Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Growing up Sunday dinner was a big deal. It wasn't until I was in college that I realized that not every family had a huge Sunday dinner with all of their family. My mom and gram would start cooking in the morning, and continue after church. Then my extended family would come over and we would feast together. It was loud and it was delicious. We fought, we laughed, we cried, and we ate! Sunday's are my favorite. They are a day of rest and most of all family.

Now I live too far from my family to have a proper Sunday dinner, but I still try to do it up. Even if it's just for me and my husband. My mom and gram did a good job of including me and teaching me how to cook. I loved being in the kitchen with them. Once I was older, I took over and did a lot of the cooking myself. I remember the first few months after I was married, I always made way too much food for just the 2 of us. It was because all of the recipes I knew by heart were for at least 8 people. Now, I have learned to modify them and I'm a little better at portions. I still slip up a lot. I hate wasting food. Sometimes, I have to get creative with leftovers (which might be a good topic for a post someday).

This past Sunday I went all out. I was very excited about trying a recipe from my newest cookbook, Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini. It's amazing. I told my husband that this book will change our lives. It's filled with a ton of fabulous dishes. For this meal I started with a leafy lettuce with his roasted garlic dressing, followed by homemade rigatoni using his pasta dough recipe tossed in a spicy shrimp sauce (modified from his recipe for a spicy clam sauce with linguine), and finished with raspberry involtini cookies from his book. Of course, what's a good pasta dinner without bread? I found a nice fresh crusty italian loaf from Whole Foods. The meal was indulgent and awesome. We opened a bottle of local red wine, and dined like kings. I had a fun time cooking the meal, and an even better time sharing the feast with my guy! It was a good night!

For my compost pile. 
Homemade pasta is a good arm workout.

Involtini cookies. Yum!

I knitted this wash cloth earlier that morning. 

Garlic sliced Good Fellas thin. 

Nothing beats fresh pasta.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hi, from my Hyacinth

I was welcomed home from the holiday vacation by a lovely little purple surprise. My Hyacinth started to bloom. Yes, I know it's January, but apparently my flower thinks it's March. The bulb began to sprout early this year, so I brought it inside to protect it from the cold winter temperatures. It smells amazing and reminds me of spring.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Treat Packaging

Check out my holiday treat packages. I hope my friends enjoy. They are filled with my brownie-mallows and biscotti.

Homemade Pizza Dinner-yes!

Nothing beats a quick and delicious meal after a hard days work. I admit, I cheat on the dough and use pre-made from the grocer. I've made my own dough before, but that is definitely a weekend meal. What is better than cheesy pizza with a crunch fresh salad? Get creative. Try it out.

1 Tomato
Fresh Basil (I used my own homegrown)
Olive Oil
Smoked Mozzarella
Goat Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes

Roll out the dough into the shape you desire (I do a circle-classic). Slather with Olive Oil. Sprinkle with salt and Parmigiano. Layer with Tomato slices and Smoked Mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with a little more Olive Oil. Then bake until bubbly. Right after you take out of the oven, cover with Basil, Red Pepper Flakes and Goat Cheese. Enjoy :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brownie-mallows: The perfect Holiday Treat

Uh, yum.

I spent a good part of the day baking holiday treats that I plan to give as gifts. They turned out great, and are so fun and cute. They are a frankenstein of 2 recipes and my own ideas. I call them brownie-mallows. Basically they are a form of a mini-cupcake with a brownie bottom and are topped with a cinnamon marshmallow fluff, then finished off with a sprinkle of homegrown lavender. It's a two-bite indulgence. The recipe is below.

Classic Chocolate Brownies:

(adapted from Ghiradelli)
  • 1/2 cup(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 4 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar
  • 1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup(s) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup(s) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon(s) salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prep a mini muffin tin with mini muffin baking cup papers. Chop the 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate bars into 1-inch pieces. In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, melt the 4 chopped chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and mix well. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 12-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. 

(adapted from Food Network)


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon during the last minute of whipping. 

I did have to take a frisbee break in the middle of the baking marathon. 

1 tablespoon finely chopped lavender
Once the brownies are cooled, top them with the marshmallow fluff. (note: this recipe is all about timing. you don't have much time to work with the mallows once they are whipped, so be sure to have the brownies ready to go before you start the mallows.) Finally, sprinkle with the lavender. Let the little babies sit for at least 4 hours so that the mallow mixture can set up. 

That's One Big Christmas Tree

Where I am from, you don't go to a pre-cut Christmas tree lot to get a Christmas tree. You go out into the woods and hunt for the perfect one. This year, my parents went a little crazy and a got a tree that was over 12 ft. They needed a backhoe to get it into the house. My sister sent me pics, but I can't wait to see it in person when I got back to visit for the holidays.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dinner For One

Even when I am home alone, I love to cook dinner. I admit, I tend to go overboard. Like tonight. I decided to cook a big dinner... just for myself. When the hubby is away the chef still plays–right? I made garlic bread, penne with a spicy meat sauce, and a salad. Simple recipes that I learned from my mom and have been cooking my whole life. It was fun and yum.


Recipe is as follows:

Red Meat Sauce with Penne:

1lb of Ground Beef
1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
Lots of Garlic- crushed and diced (I used at least 6 cloves)
A few Fresh Basil Leaves (homegrown works best)
Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper (I used at least 2 Tbsp)
Salt and Pepper
1 small piece of Parmigiano Cheese Rind
1 Bay Leaf

1lb of Penne Rigate
- I start by heating the olive oil and warming up the garlic. Then brown the meat. Add the dry spices. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and cheese rind. Then let it simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. Cook the penne per directions on the pasta. Mix past into sauce. Add fresh basil. Simple!

Garlic Bread:
1 loaf Ciabbata
Olive Oil
Crushed Garlic (lots)
-Slice the bread and rub it down with olive oil, garlic and basil. Wrap in foil and toast in the oven. Done!

I'm not a measurer, I eyeball everything and I'm always sure to taste test the whole way through.