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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cookies!

Well, this month has been a happy blur.  Anytime we are all under the same roof is a happy time!

Despite their somber expressions in this photo, Gus and Clyde have also enjoyed having the kids home for the holidays.

We also filmed another episode of the cooking show.  It was cookie-themed, but not necessarily Christmas-themed, because by the time it finishes airing it will be past the holiday season...and we didn't want to be pushing Christmas in January!

So we baked a bunch of cookies that were Christmas-festive, yet plain enough that they can be enjoyed year-round!


Click here to be taken to the blogpost with the step-by-step instructions.

And before you begin to think that maybe I got the gift of mad photography skills for Christmas, I need to confess that the pretty photo above was taken by my daughter, Caitie.

Now that I've hooked you with a pretty photo, I'm going to pull the old bait & switch.  Continue on for the usual lackluster photos.


Most definitely my go-to cookie recipe.  Switch out the red & green sugar for ocean hues in the summer, add in some funfetti, or just bake 'em plain.  Click on the above link for step-by-step instructions or use the printable.


My personal favorite!  Sea salt & caramel is a match made in heaven, and I simply won't make these unless I can bring them somewhere...because if I keep them here I will eat every last one of them!  Printable Recipe

Hope you are enjoying this final day of 2014.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese


I made this lobster mac & cheese on my last cooking show.  The theme of the show was cooking new dishes/developing recipes, and this recipe fit in with the theme because I had never tried to make lobster mac & cheese before.

And the reason why I chose this specific dish?  My friend, Trish, was cooking with me and I knew that lobster mac & cheese was one of her favorite foods.  

I didn't come up with this recipe on my own; my brother is a really good cook and he has a lobster recipe for everything so I simply asked him how to prepare lobster mac & cheese.  I only tweaked his recipe a little, using less black pepper (actually, I didn't use any, only white pepper) and adding a bit of milk to thin down the cheese sauce.  

I wish I had thought to record all of the comments that my friends made when we sat down to eat after we had finished taping.  I definitely remember one of them saying, "I just want to sit here and eat this for the rest of my life," and another one saying, "This tastes like something I would order at the best restaurant I ever went to."

If you make this recipe, I hope you like it as much as my lobster-loving friends do!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cooking Show--Trying Out New Recipes!!

Warning!  Long, rambling post right here!  But if you work your way through to the end, there will be recipes for Lemon Drop Martinis, Caesar Salad Dressing, Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, and Churros Poppers!

I promise that all of these recipes will eventually be posted with the usual step-by-step photos!  However, I have been receiving a lot of emails from viewers of the cooking show who would like to have the recipes that I prepared on the last show.  Please be warned that I'm still developing some of these recipes, and my notes will reflect some tweaks that I'm planning for the next time I prepare them!

We filmed another cooking show a couple of weeks ago.

The best way I can describe the theme would be "Attempting to prepare or develop recipes that I've never made before."

We happened upon this theme in a roundabout way.  I went out to dinner with my friend, Trish.  She ordered the house donuts for dessert, and our conversation went something like this:

Trish: Can you cook donuts?
Me: I never have, but I guess I could.  I don't deep-fry anything...it's one thing to eat them when you go somewhere and they're already prepared, but to pour all that oil into a deep-fryer...yikes.  I may as well just get a syringe and inject it directly into my thighs.
Trish: Do you have a deep fryer?
Me: Yes, I've never used it, it's sitting in my basement, unopened.
Trish: You should do a deep-frying cooking show!
Me: Only if you'll cook with me!

During the past year, I've asked her a couple of times if she would cook with me on the show, and she always said no.  I'm guessing that on this particular night, her defenses were lowered by the lemon-drop martinis that we had with dinner.  Lower defenses + joy at the thought of more deep-fried donuts in her future = YES!  If only I had figured out sooner that plying her with donuts was the key to getting her on camera.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Every time I use my crockpot, I can't help but wonder why don't I use this more often?

Is there anything better than doing a little bit of prep work in the morning, throwing it all into the slow cooker and having it ready at dinner time?

This recipe is a bit of a riff on the Maple-Mustard Pork Chops that I've made in the past.  I like the combo of sweet maple syrup and the savoriness of dijon mustard, and I couldn't help but wonder how it would work with a pot roast.

I'm happy to say that it worked out just fine!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

White Lasagna (with Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach and Rosemary)

Last month, I had to pick my daughter up from school because she had a doctor's appointment the next day.  She's an ice cream fiend, so I had some ice cream from her favorite local ice cream shop in our freezer.

It was almost midnight by the time we got home.  She was hungry and I told her that I had some of her favorite ice cream in the freezer.

She opted to have leftover white lasagna instead.

It really is that good!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Cooking Show! Beef Stew, Pumpkin Dip, Apple Cider Cocktails, Apple-Pumpkin Dog Treats

We filmed another episode of the cooking show last week!


Our theme was Fall, so I prepared a few recipes heavy on apples & pumpkin.

And I made Beef Stew, which always reminds me of fall because that's when I add it back into my cooking rotation!


A nice, warm bowl of stew is perfect for those chilly fall days.




Serve them chilled or warm.

Dan the Awesome Camera Man chose the warm cider and declared (in his lovely Irish brogue), "It warms the cockles of my heart!"  



Serve it with graham crackers, gingersnaps, cinnamon pita chips or apple slices for dipping.

And last but not least, Apple-Pumpkin Dog Treats, because dogs also like fall-themed food!


Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Caprese Puff Pastry Tart

I've been experimenting with puff pastry quite a bit recently.

And I'm always experimenting with anything Caprese, which always seems to be a hit in my house.     

Typical afternoon conversation:

Caitie~have you thought about dinner?
Me~I'm thinking fresh mozza-
Caitie~YES!!

I don't even have to finish my sentence, she knows where I'm heading before I even say it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple Cider Cocktails with Caramel Vodka (Warm or Cold!)

In keeping with the glut of caramel recipes which I've posted recently, here's one more!



Did you know that you can buy caramel vodka?  I should have known; I mean, take a walk down the vodka aisle (really! there are so many flavors of vodka that they have their own aisle at one of the local liquor stores!), and there are so many crazy flavors it's overwhelming.  Caramel is a relatively normal flavor, don't you think?  At least it seems normal to me when compared to PB & J, Smoked Salmon or Bacon-(yes, bacon!)-flavored vodkas.

Of course I had to buy the caramel vodka.  

I'm glad it's autumn, because it's the perfect season for me to discover the existence of caramel vodka.  I'm not sure what I would have mixed it with during other seasons, but now, in October, the cider in my fridge was just screaming,  "Pick me!  Pick me!"  

For taste-testing purposes, we prepared these cocktails both hot and cold.  Which means that Mr. Terrific, Caitie and I had to drink each type, for comparison's sake.  It was tough, but someone had to do it!

The verdict? Two preferred warm, one of us preferred cold.  I won't say who picked what, I'll just tell you that it's hard for me to discard my belief that everything tastes better with a stripey straw in it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Frozen Peach Daiquiris

I'm totally in denial about summer's end.  Last week's 85-degree heatwave may have been summer's last gasp, but it gave me the perfect excuse to whip up a batch of daiquiris.

You can substitute any fruit you like.  Strawberries or mangoes also work well.  Use frozen fruit, because it's a frozen drink! But if you prefer to use fresh fruit, freeze the fruit ahead of time and you'll be good to go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls

All of my kids are huge, okay not huge (poor wording choice), enthusiastic fans of cinnamon rolls. They will happily eat cinnamon rolls of any kind, whether they are homemade or the type that you buy in the dairy department-you know the ones I am talking about, the kind that are in a can.  

These puff pastry cinnamon rolls are a sort of compromise;  the puff pastry is light and flaky so they aren't ooey and gooey like traditional cinnamon rolls, but they sure are quick and easy to prepare.

For me, the hardest part about making these cinnamon rolls is remembering to take the puff pastry out of my freezer so it can defrost!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cooking Show: Tailgating, Part II !

We filmed another cooking show last week.  Maureen joined me, and we came up with a few more recipes to add to her tailgating repertoire.  

When we filmed our last tailgating show, we focused on more traditional recipes like chili and wings.


This time around, we focused on recipes that are easy to prepare in advance as well as transport easily.  And since Maureen draws dozens of fans (they may say that they are football fans but I'm betting that they show up week after week because they are even bigger fans of Maureen's cooking), we wanted to prepare foods that can also be made in huge batches to feed a crowd.

(Click on the following titles to be taken to the recipes.)



We started with this and by the time we finished our cooking we were lucky there was any left to photograph!



I think it took me longer to wash and cut up the celery sticks for dipping than it did to throw the dip together.



Oh, my, this is one of my favorite salads ever.  It will be perfect for tailgating because Maureen can prep all of the ingredients in advance, pack each ingredient in its own container and let her tailgaters create their own salads.  And douse it with the yummy balsamic vinaigrette.


We proceeded to top it with vanilla bean ice cream, but for ease of travel Maureen can use whipped cream.

Whether you tailgate or not, I hope you give these recipes a try.  Happy Cooking!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Apple-Bacon-Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I think this is the most perfect salad ever.  

I'll give you five ingredients why.  In no particular order:

1. Balsamic vinaigrette.  My most favorite dressing ever.
2. Grilled chicken.  Turns a salad into a meal.
3. Apple.  Love the sweet crunch it adds.
4. Toasted almonds. Love the nutty crunch it adds.
5. Bacon.  Because it's bacon.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Apple Crisp with Sea Salt Caramel

Now that we're more than halfway through September, I'm finally accepting the end of summer.

I won't say that I'm happy about summer ending, but now I'm looking forward to apple-picking season!

Also known as fall.

I baked my first apple crisp of the season this week.  Since I'm still in the mood to smother everything I make in salted caramel, I decided it would be a good idea to coat the apples in sea salt caramel instead of cinnamon and sugar.

It did not disappoint!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sparkling Rose and Limoncello Sangria


I realize that summer is coming to an end, but I just had to come up with one last fruity drink recipe.

It has wine and fruit, it must be sangria.  You know how I love sangria.

I added some Limoncello and it became my favorite sangria ever.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cooking Show- Lasagna Bolognese, Roasted Asparagus, Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad & White Chocolate Mousse

We filmed another episode of the cooking show.  Nick Iandolo from Nick's Sci-Fi Corner cooked with me, and since we both share Italian heritage, we prepared a main dish to pay tribute to our roots!

Lasagna Bolognese with Bechemel .  Click on the link to be taken to the recipe.

Ooey, gooey, cheesy, meaty, yummy.

We prepared roasted asparagus to go alongside the lasagna.  I don't have a link to the recipe, it is so simple, all you need to do is:

-Wash and trim 2 lbs. of asparagus.
-Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil (a tablespoon or two).  Season with salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each).
-Roast for 10 to 12 minutes at 425 degrees.

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

Again, no link for this because it was a last-minute addition to the show.  I was shopping at the farmers market before the taping, and the heirloom tomatoes looked so amazing that I just had to figure out a way to get them onto the show.

So we sliced up a few tomatoes, added some slices of fresh mozzarella, drizzled it with a quick balsamic vinaigrette (whisk to combine 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard), and topped it with some fresh shredded basil.

And finally, we finished with White Chocolate Mousse, which we topped with fresh blueberries and golden raspberries.

These pictures just don't do justice to this perfect dessert!  How can you not love making a dessert that only has two ingredients?

I chose the asparagus, Caprese salad and mousse for this show because they are so quick and easy to prepare.


Unlike the lasagna, which needs to take its own sweet time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chunky Guacamole

 I clearly remember a conversation that Mr. Terrific and I had exactly 10 years ago this month, on a beautiful September Saturday, regarding our three kids and their sports schedules.

 At the end of the day, after traveling to five different towns for three soccer games and two hockey games, he dropped onto the couch and I remember saying, "Someday it's not going to be like this, and we are going to wish we could turn back time!"

That someday is here.  Last week was really weird for me.  For the first time in 20 years, I did not have to deal with back to school.

No getting into the early-morning routine, or having to make sure the refrigerator is stocked with favorite lunch foods;  no packing lunches, or keeping track of after-school sports.

I really don't like this new phase.  

A couple of days before my kids left,  I was checking my Facebook newsfeed and a friend of mine posted a status that was something like, "Woo-hoo!  I have an empty nest, who's ready for a girls' night?!!"

As I stared at her status, all I could think of was how do I get myself into that frame of mind?

At the end of the week, my sweet neighbors from 3 houses down brought me this gorgeous bunch of Gerbera daisies to celebrate this new phase.  Thank heavens for beautiful flowers and awesome neighbors.

And thank heavens for friends like Gayle, who called me just as I was putting the finishing touches on this chunky guacamole.  She was the perfect person to share it with.  Gayle won't have her own empty nest until next year, but her oldest daughter had just left to go back to school so we still had plenty to commiserate about!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel


I'm just not ready for summer to end!

I'm not ready for my kids to be back at school.  It frees up a bit of my time, but what good is having extra time if they're not around to spend it with?

I guess I'll spend some of that extra time cooking.  Lasagna, for example.  I don't typically spend 2 1/2 hours cooking dinner (who does?), but when I do, this lasagna makes it worth my while!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Treats Cooking Show!

The theme of our recently filmed cooking show was "Summer Treats."

Dan, the awesome camera man, was practically giddy when I opened my front door.  "I hear we're having ice cream!" he exclaimed in his lovely, lilting Irish brogue.

And then our producer, Donna, arrived and it became obvious to me that the promise of ice cream puts everyone in a very happy place.

It was like we were on a sugar high before we even made it into the kitchen.

As Dan predicted, we started with Lemon Ice Cream.  Which we then combined with Lemon Cookies and made ice cream sandwiches.

While the ice cream was churning, we made Strawberry Agua Fresca.  


And we baked a Berry Cobbler, which paired up nicely with the lemon ice cream!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lobster Phyllo Cups

If only I could just get through a blogpost without having a recipe-name dilemma.

Lobster Bites.  Sounds too painful.

Lobster Tid-Bits.  Huh?

Lobster Appetizers.  Generic, much?

I settled on Lobster Phyllo Cups.  Eh...but at least it's straightforward.

If I didn't use these phyllo cups, I would have served this cheesy concoction with pita chips or water crackers and simply called it Lobster Dip and avoided the whole what-should-I call-this-recipe dilemma.

Holy cow, I just looked at the picture I posted above and noticed that the box says FILLO shells!!! What kind of cockamamie spelling is that?

I am not going to change my recipe name.  I am not going to change it.


And I'm not going to waste any more of your time throwing a recipe-naming tantrum, not when you could be spending your time filling these phyllo/filo/fillo cups with a mixture of yummy, cheesy. lobster!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lemon Cookies + Lemon Ice Cream = Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

I made Lemon Ice Cream last week.  

And I made lemon cookies this week.  The cookies are really light and chewy.  


It wasn't too much of a leap for me to put the two of them together into ice cream sandwiches!

Even if you don't go the ice cream sandwich route, you should give these cookies a try!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Strawberry Agua Fresca

This could have been such a quick and easy post.

Three ingredients!  Plus water.  It takes about ten minutes to make.  I could have written this blog post in record time.

But then it sort of turned into a circular tale.  (If you've ever read the children's book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, you know what I'm talking about.)

It all started when I thought I'd make a pitcher of agua fresca.

Which made me think of Mexico.  Circa 1986.

Which made me wonder if I had taken any pictures of agua fresca during my long-ago Mexican vacations.

Which made me dig out a couple of old photo albums filled with pictures from vacations to Cancun and Acapulco.

No pictures of agua fresca, but there was this picture of my poolside drink served in a watermelon.


Which made me think of the abundance of tropical fruit that my friends and I ate on that trip to Cancun.  Imagine our surprise on our first night there, at dinner, when our waiter placed a hollowed-out pineapple loaded with fruit in front of each of us.  It was simply described as a "fruit cup" on the appetizer menu.

Which made me think of how much fun that trip to Cancun was.  So much fun that I wanted to go back to Mexico for my honeymoon the following year, to Acapulco.

Thinking of Acapulco made me think of the goofy little Mexican teddy bear I won shooting hoops.

Which made me think about how sweaty I was shooting hoops in Mexico on my honeymoon.

Which reminded me that I want to make a pitcher of agua fresca.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Berry Cobbler

It's still berry season in Massachusetts so I'm still going a little crazy with the berries.

My favorite way to enjoy them:  plain, freshly picked, no embellishing necessary.

But there are so many other ways they creep into our menu: mixed into yogurt, floating in a cool glass of water, added to salads, and the desserts--oh, man, the desserts.

This cobbler is the perfect dessert recipe for your berries.  Use any type of berry or combo thereof.  I used...blueberry/blackberry...

Blackberry/boysenberry. Boysenberry/huckleberry. Huckleberry/raspberry. Raspberry/strawberry. Strawberry/cranberry. Peach!

I know, I know, peach is not a berry.  But if you're a Seinfeld fan, the above list is not complete without "Peach!"

Friday, July 4, 2014

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Happy 4th of July!

This card was sent to me by my blogging friend, Pam, of Virginia Retro.  Pam's collection of vintage tablecloths leaves me speechless:

Do you find yourself at a loss for words at the sight of these endless stacks?  What if I told you that every time she showcases one of her tablecloths, she coordinates the table setting to match?  I can't imagine how organized you have to be to have so many different sets of plates, glasses, napkins, candlesticks, serving pieces, silverware....my head is spinning just thinking about cataloging it all!

My head was spinning last week when I made this salted caramel ice cream.  I hadn't made ice cream yet this summer, I had a free afternoon, I decided to get a little fancier than usual.

I debated whether or not I should blog about this ice cream.  Not because it wasn't good.  It was incredible.  Unbelievable.  Really, REALLY good.

But it took an incredible amount of time.  In a nutshell, the ice cream I've made in the past falls into these categories:

1.  Throw all of the ingredients into the ice cream maker, let it mix for 20 to 30 minutes.  Eat it while it's soft, or freeze for later. (Easiest and quickest)

2.  Make an egg-based ice cream, which requires heating the ingredients, tempering eggs, simmering to thicken, refrigerating for a few hours to cool it before it can be mixed in the (frozen) ice cream maker for 20 to 30 minutes, freezing it to firm up. (Easy yet time consuming)

3.  Making an egg-based ice cream (see above), which also requires preparing a recipe in advance for needed ingredients (such as salted caramel) that are part of the ice cream recipe.  (Still easy, yet even more time consuming)

Care to guess which one (1, 2 or 3) this salted caramel ice cream is?

Hint: it wasn't ready to eat until the next day.

If you picked #3, pat yourself on the back.

During the cooking process (particularly when I was stirring the cream into the hot caramel and the caramel suddenly seized), I had many thoughts along the lines of "this better be worth it," "is it really worth all of this trouble?" and "I'm never making this again."

And then when I took the first bite the only thought I had was, "Wow, this was SO worth the time that I put into it!"

I wrote everything down, so that I could duplicate the recipe at some point in the future when I have a free day.  Or two.  One day to make ice cream, one day to recover.

Then I decided that I do need to blog about it, if only to remind myself how time-consuming and frustrating it was to make.

And to remind myself that it was the best ice cream that I've ever made.


I even gave Clyde a spoonful.  He ate it quite enthusiastically.  

I wouldn't read too much into that, however; he also eats ice cubes with the same enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Farmers Market-Inspired Cooking Show!

Last week, we filmed an episode of the cooking show.

All of the recipes we prepared were inspired by our local Farmers Market.

My friend Amy cooked with me.

Gayle and Sheila watched from the sidelines, and provided lots of light moments off-camera.

Like when they discussed the short-shorts that Amy's husband wore in the early 80's.  Or when they pondered hot flashes.


When we went outside to grill the zucchini and summer squash, it started to rain, so Gayle and Sheila bailed on us and ran inside.

But then they provided lots of moral support by telling us that our now-wet hair looked fabulous on the camera monitor.

They were so sincere, I actually believed them.  I just adore my sweet, supportive friends.

While it rained, Amy and I cooked up a storm of our own!  



The aforementioned Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash.

There is no link to take you to a recipe, but it's so simple--here you go:

-Lop off the ends of four 6-inch zucchini/summer squash, and slice them lengthwise.  You should get 4 slices from each, aim for slices at least 1/4" but no more than 1/2" thick.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup EACH of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.

-Add the slices of zucchini and summer squash, and toss to coat.

-Grill on MEDIUM/HIGH, 2-3 minutes each side, just long enough to get great color and grill marks.  The squash should start to soften, yet still hold its shape.

Seared Sea Scallops with Sweet Vermouth