Sunday, December 11, 2016

Peppermint Bark~~ two versions

I have two recipes for you this time. One is only 4 ingredients and the other is only 3. Don't you just love that!

I found the Red Bird mints at my local dollar store, my regular grocery store sells them for $2.69 a bag. I prefer the softer mint to bite into, but if you want more crunch you can break up some candy canes. I must confess my weakest link is candy making. We can conquer our candy making skills together!

Peppermint Bark is a seasonal tradition over the Holidays and I'm going to show you one of the easiest candy recipes ever. Most folks love getting homemade scrumptious goodies over the Holidays. Share the love with your friends and family. Enjoy!


  • 1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli dark melting wafers
  •  3/4 tsp. plus another 3/4 tsp Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli white melting wafers
  • 2, 4 oz bags of Red Bird soft peppermint puffs
  • mini Christmas designed paper candy cups.
You will need 1 qt zip lock bags and a meat mallet to break up candy pieces.

1) Open Peppermint candies and place inside a qt size zip lock bag, then place on top of a cutting board. Now break candy into tiny pieces using the flat side of a meat mallet, set aside.

2) Open paper cups and place one each inside the mini muffin tin, set aside.

3) Make a double boiler (one small saucepan inside a medium size saucepan with about 2 inches of hot water in the Medium pan), heating over low heat, now add the dark wafers. Stirring  occasionally with a wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted, it melt quickly. Once chocolate is melted add 3/4 tsp of the peppermint extract and whisk together until it is blended well. 

4) Add the chocolate mixture to the zip lock bag, squeeze out excess air then seal it off. Cut off one corner of the bag and fill each paper cup 1/3 full. It will flow easily and you will not need to squeeze the bag to release it. As a matter of fact it will flow fast and you need to be careful it does not come out to quickly. Set aside, do not refrigerate.

5) Repeat step #3 only using the 2 cups of white chocolate. Then fill paper cups almost to the top with the white chocolate mixture.

6) Sprinkle candy crumbs on top and gently press into the melted chocolate. I used a small iced tea spoon to sprinkle candy crumbs on top. 

7) Cool for about 1 hour then place into a airtight container for later or you may eat some right now.

  • 2 cups Ghirardelli white melting wafers
  • Red Bird soft peppermint puffs, leftover from above recipe.
  • 3/4 tsp. Pure Peppermint Extract
You will also need a sheet of wax paper and a cookie sheet.

1) Repeat above directions from step #3 on mini peppermint bark cups, but using 2 cups of white wafers.

2) Line cookie sheet with wax paper and spread about a 1/4 inch layer of the chocolate on top.

3) Gently drop crushed peppermints on top of melted chocolate and gently press into chocolate. Place in refrigerator for about 45 minutes or until chocolate has completely hardened.

4) Break bark into uneven portions and place in an airtight container to eat later or you may enjoy some now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Mom's Manicotti! This recipe has been in my family for many generations. My Italian Great Grandmother taught my Mom how to make these delicious treasures. In turn my Mom shared this recipe with me and you have been chosen to reap the rewards of this family tradition. These babies are so light and tasty in your mouth, but surprisingly filling. It's a little extra work, but oh so worth it. Also this is one of my most requested recipes from my family and friends. It's a favorite of mine as well. I say it's time to spoil those special people in your life. Let those fat cells sing!


  • 2 cups all purpose sifted flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • oil cooking spray, I use the olive oil one

To make pancakes, combine flour, water, and salt. Beat with whisk until smooth, then beat in eggs. Preheat two 5-6 inch nonstick skillets on med low heat and spray with oil. You do not need to oil every time. Put in ¼ cup batter and roll around to distribute evenly. Cook until firm, do not brown. Turn & cook lightly on other side, they cook quickly. Just stack pancakes on a plate, they will not stick together. Continue until all batter is used, this will make about 24 pancakes.


  • 2 lbs part skim ricotta
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and some extra to top off later
  • 8 oz grated Italian cheese blend, I use reduced fat Sargento
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together above ingredients well. Place about 2 heaping Tbsp of filling and roll up. Spray large roasting pan with oil and coat bottom of pan with 1 ½ cup spaghetti sauce. Place Manicotti seam side down. Cover lightly with sauce and sprinkle on some more Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes covered with foil. Makes about 24 Manicotti.

This recipe was a favorite when I was growing up. It is an old family recipe. You can save time by making the pancakes a day in advance, just stack them up, cover and refrigerate.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Turkey Croquettes

Turkey Croquettes bring back warm family childhood memories. My Mom made these every year from the leftover Thanksgiving day turkey. My Dad swears they are his all time favorite, rightly so as we only ate them once a year. This was my Mom's recipe and as you know there are many croquette recipes out there. This one is simple and easy to make, but a tad bit time consuming. I highly recommend you make them early in the day and let them chill thoroughly. A very chilled and set croquette will save you the hassle of them breaking apart while cooking. I was quickly reminded of that as I rushed mine too soon and a few broke apart on me.

                 ***You will need a food processor to grind the meat for this recipe.***

White sauce;

  • 2 cups milk, I used fat free organic
  • 6 Tbsp of salted butter
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  •  1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, add flour as soon as it is melted and whisk together. Quickly add the milk, salt and pepper. Stir constantly until mixture has thickened. Remove from hot saucepan and set aside to cool in a medium size bowl. Reserve 3/4 cup of the white sauce for later use.

  • 4 cups of turkey (I used 1 cup dark meat & 3 cups white meat)
  • 1 1/2 cup white sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • bread crumbs
  • canola oil
  • Leftover turkey gravy

Add meat to food processor and do short pulses until meat is finely ground, it grinds quickly. Now finely dice 1/2 cup of sweet onion.

Add the white sauce to the large bowl of meat & onion mixture, mix well. Cover and chill for several hours.

Once meat mixture is chilled spoon out 1/3 cup portions of the meat mixture. I like to set them on plastic wrap on my kitchen counter. Then roll one at a time into the bread crumbs and set onto a very large platter and chill in refrigerator, covered until ready to cook.

I added the remaining 3/4 cup of white sauce to the rest of my leftover gravy to help stretch the gravy. Heat this over low heat in a saucepan and stir occasionally with a wire whisk to blend well.

Meanwhile heat up a large 12 inch skillet over medium heat with about 1 inch of canola oil in it. Once oil is hot enough cook in 2 separate batches, it important to not crowd the pan. They should take about 3 minutes on each side ( flip when nicely browned), only flipping once.  I cooked mine 5 at one time, then 6 next time. This recipe makes 11 croquettes.

Place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain off excess oil. Serve immediately with some gravy on top. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sweet Pea Salad

Sweet Pea Salad is not only ever so easy to make, it is so scrumptious too. The secret to it tasting so good is the petite frozen peas, they are so sweet and frozen at their perfection for you to enjoy year round. There is one other secret......Bacon....yes..... Bacon! Bacon lovers claim just about everything tastes better with Bacon. For the people who do not eat bacon you can always leave it on the side to use as a garnish instead of stirring it into the salad, but I must warn you about the Bacon mongers. They may all take the Bacon for themselves. So if you have a Bacon monger nearby you must guard the Bacon. :)

  • two 1 lb bags frozen petite peas, thawed in cold water & drained well.
  • 3/4 cup spring onions cleaned & sliced thin, green tops too.
  • 1/2 cup Aldi's Fit & Active Mayonnaise or Hellman's light
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 8 oz thick cut Bacon cooked crispy & crumbled
  • 2/3 cup shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
In a large bowl add frozen peas and cover them with cold water, set aside on counter to thaw. 

Cook the Bacon until brown and crispy, Drain onto paper towels and as soon as it is cool enough to touch crumble and seal into plastic bag and refrigerate for later use.

In a large bowl mix together; Mayonnaise, spring onions, salt, pepper, paprika, & vinegar.

Drain peas well in colander and make sure they are thawed and not still frozen and stuck together in clumps, rinse under cold water if you need to thaw more. Drain very well!

Add peas and cheese to the Mayonnaise mixture and stir well, chill overnight or for several hours. Add Bacon just before serving and stir in evenly or you may use Bacon as an optional garnish.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts never tasted so good. These scrumptious babies were so delicious that I had to make them twice in one week. Hey what's to stop me, I may go for a third time. I know my Stud Muffin will not complain because he said....."I never want to eat Brussels Sprouts any other way." I must admit I agree with him (for once), on this one. I would even think that you could convert non eating Brussels Sprouts people into eating them. I dare you to try!

  • 1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp salted sweet cream butter
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Rinse and trim bottoms off, then cut in half lengthwise

                                                           They should look just like mine. They look big in the pic, but they are small. It's the tiny colander that makes them look bigger. Some of the outer leaves may fall off, make sure they get thrown into the skillet too.

Preheat the a nonstick skillet over medium heat with the olive oil and butter, then add the Brussels. You will need to cook them flat side down for about 7-10 minutes or until you see them caramelize. I turn them over one at a time pushing aside the caramelized ones to the cooler edge of the pan and moving the ones that are not browned yet into the hotter area. Please ignore my blurry pic. :)

Once they are all turned lower the heat to low and place a lid on top. Cook until tender about 7-10 more minutes. If they are ready before your meal is I just turn off the heat and leave the lid on until ready to serve.

                                                                                      I can't look at this pic without my mouth watering and I just ate them for Dinner! Yummy!!!

                                                                                                                                                         3- 4  servings.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Corn Dogs

I love Corn Dogs! They bring back wonderful memories of my childhood. I remember eating my first Corn Dog at a fair in Oklahoma City. Yes, I did live there for 4 years as a child. I was too young to know that I was very different than the other folks there. A dark skinned, dark haired Italian girl with hair down to her butt and a Philadelphia accent. I remember tornadoes and frying eggs on the sidewalk in the Summer. I was picking up the Oklahoma accent just as my Dad was transferred to Frederick, MD, where I have lived since 1966. ~~~ Back to one of my first loves, Corn Dogs. It was love at first bite! My biggest dilemma at the time was how to get enough mustard on there without making a mess. Well I went for it and it was drizzled on for me by my parents, but you can use the dipping method if you prefer. I don't know about you, but they scream for mustard. You can have several different mustard's for a taste test until you find the perfect one for you. You can't go wrong with this wiener, I love the saltiness of the dog paired with the sweetness of the corn bread and the spicy mustard. Corn Dog Lovers Unite!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cup fine ground cornmeal, I used Goya brand
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  •  1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • oil for frying, I used canola
  • 7 inch wooden skewers
  • 1 pack Hebrew National Reduced Fat Beef Franks 
IMPORTANT TIP; You must use a thin dog for this recipe. I chose Hebrew National Reduced Fat Beef Franks because they only have 1g of fat, 45 calories and they are a thin dog. Great taste too!

First I like to skewer the hot dogs by pushing skewer in about halfway or so.

In a medium bowl mix together the first 6 ingredients. Set aside.

In another medium size bowl whisk egg until bubbly like freshly poured soda fizz. 
Add the buttermilk, & honey to the egg and mix well. Set aside.

Preheat oil to 350 degrees in large deep skillet filling it to about 1 inch deep, once oil is heated immediately mix batter together.

I like to add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently stir until just mixed. It will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but the batter will be light and fluffy. DO NOT OVERMIX. 

Pour batter into a tall 12 oz drinking glass and dip wiener into the glass, swirl it around to evenly coat. You can fry 2-3 dogs at a time for about 45 seconds turning each quickly with tongs as they brown. I highly recommend using a thermometer to know your oil temp.

Immediately place onto a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil and eat immediately. If you want to serve them all at once you may keep them hot in a 275 degree oven until all are cooked.

This made 7 Corn Dogs. I meant to try frying up the rest of the batter and sprinkling on some powdered sugar. Darn, I forgot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mexican Calzone

I love Mexican and Italian food! So I thought.....Why not marry the two food cultures together. That's the ticket, a Mexican Calzone! Fresh baked goodness for a nice savory meal. This would go well with a nice tossed salad as a side for a scrumptious meal. Or if you want a hearty snack, then these babies will fill you right on up. It has creamy deliciousness with just the right zest and some chicken to boot.

  • 1 cup of Thick & chunky salsa in jar (hot).
  • 1 4.5oz. can chopped green chiles
  • 1 10oz. can chicken breast packed in water, drained
  • 1 package of Pillsbury Grand Flakey Layer Buttermilk biscuits, 8 ct.
  • 1 1/2 cup reduced fat grated Mexican cheese blend
  •  1 8oz package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile in large bowl mix together cream cheese, salsa, grated cheese & green chiles. Now drain the chicken and lightly break up chicken pieces and add to cheese mixture, mix together well. 

Next you will need to roll out biscuits onto a floured surface until they are 6 inches round, repeat with remaining biscuits until all are done. 

Next add 1/3 cup of the meat mixture onto the biscuit dough.

Brush 1/2 of the edge of the biscuit with water, then fold over and crimp closed with a fork to seal. Repeat this until all are prepared.

             Bake them in a 425 degree oven for about 13 - 15 minutes or until golden brown. You may want to do an egg wash over top of the Calzone's if you would like that nice golden brown color on top. I did not do that this time, but it really makes it look much nicer. I must confess.... I forgot!

I would let these cool for about 5 minutes before you serve them, unless you know someone who needs their throat cauterized. Also You may want to serve some extra salsa on the side for a dipping sauce. Comer or Mangiare!

I had about 1 cup of the chicken cheese mixture leftover. You could open another pack of biscuits to make 3 more or serve it on a tortilla as a Quesadilla or two.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Meatball Treaties for Dogs ~~~ No Bake

Our 85 lb Labrador just loves these treaties. He patiently waits by my side until they are prepared, only because he knows he will not get one until they are all made. If your dog has a sensitive tummy to Gluten products have no fear, you can buy the Gluten Free oats as well if need be. They do smell good enough to eat so I tasted a little bite and I now know why Teddy loves them so much. It's helpful to have a cookie dough scoop to form the meatballs. If your dog is smaller breed than my big galoot you could easily cut the meatball into halves or quarters (once chilled), for a smaller serving size. Celebrate with some treaty treasures for your furry baby. Oh and I must mention that they are very easy to make, that makes for double goodness.

I found out that my squirrels love these meatballs too. I cut them in 1/2 and set them on my deck railings. The little fellas look so cute munching on the meatballs.

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter, Xylitol free
  • 1 15oz can 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
  •  1/3 cup honey
  •  5 cups oats 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
IMPORTANT TIP! Make sure that your peanut butter does not have XYLITOL in the ingredient list as it is TOXIC to dogs. If you want to be extra cautious use organic peanut butter for your furry baby.

You will need a large cookie sheet, wax paper, cookie dough scoop and a large mixing bowl for this recipe. I was lucky enough to find a large bag of Steel cut oats at my local wholesale food club. 

Add all of the above ingredients into a large bowl and mix well until all is blended in and oats are covered. 

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper, then scoop out meatballs with a cookie dough scoop onto your hand. Roll each one into a ball and place onto cookie sheet until all are rolled. It about makes 54 meatballs. 

Now place cookie sheet into the refrigerator for about 1 hour, then come back and transfer them into a air tight container separating each layer with a sheet of wax paper.

They will keep for 3 weeks refrigerated or up to 3 months in the freezer. How cool is that!

                                                                         I found the large bag of oats above at my local wholesale food club. I love a bargain because that is how I roll.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

I must admit that I love popcorn. Is there anyone out there that doesn't? The days of popping it on top of your stove was over ruled by microwave popcorn, but at a cost and it's not just to your wallet. I hope you are brave enough to read the ingredient list on the store bought versions, that speaks volumes. I have read many articles about how bad the store bought versions are so I gave up my microwave popcorn. Until....I made this version myself. Now once again I can eat my popcorn with wild abandonment and not feel guilty. Freedom! A girl just needs a crunchy salty snack every now and then. You may add any seasoning that you wish, salt, garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, etc. My son bought me some cheese popcorn seasoning for popcorn, he knows I'm a sucker for a new spice. Thank you Matt for inspiring me to make this recipe.

  • 1/2 cup popcorn
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil
  • salt, or seasoning of your choice 
  • lunch bag size brown paper bag, mine was 6 1/8 x 4 x 12 3/8 inches

In a medium size bowl add popcorn, oil, and salt. Mix together well and pour into bag, folding and sealing many times over. 

All microwaves are different, but mine was cooked perfectly after 2 minutes. If you are unsure about time just stand there and watch and as soon as it stops popping continuously remove it from the microwave.

Carefully open it because it is very hot and hot steam comes out when you open it. So don't be a ding a ling and peek into the bag and burn your eyeball! Did I just say that, yes I did, please be careful. Open it over top of your serving bowl and eat ASAP. Season it with more seasoning if needed. Enjoy!

* CLEAN UP TIP* Make sure you wipe out your microwave oven bottom to get the oil spot left behind.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Roasted Chicken Roaster ~ Spatchcock Style

Spatchcock Chicken Roaster was a big winner at our house tonight. I love to roast my chicken on the grill, but I needed to make a cooking adjustment for this windy cold Winter day. All you need to do is cut out the backbone and press hard on this baby bone side down on the breast to help flatten it out, then season and bake. Soon you will be rewarded with a tender juicy chicken with nice crispy skin. Bingo! I added a small bag of Yukon Gold potatoes to the mix and roasted those babies right on in there with Mr.Roaster. Also this method of cooking makes it so much easier to carve and speeds up the cooking time. You know what, I like this method better because crispy chicken skin and tender juicy chicken is where it's at.

  • Chicken Roaster, mine was a little over 8 lbs.
  • Mrs.Dash salt free seasoning (tomato, basil, & garlic flavor)
  • Yukon Gold gourmet petite potatoes, 1 1/2 lb bag
  • garlic flavored olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

The hardest part to this recipe is cutting away the backbone and trust me it's not that hard. My Stud Muffin did well removing it under my supervision. I recommend sharp kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. The average person can easily do this, shame on my Frankeneck for not letting me be able to.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile remove inside packet of gizzards, neck and such, rinse bird well inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on a large platter back side up. Cut out backbone down one side then the next, follow this on either side of the tail by back legs. I threw my insides and gizzard stuff away, but you could easily simmer it to make a broth for later or to make gravy. 

Sprinkle the chicken liberally with Mrs.Dash seasoning. My potatoes were cleaned and did not need to be washed. I guess gourmet means cleaned, ready to go and perfect. It should be for the price so if you want to save some money you can just wash and cut up a larger potato. Now add the potatoes to a medium size bowl and drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix until coated evenly.

Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray ~~~ for easier clean up. Place chicken in the center of the pan and scatter potatoes evenly around chicken. I scraped out the excess oil from the potato bowl and spread it evenly on top of the chicken skin.

Every oven is different, but my 8 lb roaster was ready after 90 minutes at 450 degrees. 

If you are cooking for more people you may want to double up on the potatoes. I love how the chicken juices season the potatoes, it makes them extra delicious. Be creative and add a variety of vegetables to roast. Also I'm sure the chicken fat leftover in the pan would make an excellent gravy for this meal. We are trying to watch what we eat so we did not indulge in making gravy for us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach

Oh boy did I hit the Jackpot when I made this recipe. It sounded so delicious and indeed it is. I love when I find a healthy recipe that is ever so tasty too. Double goodness! I found this recipe on the Kaiser Permanente site. I know it's not an original from me, but of course I put my own twist on it to make it extra special.

When I make soup it has to be a big batch, so I just about doubled the recipe for starters. Think big like me. Of course it needed more garlic (it keeps the vampires away), and a few other changes. Stud Muffin loved this one as much as I did and it was a first for me to make the same soup twice in one week. Once you try this baby you will crave it for a regular fix. I found the red lentils (look orange to me), in the dried bean section and I bought the Goya brand ones. I love Goya products, they have a great price and quality.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 10 cloves of garlic (yes count em 10), peeled and pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable base ( I used chicken)
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1, 16 oz bag of Goya red lentils
  • 8 oz bag fresh baby spinach

In a large soup pot over medium heat saute the garlic and onion until translucent. 

Add the next 8 ingredients to the soup pot and bring to a boil, now add the lentils and bring to a boil again. Cover pot and lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Then stir in the fresh spinach, don't worry it looks like alot at first, but then it wilts down. Stir well and simmer for about 5 more minutes or until the spinach wilts down. Enjoy!

I freeze the remaining tomato paste for later use, waste not want not. This soup is not only delicious and healthy, it is also so quick and easy to make. I knew I was in a love with this soup when I almost had it for breakfast, guess what ~  lunch time came a bit early that day.