me my ingredients and I never have the moment of "I forgot the 'insert vital recipe ingredient here'!"

Do you agree with me? Have you tried a food delivery service?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Summer Pasta Salad

Ok so pasta salad can technically be eaten during any season, not just summer. There's no food law that says you must wait until June 21 to begin consuming pasta salad and immediately stop on September 22. But, why I'm calling this Summer Pasta Salad is because it's such a popular item to bring to cookouts and pool parties and what I love about this recipe is that there is no mayo! We've all seen the "I've been in the sun way too long mayo-based pasta salad" on just about every buffet table at every cookout. Another great thing about this one? It's so dang good the bowl will be empty before anyone even has time to question how long it sat out.

A few notes on this...you definitely want to use small pasta like mini penne, mini bowtie, or shells. You can reduce the amount of sour cream and increase the French dressing our try it with a low fat sour cream. Be adventurous and add in a few other fixins if you'd like!


- 3 cups uncooked pasta
-1/4 cup diced red onion
-1 and 1/2 cups diced Canadian ham
-1 package frozen peas, cooked
-1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper
-16oz contained sour cream
-1/2 cup French dressing
-1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta. In a bowl, combine the cooked pasta, red onion, ham, and peas.

2. In another small bowl, mix the sour cream and French dressing, then season with the salt and pepper.

3. Add the dressing to the other ingredients and stir until coated. Pour in the shredded cheese and mix well. Chill for a few hours before serving.

Source: Recipe Photos By

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies

I believe I have your attention now.

I consider myself a little lucky that when I was pregnant with Miss Lilly I avoided many of the typical pregnancy symptoms. No morning sickness. No food aversions. No cravings. There's an episode of the I Love Lucy show when Lucy is pregnant with Little Ricky and she craved something like ice cream and anchovies. "Is that what being pregnant does to you!?" Well, I guess not for everyone. But, if you do get food cravings, I hope they are for something delicious like chocolate, then you can make these bad boys and devour every calorie that is totally worth it



-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons milk
-1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate morsels
-about 15-17 chocolate coated caramels, original recipe calls for Rolos, I couldn't find those so I used Riesen's
-coarse sea salt

1. With your mixer and the paddle attachment, cream the butter about 20 seconds then add the white and brown sugars and continue mixing at medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

2. In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and the 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Slowly add this to the wet ingredients then stir in the milk. Fold in the dark chocolate morsels.  The dough is going to be very sticky. Chill for 1-2 hours.

3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Now, take 2 tablespoons of the dough and split in half. Rolls each part into a ball. Take one of the caramel candies and stick it into one of the dough balls then top with the other ball. (lol, how many times can I say 'ball' in one recipe?) Seal both pieces of dough together to secure the candy inside. Repeat until all your dough and candies are used. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little seas salt. Bake 12-13 minutes.

Note: These are really good served warm. I found that the caramel got a little hard if you eat these at room temperature, so if you don't eat them right out of the oven pop them in your microwave for a few seconds to make them warm and gooey. Enjoy!

Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Look Back

So there's no recipe here.

I wanted to take a post and look back on the history of A Seasoned Greeting.

For those of you that are newcomers, this didn't begin as A Seasoned Greeting. Oh no. Believe it or not I haven't always been so punny. This actually began as Kut's Kitchen and armed with my iPhone 3 camera I embarked on a cooking blog in March 2011.

Wow, 7 years ago. 7 years of recipes, of food photos, of failed recipes, of discovering new flavors and family favorites.

There's been horrible photos.


There's been a crazy couponing phase.


There's been camera upgrades.

There's been a move from South Caroline to New Jersey, a divorce, a marriage, and a baby.

It's been a life changing few years, here's to the next 7 years of blogging and all the delicious dishes to come!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Nachos

So now that we've all come to terms that unfortunately we need to watch the Patriots in the Super Bowl yet again, it's time to start finalizing those party menus.

What I love about these nachos is that they're super easy but have tons of flavor from the browned corn, spicy pepper jack cheese, creamy feta, and a hit of lime at the end. Nothing bugs me more than a dish that looks deceptively easy. A few weekend mornings go I was watching Valerie Bertinelli's show on Food Network. On the menu was a chicken breast stuffed with spinach, Parmesan cheese, and roasted red peppers. "Wow, so easy! Perfect for a weeknight dinner," I incorrectly thought to myself.

On a Wednesday night I decided it was perfect to try this "easy" Food Network dinner.
Butterfly the chicken. Ok, easy peasy.
Pound chicken thin. No biggie, that's what that empty wine bottle is good for.
Stuff with cooked spinach, diced roasted red peppers, Panko, and Parmesan. Hold on. I have to cook the spinach and dice the roasted red peppers. Gimme a few minutes.
Take stuffed chicken and roll and tie with twine to secure. You know how hard it is to roll stuffed chicken and keep all the goodness inside and get it tied just so? Well it's not hard but it's not exactly like tying your shoes.
Pan sear all the chicken rolls before baking. Now we're getting into two cooking methods? Come on I'd thought I'd be eating by now.
To make the sauce....Wait, there's a sauce?! How did I miss this part on TV? I don't even have the ingredients for this!!!!

So in the end we ate a sauceless chicken that was so-so and not worth the time.

But you won't be saying that with these nachos.

Every time I make these there isn't a morsel left on the plate. Every last piece of corn and feta crumble makes it onto a chip. I promise you these will be your new party menu staple!




-1-2 tablespoons butter
-1 can corn
-1 tablespoon mayonnaise
-1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
-1 cup light cream or half and half 
- 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
-1 bag tortilla chips
-1/3 cup cotija or feta, crumbled (I used feta since I coulnd't find cotija, you can add as much as you like)
-cayenne to taste
-1 lime, cut into wedges

1. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, corn, and a dash of cayenne. Saute until the corn has browned.

2. Pour cooked corn into a bowl and add the mayo, stir to combine.

3. In the sauce pan over medium heat, add the cream, shredded cheese and corn starch. Heat until simmering and the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened.

4. To assemble, place chips on a large platter. Pour cheese sauce, then the corn, then the crumbled feta or cotija. Squeeze 2 lime wedges over top. Enjoy!

Source: Closet Cooking

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Whipped Feta

Introducing an appetizer game-changer. Move over tired cheese display, whipped feta is making an appearance.

Yes, whipped feta.

So easy but this looks and tastes much more complex. I was looking for a simple snack to whip together (pun intended) as we watched football this past Sunday. I thought we'd be watching the Jaguars send the Patriots back to the locker room as a group of sad losers but unfortunately it was quite the opposite. That's OK. There was another game right after that so we got ready to watch the Vikings send the Eagles to the locker room as a group of sad lo.....wait, that didn't happen either.

Make this for your Super Bowl party and we'll all be watching as we hope the Eagles are victorious.


-6 oz crumbled feta cheese
-2 oz cream cheese
-3 teaspoons Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo
-salt and pepper to taste
-Basil Infused Olive Oil

1. In a food processor, pulse the feta until very fine. Add the cream cheese. mayo, salt/pepper and blend until smooth, adding a bit more mayo to desired consistency if needed.

2. Serve on a plate and drizzle with basil infused olive oil. Serve with crackers, bread sticks, or bread.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

If liking pumpkin spice is basic, well call me basic.

But basic these cookies are not. Overly flavorful, completely spiced, and totally chewy and soft. I guarantee you these will be a must-have for every Holiday season so come!


-2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 1/3 cups white sugar, divided
-1 stick butter, softened
-1/2 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
-1/4 cup molasses
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 -1 2/3 cups Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice Morsels (These aren't the easiest to find, I found them at Walmart)

1. Heat oven to 350 and lightly grease your baking sheets. (Note the dough chills for an hour before baking)

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat 1 cup of the sugar and the butter until creamy. Add in the pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vanilla. stir to combine well. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the morsels. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.

3. Shape dough into balls and roll in the remaining sugar. Bake for 11-13 and let cool for a few minutes before you remove them from the sheet.


Source: Nestle