Monday, September 30, 2013

Tortellini Salad

Remember my mega-stack of random recipe cards?
It hasn't gotten any smaller.
Like, are they pretending to be bunnies when I go to bed at night or something?

That's OK, that just means new adventures for you and I!


1 (7 oz) package cheese tortellini

1 Cup broccoli florets

1/2 Cup chopped fresh parsley

1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichokes (drained)

2 Green onions, chopped

1/2 Cup Italian salad dressing

2 1/2 Tsp chopped fresh basil
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
6 Cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain. Rinse and drain again.
2. Combine tortellini with broccoli, parsley, artichokes, and green onions in a large bowl
3. Pour salad dressing over tortellini mixture
4. Sprinkle with basil and toss gently
5. Cover and chill until ready to serve
6. Toss salad again just before serving. Sprinkle with parmesan and top with tomatoes.


Ingredients: I had some homemade Italian dressing, so I used that instead of store bought

Even the pickiest people enjoyed this!

This recipe was shared on This Gal Cooks, Make Ahead Meals, Uncommon Designs, Chef in Training, Mandy's Recipe Box, and Flour me with Love

Friday, September 27, 2013

Garden Salad Pizza

Diane Mott Davidson has a series of books that involve a crime solving caterer.

How odd, yet wonderfully fantastic. She includes (in the books) all the recipes that the caterer makes. This is one of them.

I am not sure what book it's from, or what web site I took this recipe from. So, no direct credit can be given, but I am sure with some digging you could find the answer.
Anyone out there have it for me?

This was made as a quick weeknight meal, but would be fantastic in the summer. It can be made the night before and kept in the fridge. Make multiple batches for parties!

6 Rhodes Texas white rolls, thawed until warm and bubbly
1/2 lb chive flavored cream cheese, room temperature
1 Cucumber, thinly sliced
2 Cups cherry tomato, halved
1/4 Cups black olives, sliced
1 Green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup parsley, chopped
1 Tsp basil


1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Knead rolls into a ball. Roll dough into a 13 inch circle and place on a 12 inch pizza pan

3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned

4. Keep bubbles from forming in the middle of the pizza by pressing down 5 minutes into the baking cycle.
5. Remove from oven and cool
6. Spread crust with cream cheese
7. Arrange vegetables and top with onion rings
8. Sprinkle with basil, parsley, and salt/pepper to taste

The leftovers were awesome for lunch the next day!

This recipe was shared on Blissful and Domestic , WIll Cook for Smiles, Your Home Based Mom, and Mom's Test Kitchen

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wellsley Farms Cheese Tray

I needed to make a cheese tray super immediately!
We stopped at BJ's and ran down to the deli section looking for blocks of cheese.
This is what we found.

I am in love, and will be buying this again just to have in the house!
It's a nice selection of 4 different cheeses, all set and ready to be put on a cracker.

All we had to do was peel back the plastic, there was a handy tray underneath!

As much as I enjoy hand-making as much as possible, sometimes it isn't a possibility.
With convenience comes cost though. Sometimes that is OK, but I hate WAY overpaying just because someone else sliced it for me.

This fantastic tray was under $10.00. Serious?! OK! Sold!

Monday, September 23, 2013

New York Cheesecake

I am a self proclaimed cheesecake junkie.
Sorry to say (sorry for me at least) darling daughter inherited my love for the creamy goodness.

We love, love, love the cheesecake samplers from BJ's...any excuse for it, we take it.

Funny enough, I have been to the Cheesecake Factory multiple times now and have yet to have a piece. Maybe it has something to do with their 900 page menu, I am too full before my food even comes!

I had gotten graham cracker crumbs for another recipe and this one was on the back of the box. As I am all about trying every recipe that comes my way (research, you know.) I decided to make it.

My parents came up to visit and were headed to my house. We ran home so I could get this made and ready to serve if the mood so hit them.

Have you ever tried "Brownie Brittle"? We just tried our first bag (OMG YUM). At the end of it all, there were tons of crumbs at the bottom of the bag. I saved them and put them on top of this cheesecake as garnish. I highly suggest it!

2 Cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 Cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Eggs
1 Cup sour cream


1. In small bowl, toss together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 2 Tbsp sugar.

2. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch springform pan.

3. Chill crust in freezer while preparing filling

4. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy.

5. Add 1 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.

6. Beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined.
7. Stir in sour cream.
8. Pour into crust. Bake at 325 for 1 1/4 hours or until center is almost set.
9. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes.
10. Loosen sides of pan, continue cooling for 45 more minutes.
11. Store in refrigerator.


Creamy, dreamy, topped with crumbs from the bottom of a "Brownie Brittle" bag

This recipe was shared on This Gal Cooks , Mandy's Recipe Box, Chef-In-Training, Sugar and Dots, The Lady Behind the Curtain, and Jam Hands

Friday, September 20, 2013

Garlic Triscuits

We have an unhealthy obsession with garlic in my house.
Luckily most of our friends and family feel the same way, so we all smell like garlic all the time.

To the poor random public people we encounter, I apologize.

When Triscuit started coming out in flavors, it was exciting.
When they introduced the garlic ones, we had a party. Yes, yes we did.

We eat them plain, with cheese, oh...and soooo good with a port wine cheese spread.

Buy them. Eat them. Love them.

All opinions are mine, just sharing the love!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken

The building where I work seems to be under constant construction. During this hull-a-baloo we are frequently getting emails about the need to test the fire alarm. It's loud.

Today, as we are sitting there working, the alarm went off.
I would like to add, I have one of these ear splitting, strobe light flashing, monsters on the wall RIGHT behind my head!
Have I mentioned they are loud?
No missing these babies!

We all sort of sat there for a minute as we were so used to such annoyances. Then it dawned on us all at the same time "Oh, there was no email warning of this. Uh-oh".
Out the door we all went like cattle. Moo.

The smell was overpowering! Something had caught fire in one of the dumpsters. Some people blame smokers, others blame construction...doesn't matter.
I did not witness anything but stench and smoke, but others said the flames were pretty impressive.

Thanks to the fire department for doing your thing, we appreciate it!

Dinner anyone? This smells much, much better than a burning dumpster!
(imagine that description on a menu!)

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ Cup chicken broth
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 ½ Tsp honey


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper

2. Melt butter over medium/high heat. Add oil.

3. Add the chicken to the pan
4. Cook the chicken until cooked through (about 7 minutes each side). Remove, set aside.
5. Add the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and honey to the pan.
6. Cook for about 5 minutes, the sauce will thicken
7. Slice chicken and spoon sauce over the top


This should be served with mashed potato or rice to soak up the juices!

Adapted from: Baked Bree
This recipe shared with Sugar and Dots , Blissful and Domestic, Your Home Based Mom, and Lady Behind the Curtain

Monday, September 16, 2013


I never gave pasta or noodles much thought, they have just always been there!
Fresh or boxed, frozen or pre-packaged "fresh", we all have our preference.

I came across some neat facts about pasta and noodles and thought I would share.
We could all use a little enlightening.

  • Pasta comes in many different colors and over 600 shapes
  • Most pasta is cream colored, but some is colored using vegetables. Spinach for green, tomato for red, etc.
  • There is a type of pasta called "cellophane" because it turns clear when cooked
  • The average person in Italy eats 51 lbs of pasta a year! The average person in North America eats about 15.5 lbs of pasta a year.
  • The difference between pasta and noodles? Noodles contain eggs, pasta does not!
How to make the perfect pot of pasta:
1. Fill a large stockpot with water.
2. Add salt
3. Bring the water to a roiling boil
4. Measure the pasta you need (pasta usually doubles in size when cooked, so 1 cup=2 cups cooked)
5. Slowly add the pasta to the boiling water
6. Stir to separate and keep it from sticking
7. Start timing when the water returns to a boil
8. Most pastas cook in 8-12 minutes, make sure to read package directions.
9. Taste the pasta to see if it's done. It should be "al dente"- firm, yet tender
10. Drain the pasta into a colander.
11. Only rinse if you are using the pasta in a cold dish. Rinsing removes the starch, which holds the sauce when served hot.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Bacon + Onion+ Cheddar in a biscuit...SOLD!

Not for a meal, not for a side, just on a whim I whipped these up one Sunday afternoon. As hubby and I were chopping away, we were trying to decide what they would actually go with.

They have such a strong flavor, they stand well on their own and might overpower a piece of your meal.
We decided these would be perfect for a brunch.
That way people are picking and choosing and actually looking for a plethora of flavors.

So, here you go, adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, some yummy brunch biscuits!

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tsp baking powder
¾ Tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, cubed and chilled
10 Tbsp milk
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Egg
10 slices thick cut bacon
1 Cup finely diced onion
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Grease a standard muffin pan and set aside
3. Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.
4. Pour off grease, reserving about 1 Tbsp
5. Cook onions in reserved bacon grease until soft and browned
6. Remove from pan to cool
7. Chop the cooled bacon and set aside
8. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
9. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until combined and the mixture is crumbly
10. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and egg
11. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until mostly moistened
12. Add bacon, onions, and cheddar cheese. Gently mix together until combined.
13. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans
14. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown


I forgot the dang bacon! Then again, it just wouldn't be my blog if I remembered everything all the time!

Serve warm...they just melt in your mouth!

This recipe also shared at Blissful and Domestic, The Country Cook, and Pint Sized Baker

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Potato Au Gratin

I know, I am HORRIBLE about not having exact amounts when it's a recipe that belongs to me.I learned to cook with "a little bit of this and a little bit of that". Just be patient and try!

Unlike most au gratin recipes, I cook my potato prior to baking. I am not sure if this stemmed from scrambling to make dinner after a long day at work, or just out of sheer laziness...but either way, it cuts way down on the baking time.

I leave the skin on my potato, but that is personal preference. I also season with salt and pepper as the potato is cooking.

4 or 5 Potatoes, sliced
Half and half
1 Onion, sliced
Assorted cheeses
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper

1. Cook sliced potato and onion in a skillet with butter until just about cooked thru
2. In the meantime, make a roux in a separate pot
3. Add cream to make a bechamel.Slowly add the cream until you have the amount you would like. More sauce= creamier potato
4. Add cheese to make a mornay sauce.
5. Flavor sauce to taste
6. Put cooked potato in a baking dish. Top with mornay sauce
7. Sprinkle paprika on the top
8. Bake until brown and bubbly




Cooking the 'taters

Bubbly, brown, and creamy!

This recipe was shared at this party

Monday, September 9, 2013


My parents have never even heard of Manwich as far as I am concerned.
They despised anything that came from a box, or a can, or a package. Fresh is best! (not that I disagree).

One summer, a new girl moved into our neighborhood. She was my age, and would be starting in my grade, at my school come fall.
Needless to say, we became friends, as kids typically do.

She had her birthday party, and a bunch of us were invited.
We all sat around the dining room table, and her parents served us dinner.
I looked at my plate...with some sort of grossed out look on my face (as I was later told); but, my parents raised me to be polite as a guest, so I knew I was eating this mess on my plate.

One bite later and I swear my eyes actually sparkled like in a cartoon. I probably had little hearts and stars too!!
I actually ate a second sandwich!
Oh the yumminess!

Back to reality, my parents did not like such a food, and out of my mind it went.

Fast forward to married life. One day hubby dearest looks at me in the grocery store and says "do you mind grabbing some Manwich, I have such a craving"

Manwich...remind me again....oh yeah!

So, many married years later, we still have Manwich every now and again.
It's just a fun, kid (and adult) friendly food!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese

I will apologize in advance for this recipe.
I get asked for it, so I am including it...but it's one of those things I have always just eyeballed and never had a set recipe.
A lot of it depends on what kind of cheeses I have on hand.
I like to use a minimum of 3 kinds.

Sometimes I like to be basic with cheddar and American
Gruyere is yummy added to this, as is Jarlsberg.
The combinations are endless. It's all in what flavors your family enjoy.

1 box pasta (your choice)
Half and Half
Assorted cheeses
Dry Mustard
Worcestershire sauce

1. Cook pasta
2. Make a roux using the butter and flour
3. Add half and half slowly, stirring frequently until you have the right amount of liquid (bechamel)
4. Add a heavy dash of the dry mustard and Worc sauce. Add some pepper.
5. Slowly add in cheeses until well melted (Mornay)
6. Drain and add pasta to cheese mixture
7. Stir and serve

If baking the pasta, add a mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan to the top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good Seasons Italian Dressing

I remember my mother making this frequently when I was a kid.
(I used to be tempted to drink it)

It was a special treat, something other than your typical bottled dressings. Both of my parents worked, so very much like myself, weeknight dinners tended to be quicker, easier meals. Bottled dressings fit into this category.

As the years passed, I sort of forgot about it.
Not sure why, I just went on with my life and didn't think about it.

A friend of mine makes a great green salad.
I know, it's so simple anyone should be able to make a great one, but it's just something about it, I like hers best.
Guess what she dresses it with?

Now that I had such a delicious reminder, I ran right out and bought the "starter kit" that included the shaker bottle.

I love, love, love having fresh Italian dressing anytime I want it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day 2013

Happy Labor Day to all!
Most people have today off work to celebrate the strife of historical workers.
To those of you who do have to work, we appreciate your time and effort! Especially all those workers who run the businesses we frequent on a day off. Restaurants. Shopping. Etc.

Today I brushed my teeth. That is about as much effort as I am putting in to it.
Hubby, the girl, and I decided we needed a truly lazy day.
We have some movies we got for Christmas that have not even come out of the plastic wrap, those are big on our list!

Yesterday, we went to the yearly Labor Day cookout at Hubby's aunt and uncle's house. This has been a family tradition since well before I was in the picture.

It was a good sized crew of us: Aunt and Uncle, their 2 grown kids (with spouses) and the 2 grand kids. Hubby's mom and another aunt. A cousin. His 2 sisters, 1 niece, and 1 brother in law.
Some of (host) aunt's daughter-in-law's family as well (did I confuse anyone?).

It was a freaking rainy, gray, thundery, BLAH day.
We all got soaked just trying to get to said cook out. :::sigh:::

Not too long after everyone arrived, the sun started peeking!
The grass was too wet still for our annual croquet tournament or any full contact badminton...but the driveway dried up enough that the littles could go outside and blow off some steam.

The girl child and a couple of the men folk had a cut throat game of H-O-R-S-E going on.

Due to the rain earlier, the mosquitoes were out in full force and the air was oppressively muggy.
But we got to be outside...yay!

As we do every year, there was more food than we could possibly eat.
I brought along with us

Deviled Eggs
Baked Potato Salad
Dirty Salsa
Cookie Dough Dip

I hope everyone celebrated Labor Day in your own, special way!