Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bacon & Egg Crescent Wreath

Recently, I threw a winter-themed bridal shower brunch for my sister. I was looking for cute, but tasty foods to round out the menu and stumbled across this idea on Pinterest. While good for any season, the wreath shape fit my theme perfectly, was simple to make, and was a delicious hit with the guests.

1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls 
8 slices bacon, cooked
5 eggs, scrambled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scramble eggs on the stovetop.

On a cookie sheet or pizza pan, lay out the crescent rolls in a circle, with the thicker ends slightly overlapping (like a sunburst). Place a strip of bacon on each roll. (Tip: Though I am a crispy bacon-lover, when cooking your bacon, don't allow it to get too crisp to maintain flexibility.) Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese around the circular ring, on top of the bacon. Add scrambled eggs and top with another 1/3 of cheese. Fold over the ends of the crescents so that they meet in the middle, creating a wreath shape. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 17 minutes or until crescent is golden brown. Serve hot.

30 Fun Elf on the Shelf Ideas

If you haven’t discovered the popular Elf on the Shelf tradition yet, you are missing out! Mini elves are sent from the North Pole to keep an eye on little boys and girls during the holiday season, reporting back to Santa about behavior. Each night, the elf (named by your child) travels back to the North Pole to deliver his messages and sometimes gets into a little mischief upon his/her return. While there is some debate over whether or not the elves should cause mischief, do good deeds, or simply just move around, the choice is really yours.

Our elf, Jingles, was a huge hit this year and our kiddo is counting down the days to his return. He arrived the day after Thanksgiving and kept us entertained until Santa arrived on Christmas Eve night. If you’ve never experienced an Elf on the Shelf or just need some new schemes, here are 30 ideas to get you started.

1. Welcome letter with book
2. TP the Christmas tree
3. Caught in the cookie jar
4. Hang gliding
5. Hijack child's stocking
6. Pulling the topper off the Christmas tree

7. Gather food for a food drive 
8. Take a ride in a Barbie car
9. Movie night with a friend (don't forget the popcorn!)
10. Fishing for goldfish
11. Fill stocking with undies

12. Fill the advent calendar
13. Dress up in Mom's jewelry
14. Make a naughty/nice list
15. Leave a special gift (ours left a travel game the night before a trip)
16. Play video game

17. Fly in on a balloon 
18. Make a snow angel in sugar
19. Snack on a bowl of cereal
20. Read a Christmas book
21. Draw a picture on Mom's iPad

22. Sit on the Barbie toilet
23. Take a bubble bath
24. Clean the windows
25. Write a message in M&Ms
26. Drink syrup with a straw

27. Play dress-up with Barbie clothes 
28. Send a PNP video from Santa
29. Play a board game with friends
30. Wrap the toilet

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Soup

While my family was fortunate not to sustain any major damage from Hurricane Sandy this week, we did lose power for three days. Luckily, we have a gas range, so I was still able to cook on my stove top  This soup was bursting with flavor and was the perfect dish to ride out the storm.

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage 
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 qt. chicken broth or stock
1 can (15-oz) diced tomatoes (with garlic and oregano)
1 can (15-oz) cannellini beans
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 lb. shell pasta
1 handful fresh baby spinach leaves
Parmesan cheese for topping

In a large saucepan, brown sausage over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add carrots, onion, and garlic. Sauté for about 7 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add broth, tomatoes, and beans. Stir in basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, cover, and simmer for 7-8 minutes, until pasta is cooked. Remove from heat and stir in spinach just until wilted. Serve hot and top with shredded Parmesan.

*Adapted from Feast on the Cheap

Perfect Pot Roast

I’ll admit it. I’m not the biggest roast fan. It’s always been a little dry and flavorless for my taste. Until now. This roast made me a believer.

2-4 lb. roast or round steak 
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup catsup
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cube beef bouillon
1/4 tsp instant coffee
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika

Place roast in the bottom of a large crock pot. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low, 6-8 hours. Thinly slice and serve with remaining sauce.

*Adapted from and

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo and Grilled Chicken

Spice up a classic Alfredo dish with a hint of fall!

1 package cheese tortellini, prepared per package instructions
1 T butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced

Prepare tortellini per package instructions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in pumpkin, nutmeg, and onion powder. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes (stirring frequently), until sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add sauce and reserved cooking water to cooked tortellini and toss. Top with grilled chicken.

*Adapted from Family Fresh Meals

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crockpot Mexican Cream Cheese Chili Dip

One of my fellow pregnant friends from high school pinned this recipe on Facebook the other day and it looked so good, I just had to try it out. It is definitely not the healthiest dish but perfect for Sunday Football. 

2 frozen chicken breasts
1 28 oz. container organic diced tomatoes
1 can fire roasted green chilies
1 can fiesta corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
8 oz. cream cheese

Mexican cheese, for topping 

1. Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot. Cover with tomatoes, green chilies, corn, black beans, ranch dressing and spices. Stir to combine. Add in cream cheese. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, stirring twice.

2. Shred chicken using two forks. Return to crockpot. Serve dip in bowls with tortilla chips. Top with shredded cheese.

Recipe adapted from Rita's Recipes

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thai Chicken Wrap

You’re on the roadtrip from you-know-where, looking for a gas stop, and desperately seeking a meal option that is NOT a McDonalds. You pull into one of the many greasy options along the convenient tollway, expecting a gastrointestinal nightmare...

Been there? Yep, that’s right. This recipe was actually inspired by a rest area menu. And it was good. Really good. Enjoy.

Large whole wheat wrap 
1 scoop of cooked white (or Jasmine) rice
1 scoop cooked, diced chicken breast (for a quick fix, brown diced chicken with a bit of soy sauce)
1 scoop diced fresh mango
2-4 T peanut sauce (as much or as little as you like)
(optional) 1 palmful Asian slaw

Add all fillers to the center of the wrap, being careful not to overfill. Fold in the top and bottom and roll to create a burrito.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

With the start of football season and somewhat cooler temperatures, it's time to start making some of my favorite soups for fall! 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
26 oz. organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can green chilies
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole corn, drained
4 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried cilantro 
salt & pepper, to taste

For toppings: Mexican cheese, shredded, avocado, and crushed tortilla chips

1. Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove chicken and shred using forks. Return chicken to skillet and continue to cook on low for an additional hour or until ready to serve.

2. Top with cheese, avocado and crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Almond Poppy Seed Bread

I've been wanting to make something sweet for a while now and finally decided on this delicious poppy seed bread.

 For Bread:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 plus 1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/8 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. butter extract

For Glaze:
1/8 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. butter extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

(*Note: The reason that some of my measurements may seem funny is because I only made half a recipe (1 loaf) instead of 2 loaves, which follows the original recipe.)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease loaf pan and set aside.

2. Mix all ingrediants together. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

4. Cool bread in pan slightly before transferring to plate. Pour glaze over warm bread. Enjoy!

To make glaze: Heat all ingredients in saucepan and cook on medium until sugar is dissolved.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Monday, September 3, 2012

25 Alternatives to Book Reports

These creative ideas address multiple learning styles and many provide higher level thinking skills that aren’t found in the “typical” book report. Consider using several ideas and giving students a choice.

1. Design an advertising campaign to promote the sale of the book you read.  Include each of the following in your campaign; a poster, a radio or TV commercial, a magazine or newspaper ad, a bumper sticker, and a button.

2. Write a scene that could have happened in the book you read but didn’t.  After you have written the scene, explain how it would have changed the outcome of the book.

3. Create a board game based on events and characters in the book you read.  By playing your game, members of the class should learn what happened in the book. Your game must include the following; a game board, a rule sheet and clear directions, events and characters from the story on cards or on a game board.

4. Make models of three objects that were important in the book you read. On a card attached to each model, tell why the object was important in the book.

5. If the book you read involves a number of locations within a country or geographical area, plot the events of the story on a map. Make sure the map is large enough for us to read the main events clearly. Attach a legend to your map. Write a paragraph that explains the importance of each event indicated on your map.

6. Create a comic book version of the book you read that show the major events in the plot. Write captions for each drawing so that someone who did not read the book can understand the book illustrations.

7. Design a movie poster for the book you read. Cast the major characters in the book with real actors and actresses. Include a scene or dialogue from the book in a layout of the poster. Remember, you are trying to convince someone to see the movie based on the book, so your writing should be persuasive.

8. Make a test for the book you read. Include ten true false, ten multiple choice, and ten short essay questions. After writing the test, provide the answers for your questions.

9. Select one character from the book you read who has the qualities of a heroine or hero. List these qualities and tell why you think they are heroic.

10. Imagine that you are about to make a feature-length film of the novel you read. You have been instructed to select your cast from members of your class. Cast all the major characters in your novel from your classmates and tell why you selected each person for a given part. Consider both appearance and personality.

11. Plan a party for the characters in the book you read. In order to do this, complete each of the following tasks: (a) Design an invitation to the party, which would appeal to all of the characters. (b) Imagine that you are five of the characters in the book and tell what each would wear to the party. (c) Tell what food you will serve and why. (d) Tell what games or entertainment you will provide and why your choices are appropriate. (e) Tell how three of the characters will act at the party.

12. List five of the main characters from the book you read. Give three examples of what each character learned or did not learn in the book.

13. Obtain a job application from an employer in your area, and fill out the application as one of the characters in the book you read that might do. Before you obtain the application, be sure that the job is one for which a character in your book is qualified. If a resume is required, write it. (A resume is a statement that summarizes the applicant’s education and job experience. Career goals, special interests, and unusual achievements are sometimes included.)

14. You are a prosecuting attorney putting one of the characters from the book you read on trial for a crime or misdeed. Prepare your case on paper, giving all your arguments and supporting them with facts from the book.

15. Adapt the prosecuting attorney activity outlined above to a dual role project: In one role, present the prosecution’s case, and in the other, present the case for the defense. If a classmate has read the same book, you might make this a two-person project.

16. Make a shoebox diorama of a scene from a book you read. Write a paragraph explaining the scene, and attach it to the diorama.

17. Pretend that you are one of the characters in the book you read. Tape a monologue (one person talking) of that character telling of his or her experiences. Be sure to write out a script before taping.

18. Make a book jacket for the book you read. Include the title, author, and publishing company of the book on the cover. Be sure the illustration relates to an important aspect of the book. On the inside flap or on the back of your book jacket, write a paragraph telling about the book. Explain why this book makes interesting reading when writing this “blurb”.

19. Write a letter to a friend about the book you read. Explain why you liked or did not like the book.

20. Make a “ wanted” poster for a character in the book you read. Include the following: (a) a drawing of the character (you may use a magazine cutout), (b) a physical description of the character, (c) the character’s misdeeds, (d) other information about the character that you think is important, (e) the reward offered for the capture of the character.

21. Create a newspaper that is devoted entirely to the book you read. The front page should look as much like a real newspaper page as possible. The articles should be based on events and characters in the book.

22. Make a collage that represents major characters and events in the book you read. Use pictures and words cut from magazines in your collage. Include a paragraph that explains your collage.

23. Make a time line of the major events in the book you read. Be sure the divisions on the time line reflect the time periods in the plot. Use drawings or magazine cutouts to illustrate events along the time line.

24. Change the setting of the book you read. Describe how this change of setting would alter events and affect characters.

25. Retell the plot of the book you read as it might appear in a children’s picture book. Be sure that the vocabulary and images you use are appropriate for that age group. Include illustrations.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

White Chocolate Brownies

Gooey, chewy, and moist, these brownies will be the talk of your next potluck!

1 cup sugar 
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips, divided
5 T butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla, beating until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and stir in ¾ cup of white chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted. Pour the chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Gradually add in flour, baking powder, and salt until all ingredients are incorporated. Stir in additional ¾ cup white chocolate chips. Spread batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brownies are set.
Allow to cool completely. In a small bowl, melt the remaining white chocolate chips in 30-second increments in the microwave. Use a whisk to spread strands of melted white chocolate on top of the brownies. Once chocolate has cooled, cut brownies into squares.

*Adapted from Cookies & Cups

Monday, August 27, 2012

Puffed Apple Cobbler

My family and I recently spent a fun afternoon picking apples at a local orchard. So much fun, in fact, that we ended up bringing home way more fruit than we knew what to do with! I devised this tasty dessert that tastes like a caramel apple cobbler but has the consistency of a bread pudding. Served with vanilla ice cream, it was a hit with the whole family!

4 large apples, peeled and chopped 
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 cups Bisquick or other baking mix
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups milk
1 cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine peeled and chopped apples with brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread apples onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

In a separate bowl, whisk together Bisquick, pumpkin pie spice, milk, and melted margarine until smooth. Pour over apples.

Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and crust is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Broiled Haddock Parmesan

This versatile, flavorful dish can be made with most any light white fish, from haddock to tilapia, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese 
¼ cup butter, softened
3 T mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
¼ tsp basil
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
1-2 lbs haddock filets (Tip: One haddock fillet is plenty for two people!)

Preheat the broiler over high heat. Prepare a broiler pan with cooking spray. (Tip: To avoid a messy clean-up, try covering the broiler pan with foil and then spraying.)

In a small bowl, whisk together parmesan cheese, butter, mayo, and lemon juice. Stir in basil, pepper, onion powder, and celery salt.

Arrange filet(s) on the prepared pan. Place under broiler, a few inches from heat, for 2-3 minutes. Flip the filet(s) and broil for 2-3 additional minutes. Cover the top of the filet(s) with the parmesan mixture and broil for 2-3 more minutes, until the topping is browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

*Recipe adapted from

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

2 cups  flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-by-8 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In an electric mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time until combined. Beat in sour cream and vanilla  until combined.

3. Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Once combined, pour half of batter into prepared pan.

4. In small bowl, combine topping ingredients (sugars and cinnamon). Sprinkle batter with 1/2 of topping and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Cover with remaining batter. Top with sugar mixture and chocolate chips.

5. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Chicken Orzo Casserole

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb chicken tenders, diced into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese
Salt & pepper
1 cup orzo, cooked according to package directions
1/3 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9-by-9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Cook chicken in olive oil over medium heat in skillet until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet.

3. Add butter and onions to skillet. Saute for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add milk, chicken brother and flour. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Reduce heat to low, add Mexican cheese and stir until melted and combined. Stir in chicken and cooked orzo.

5. Pour into baking dish. Top with bread crumbs, paprika, and parsley.

6. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemon Cream-Cheese Bars

These scrumptious bars have become one of my most-requested potluck favorites. So tasty and yet, so simple!

1 box lemon cake mix 
1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 T lemon juice
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix cake mix with 1 egg and 1/3 cup oil until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mix and pat the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and remaining egg with an electric mixer until creamy. Spread over the baked crust. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top and bake for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

*Recipe from Sweet Treats and More

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pineapple Orange Smoothie

Cool down this summer with this delicious fruit smoothie!

1/2 cup crushed ice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 cup diced pineapple
2 clementines, peeled and separated
1 container vanilla Greek yogurt (5 oz)

1. Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

2. Enjoy!

Tuna Artichoke Casserole

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can tuna, drained 
1 can artichoke hearts, diced
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend
2 1/2 cup uncooked pasta shells
salt & pepper, to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.

3. In medium saucepan, saute onions until tender. Add in mushrooms and saute until almost tender. In small bowl, combine chicken broth and flour. Reduce heat to medium and add chicken broth mixture to onions. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook until sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low.

4.. Add in tuna, artichoke hearts and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Transfer into baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beer-Battered Haddock

Living on the East Coast now, I’ve made it my goal to become an expert at preparing seafood. What better way to start than classic, New England fish and chips?

4 cups vegetable oil 
1-1   ½ lbs boneless haddock fillets, cut into large chunks
2  cups flour
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 (12-oz) bottle of beer

Preheat oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer or large pot.  
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 ½ cups of flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and beer. Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper; coat with beer batter. Dredge the fish pieces in the remaining ½ cup of flour and then place gently into the hot oil. (Tip: Check to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small spoonful of batter into the pot. If it begins to fry quickly, your oil is ready.) Fry fish, turning frequently, until the batter is deep golden and the fish is cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel. Serve with French fries.

*Adapted from Paula Dean

Blueberry Crisp

This mouthwatering dessert was one of my favorites as a child and remains so as an adult. Nothing says summer like fresh blueberries and this dish is the perfect end to a summer evening. Top off the perfect crust-to-blueberry ratio with some chilly vanilla ice cream.

4 cups fresh blueberries 
1 T lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (8 T) room-temperature butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ cups oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spread blueberries evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar.

In a large bowl, use a fork (or your hands) to mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter, and oatmeal until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the blueberries.

Bake about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

*Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Red Quinoa Salad

 This recipe by far is one of my favorite quinoa recipes. I could literally eat this dish everyday; it is just that good! Perfect for a hot summers day.

2 and 1/2 cups red quinoa, cooked and chilled
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 avocado, sliced and diced
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small onions, thinly diced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 cup homemade lemon vinaigrette

For Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leave

Recipe from Tastefully Julie 

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

Last week, I whipped up these Shirley Temple Cupcakes for a Baby Shower! They are super simple, light and fluffy with a cherry flavored icing topped with a maraschino cherry! Simply delicious! 

For the cupcakes:

1 box white cake mix 
1 cup lemon-lime pop (I used Faygo)
3 eggs 
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcakes liners. Combine cake mix, pop, eggs, oil and cherry juice into mixing bowl. Mix on medium until well combined. Fill cupcake liners between 1/2 and 2/3 full. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the frosting: 

2 sticks butter, softened 
5 cups powdered sugar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice 

Buttercream frosting recipe from A Bitchin' Kitchen

1. Cream butter 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, extracts, lemon juice, and cherry juice. Mix on low until combined. Pipe onto cupcakes. 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Lobster Bisque

I have recently become a New Englander. Since I was raised in the Southern Belle mindset, I must admit that I feel like a bit of a foreigner. Fortunately, I’ve brought with me a healthy love for seafood, which seems to fit in just fine. This week, I conquered a rich and creamy New England favorite: lobster bisque.

2 T olive oil 
2 T shallots, minced
2 T green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
¼ cup white wine
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup seafood stock
4 oz tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cups heavy cream
4 T butter
½ lb lobster meat, cut into chunks

In a large pot, sauté shallots, garlic, and onions in oil over medium-high heat for approximately 1 minute. Stir in thyme, paprika, and salt, then deglaze with the white wine. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and vanilla, stirring well with each addition. Add seafood stock, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in cream and butter and bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add lobster meat and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with bread for dipping.

*Adapted from

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Trifle

In honor of a week filled with all things red, white, and blue, try this Patriotic Trifle that is sure to be the hit of any potluck!

1 small package strawberry Jell-O 
1 small package berry blue Jell-O
2 cups boiling water, divided
1 cup cold water, divided
2 small packages vanilla instant pudding
2 cups cold milk
1 small carton Cool Whip
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
1 prepared angel food cake or pound cake, cut into 1”-cubes

In two small bowls, prepare each Jell-O flavor with 1 cup of boiling water; stir in ½ cup of cold water. Pour each flavor into a square pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set.

In a large bowl, mix pudding mixes with milk for 2 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes, until soft-set. Fold in 2 cups of Cool Whip.

Set aside ¼ cup blueberries and strawberries for garnish. Cut each Jell-O pan into 1”-cubes. In a large trifle bowl or other serving dish, layer as follows: strawberry Jell-O cubes, half of the cake cubes, blueberries, half of the pudding mixture, blue Jell-O, remaining cake cubes, strawberries, remaining pudding mixture. Garnish with remaining Cool Whip, strawberries, and blueberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Recipe from Taste of Home