My tender hearted little fella…..

Ryan is now 9 and will be 10 in a couple of months.  I wrote this post in 2010 and I do not know why I didn’t post it.  At any rate, I often find myself thinking about things that my little one said or did a few years ago and I sure miss those days.  Albeit a dated post,  I thought I’d post it anyway.

March, 2010.
Ryan has such a tender heart, he’s incredibly sensitive.  He’s been asking many questions about dying….do you go to heaven?  Do you come back?  We were driving home from the grocery store the other day and he said to me, “Mom, no one in our family is going to die, right?”  Carefully I replied “everyone dies, but not for a long, long time.”  He just had the saddest look on his face and I tried to reassure him that it wouldn’t be until we were very, very old.  He then began to sob saying, “I don’t want anyone in my family to get old..”  He cried the whole way home.  How sweet is that?  Sometimes I can’t believe his capacity to understand such grown up things.

As a 4 1/2 year old, he continues to ask the same questions, repeatedly.  I now tell him what he wants to hear, I can’t bear to see his heart breaking.  His heart is so pure and sweet, he’ll know soon enough the realities of the world.

Oh geeze, I’m feeling sooooo sappy today!

Squeeze your kids, they won’t want to be squeezed so much when they’re older.


Black & Whites…..

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted a recipe and I sure miss it!

Ever had one of these?  It is believed they originated from New York.  The original cookie calls for a thin layer of icing then half vanilla fondant and half chocolate fondant. I am not particularly fond of fondant so I simply ice the cookie with half vanilla and half chocolate icing.  I use my go to sugar cookie cut out recipe.

Icing this cookie takes a little practice.  I recommend making the vanilla icing first, icing half of the cookie, and letting it set up at room temperature, uncovered for at least an hour.  You then add Hershey’s Cocoa to the vanilla icing with a little more milk and ice the other half.  Be careful not to add too much liquid as the icing will ooze off the cookie.  Allow it to set up for 3 or more hours.  Then they’re good to go!  Iced cookies such as these do not freeze well.  If you want to freeze them I suggest freezing them un-iced, then icing them upon thawing.

This cookie recipe is large.  If you’re not up to making 6 dozen cookies, freeze half of the dough.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then into a freezer bag.  Label and date.  Use it within 3 months or so, the sooner the better.  Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before using.

Best Roll Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe  (makes about 6 dozen large round  5″cookies)

2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, one pound at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1) In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy and add one half of the sugar, beat, then add the rest. Add two eggs and beat. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the remaining three eggs and vanilla, beat until nicely incorporated.
2) Lightly measure out flour into a separate mixing bowl. Add baking powder and salt, whisk until blended.
3) Add half of the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture and beat well. Add remaining flour and blend until all ingredients are incorporated.
4) Shape into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then put into a large zip bag. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.  It is easier to roll if you refrigerate it for the lesser amount of time.  If it’s chilled overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes or so to warm up a bit.
5) Preheat your oven to 375’ and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Have cooling racks ready to receive hot cookies.
6) Cut off a chunk and begin working with your hands to make it pliable enough to roll out on a floured surface. Roll to 3/8” to 1/4″ thickness. Cut into large circles and place on prepared sheets, leaving at least 1” of space between cookies. Bake for 10-12  minutes. Cool for five minutes before removing from cookie sheet onto a rack. Cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Icing (this will be enough for half of the recipe, if you bake the entire batch of dough, double the icing recipe)

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk, any kind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1)  Mix well, add more milk to make it spreadable but not so loose that it will run completely off the cookie.  Ice 1/2 of the cookie, starting at the center with an icing spatula and continue to the edge.  Again, this will take some practice.  (They will taste incredible even if the frosting isn’t perfect!) Allow the cookies to sit for an hour or so to set up before you start with the chocolate half.

2)  Add 2 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa to the bowl.  Begin to mix, you may notice that more milk is needed.  Add more milk a teaspoon at a time.  The cocoa will give it an even better texture than the plain vanilla.  Want it more chocolatey?  Add more cocoa, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Carefully ice the other half of the cookie, starting with the seam down the center then going to the outer edges.   Need more icing?  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the bowl, a tablespoon cocoa and add enough milk to stir into a rich consistency again.  It is best to let them sit out overnight to completely set up.  Layer in a plastic container with parchment paper between layers.  Enjoy within 2-3 days if they last that long!


Interesting Variations:

*Ice the whole cookie with chocolate and immediately add chocolate shavings.
*Ice the whole cookie with vanilla icing and immediately add confetti sprinkles.
*Add a little instant coffee to the chocolate icing and ice the whole cookie chocolate & top with chocolate covered coffee beans.
*If you like orange and chocolate add a tablespoon or two of fresh orange zest to the white icing, YUM!




Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls….

I found a version of this recipe in Eating Well Magazine.  They used brown rice and I thought it might be interesting to use quinoa instead.  I changed it around quite a bit.  I really liked the result.

I made a simple tomato sauce that compliments the quinoa mushroom mixture nicely.

Qunioa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 cups cooked quinoa (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water and a little salt.  Bring to boil, cover and lower heat for about 15 minutes.  Cool)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed with your fingers to release flavor
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts.  Toast in a skillet over low heat, shaking pan often, they burn easily, so watch them closely.  Should take about 5 minutes.

1 head savoy cabbage-slice off about 1″ of the bottom with the core, then carefully carve out the core.

Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pinches black pepper, or more to your taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 64 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, agave or honey
1/2 cup water

1)  Cook and cool quinoa.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, saute until the onion is soft.  Add mushrooms and cook until the moisture has completely evaporated.  Add garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper and red wine. Simmer until the wine has reduced in half or so.  Cool.
2)  In a large pasta pot, bring water to a boil with 1 teaspoon salt.  Once the water is boiling, add the head of cored and trimmed cabbage.  allow it to cook for 5 minutes.   The leaves will soften, remove the outer leaves with a tongs.  Allow the cabbage to drain well and pat dry with paper towel.  Set aside.
3)  Prepare the sauce.  Saute the onion in the olive oil in a sauce pan, cook until soft.  Add garlic and cook one minute.  Add oregano, salt, pepper, tomato paste and sugar.  Stir often, allow the tomato paste to caramelize, 2-3 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and water.  Preheat the oven to 350′.
4)  Spread a little olive oil over your 9 x 13 baking dish.  Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom.  It’s time to assemble the cabbage rolls.
5)  Select 8-10 of the largest and prettiest cabbage leaves.  Hold a cabbage leaf in the palm of your hand and fill with about 1/4 cup of the filling.  Carefully roll the cabbage around the filling and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.   Ladle the remaining sauce over the rolls.
6)  Bake for 35-40 minutes.


*This recipe can be made 3-4 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

Oven Roasted Turkey Legs with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes…..

Good morning!

It’s a crisp -5 degrees today.  Wow, that’s cold!  Time to stay in and make comfort food!

I wanted to share with you something I made last night for dinner that was absolutely delicious!  Oven roasted turkey legs.  Why only enjoy turkey during the holidays?  It is quite economical to buy turkey legs and thighs throughout the year without having to deal with the entire roasted bird.  The added bonus here is that your kitchen will be warm from the oven and the smell of roasting turkey will waft through your house, nice!  If you have frozen turkey legs, be sure they’re completely thawed before cooking.  You won’t believe how easy this!

I would put the potatoes on the stove about 1 hour before the turkey is done.  Once you mash them just keep them tightly covered on the back of your stove until ready to serve.

Serve this dinner with a simple salad or vegetable and you’re good to go.  Make enough for leftovers for sandwiches or turkey pot pie!

Oven Roasted Turkey legs

4 medium to large turkey legs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt & pepper


Drippings from roasting pan (about 1 cup, if you don’t have one cup add enough water to make it one cup)
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1)  Preheat the oven to 325′.  Best to cook the legs in a roasting pan that you can cover.
2)  Coat the legs with olive oil with one hand and season generously with salt, pepper and oregano with your clean hand.  Place in roasting pan and add 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom of the roaster.  Cover and place in oven.  Roast for an hour and check to be sure you have liquid in the pan.  Add enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan.  Roast covered another hour.  Remove lid and roast another 30 minutes uncovered all the while making sure there is liquid in the bottom of the pan.
3)  Remove the legs from the roasted and place onto a plate, cover tightly with foil.
4)  For the gravy.  Pour the drippings into a fat separator if you wish or pour right into measuring cup.  Add water to get to 1 cup of liquid.  Pour drippings into small sauce pan.  Mix the cornstarch with the 1/2 cup of water and stir until completely dissolved, pour into the drippings.  Cook over medium heat stirring often until it comes to a bubble.  Taste.  Add additional seasoning if you wish.  Serves 5-6

Sour Cream Mashed potatoes

2 lbs. russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4″ inch
2 teaspoons salt
Water to cover
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup (or more) milk, zap in the microwave for a minute so that it’s warm

1)  Peel and slice the potatoes and put them into a large pot.  Cover with water and add salt.  Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Poke a potato with a fork while in the pot to be sure they’re tender.  Drain well and put the potatoes right back into the pot.  Add the butter, sour cream and warm milk.  Cover with the lid and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. 2)  Beat with a hand mixer for about a minute so that it doesn’t have large lumps.  Add additional milk if too thick.  Taste.  Add additional seasoning if necessary.   Cover with the lid until ready to serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

**if most of the drippings have evaporated from the roasting pan, add a cup of water to the pan and put the pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan.  You now have drippings ready to use.

Stay warm and enjoy!




Spinach, Artichoke and Parmesan Dip…..

Hello everyone-

I just had to share my latest creation with you!  I made this dip for a party last night and I/they loved it!  Everyone loves artichoke dip but the usual recipe is loaded with mayonnaise.  Delicious, but over the top in terms of fat and calories.

As usual, I’ve incorporated my old stand by Greek non-fat yogurt into my recipe.  It’s the best cheat ever!  You can also lighten it up even more if you’d like to by using low-fat cream cheese and low-fat mayonnaise.

Here’s the recipe…

Spinach, Artichoke and Parmesan Dip

1 1/2 cups greek non fat yogurt
1 8 ounce package softened cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves roasted garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil (in a very small sauce pan over the lowest possible heat, roast finely chopped garlic in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Cool.
1/2 cup parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the top before baking
dash worcestershire  sauce
dash hot sauce
1 lb. thawed and water squeezed out frozen chopped spinach
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped into small pieces

Stacey’s Pita Chips or toasted garlic baguette

1)  Roast the garlic and cool, thaw the spinach and squeeze out water and drain and chop the artichokes.
2)  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
3)  In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft.  Add the yogurt and mayonnaise, beat well, scrape sides of bowl.
4)  Add cooled garlic and oil mixture, worcestershire, hot sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and beat.
5)  Add the spinach and artichokes and mix on low-speed until well incorporated.
6)  Spread into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons parmesan.
7)  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm with pita chips or toasted baguette



Date Bread…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3137_2817I am in love with old-fashioned recipes that remind me of my Grandmothers.   I got this recipe out of Cooking Light Magazine years ago and it’s my go-to Date Bread recipe.  Add walnuts or chocolate chips if you wish.   Stir them in with the dry ingredient to keep them suspended during baking.   Moist and delicious and love that it isn’t loaded with fat.  This bread freezes beautifully as well.

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I baked my batter in small loaf pans.  I love doing this because the baking time is significantly shorter.  This recipe makes 4-5 small loaves (about a cup and a half of the batter)  and it takes about 30 minutes.  Check with a toothpick after 30 minutes and add time if necessary one to two minutes at a time.

I don’t know about you but I am SO ready for fall!  This 90′ weather has got to go.  Bring on the comfort foods!!

Have a nice day~


Angel Hair Pasta With Roasted Grape Tomatoes…..

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Ever buy beautiful grape tomatoes with great plans for an amazing salad and you come across them a week later when they are no longer at the peak of their beauty?  (At this point they are looking slightly wrinkled) This is the perfect plan for them!  It takes a little time to roast the tomatoes, but the rest of the dish is a snap.  You can  add whatever veggies you like.  I generally go through the refrigerator and forage for any little bits of vegetables that might be leftover from the week.  Would be delicious with asparagus, spinach, petite peas, shrimp, leftover chicken.  Your choice.  Let’s begin.

You will need garlic.  Lots of garlic.

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You’ll begin by going through the tomatoes, discarding any that are spoiled.  You should have about one cup total.  Give them a rinse.   Bathe them in the following:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon of dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper

Mix all ingredients to coat.  Place in a small foil or parchment lined baking dish to keep the goodies close together.  Roast in 225′ oven for one hour.

At this point you can save them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, serve over chicken, fish or rice.  Or you can make an amazing pasta dish!

Simple Summer Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

12 ounces cooked angel hair pasta or whatever pasta you prefer
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup reserved pasta water
tablespoons olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese

1)  Boil the pasta according to package instructions and reserve one cup of the pasta water.  Under cook the pasta by 2 minutes.  Drain.
2)  Warm a saute pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta and liquids over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the chopped onion.  Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often.
3)  Add the roasted tomato mixture and all juices and herbs/garlic to the pan.  At this point you could add any other veggies or ingredient to the pan.  Add the wine and about half of the pasta water.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.
4)  Add the under cooked pasta to the pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  The pasta will absorb the flavor from the tomato juices & wine.  If it appears that most of the liquid has been absorbed, you can add a little more pasta water.  You’ll want some moisture in the pan.
5)  Top with grated cheese and chopped parsley.  You could also add fresh basil.



Old Fashioned Potato Salad…..

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Good morning!  I am missing sharing recipes with you!  No time like the present.  I’m going to get right to it.

Recently I’ve tasted many commercial potato salads, hoping that I’d satisfy my taste for a delicious potato salad only to be disappointed. The potatoes have a weird texture and I can’t quite figure out what the dressing is made of.  Big surprise, right?  This inspired me to make my Mom’s Old Fashioned Potato salad.

If you’re like me, you just want a small spoonful of this type of salad.  No one wants to load up on fat laden mayonnaisey salad.  I have transformed the dressing into something very delicious and guilt free.  I very much prefer a combination of real mayonnaise, non fat greek yogurt, yellow mustard and a dollop of sour cream.  I think it always a good idea to add more crunchy fresh vegetables.

The beauty of  this salad is that you can add whatever ingredients you love.  Why not minced jalapeno or diced roasted red peppers, or blue cheese and crisp bacon?  Make it your own go to potato salad recipe.

My Mom’s had plenty of celery, onions and radishes. The perfect contrast to the cooked red potatoes with skins and the boiled eggs.  I just love that she added radishes, I think it’s brilliant!   I’ve added parsley too.  So good!

Garnishing is key as well.  Love sliced eggs, minced chives, radishes and a sprinkle of paprika.  Beautiful!

Mom’s Old Fashioned Potato Salad

2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered, boiled in salted water and cooled completely
6 hard boiled eggs, cooled & chopped, reserve one to slice for the top of the salad
Click here for the recipe for perfectly boiled eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup sliced radishes, reserving a couple for garnish
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh chopped chives, reserve a tablespoon for garnish
Paprika to sprinkle over the top of the finished salad

For the dressing:

1 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1)  Put all potato salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

2)  Whisk all salad dressing ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until well blended.  Taste.  Add additional seasonings here if you wish.  It may need a little more salt and pepper.

3)  Pour dressing over salad ingredients and gently fold until completely combined.

4)  Pour into a large serving bowl.  Top with boiled egg, sliced radishes, minced chives and a sprinkle of paprika.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Serves 8-10.

Enjoy, Happy July 4th!!


Luscious Red Velvet Cake…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3016_2696Red velvet cakes seem to be all the rage these days.  I am particularly fond of one bowl recipes.  This one is very, very simple and really moist and delicious.  Most recipes have only a teaspoon or two of cocoa.  I like to taste more chocolate so I’ve made adjustments to my recipe.

Being that this cake is so moist, I highly recommend lining the pans with parchment paper.  It is awful to have a beautifully baked cake that won’t come out of the pan!!

Red Velvet Cake

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring+ water to equal 2 ounces (or 1 teaspoon gel food coloring)
2 heaping tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
1 cup buttermilk (or mix 1 teaspoon vinegar + milk to equal 1 cup)

1)  Preheat the oven to 350′.  It is always a good idea to line the bottom with parchment paper.  With a pencil trace around the outside of the pan and cut it out.  Place in the bottom of the pan and coat well with cooking spray.
2)  In a large mixing bowl using  an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until well blended.
3)  Sift the flour, soda and salt together in a small mixing bowl, set aside.
4)  In a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, add 1 teaspoon red food coloring and enough water to equal 2 ounces.  Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and the cocoa.  Whisk to thoroughly blend.  Add to the beaten egg mixture and mix well.
5)  Add the flour and the buttermilk alternately to the egg mixture.  Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.  Do not over beat.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 32-35 minutes.  (check at 32)  The top should be firm to the touch and toothpick should come out clean.
6)  Cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 ounce softened cream cheese
4 ounces softened butter (one stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
milk as needed

1)  With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Add the vanilla and the powdered sugar.  Mix on the lowest speed of the mixer and add milk 1 teaspoon at a time to get a smooth spreading consistency.
2)  Ice the cake generously with the frosting.  Refrigerate cake.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

So delicious and simple to make.  Enjoy!


Turkey & Beef Enchilada Casserole On Next Week’s Menu….

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Turkey & Beef Enchilada Casserole is one of my family’s favorites!  For this week’s menu I’m doing half beef and half turkey, just to mix it up.  Click here for the recipe.

I’m implementing a few ideas from the new meatless cookbook I bought a couple of weeks ago. In lieu of a soup I am doing a vegetable curry. Very light mind you, rich in flavor. Enjoy over simple steamed brown rice for a killer vegetarian dinner! If you’d like rice with it, let me know.

I haven’t offered pork tenderloin in a while. The side dish and salad will be amazing with the simply seasoned pork.
Here’s the plan:

Grilled pork tenderloin, seasoned with fresh herbs
Apple, leek and butternut squash gratin
Green salad with warm goat cheese rounds, cider vinaigrette
Buttermilk oven fried chicken strips-kid AND adult fav!
Corn cakes-delicious little cornmeal patties made with fresh corn
Homemade coleslaw, light yogurt and celery seed dressing
Turkey/beef enchilada casserole-delicious seasoned beef and turkey layered with whole wheat tortillas and Mexican cheese.
Cactus salad with grape tomatoes, grape tomatoes, crumbled Mexican cheese with fresh lime cilantro dressing.
Vegetable curry-. Caramelized bok choy, peppers & shitake mushrooms w/ fresh basil in a mild red coconut curry. So good! (light coconut milk)
Mixed bean salad with fresh herbs
Cantaloupe & blueberries
Old fashioned date walnut bars

Because of you I get to do what I love. I cannot thank you enough!