Friday, December 19, 2008

Ho Ho Ho (Part II)

As previously mentioned, our family cookie swap is coming up this weekend and since I had the day off, I baked my Mom's contribution -- Toasted Smore Bars.

They're beyond delicious... gooey, chocolately, and perfect!

I got this recipe from the same magazine as listed in the Eggnog cookie post ("Holiday Cookies" by Cuisine at Home" and to be honest, I was slightly hesitant about putting Reese's peanut butter cups onto a smore bar. But I'm so glad I did! It adds a really great touch... however, I did make a batch up without the PB cups because of of the ladies involved in the swap doesn't care for peanut butter. In that case, I up-ed the chocolate chips to 2 C and upped the marshmallow to 2 C as well.


Crispy Toasted Smore Bars
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For the crust...
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C all purpose flour
pinch of salt

For the toppings...
12 peanut butter cups, quartered
1 1/2 C mini marshmallows
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; coat a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. The mixture will look curdled - it's ok :)
Stir in graham cracker crumbs, flour, and salt. Reserve 2/3 C of this mixture to use as a topping.
Lightly spray your fingers with nonstick spray and then press the remaining graham cracker crumbs into the prepared pan (the layer will be thin). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
After the crust is baked, top the hot crust with peanut butter cups, marshmallows, and chocolate chips; press lightly to adhere. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture in clumps over the top and press lightly.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until the marshmallows are puffed and just beginning to turn golden.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ho Ho Ho (part I)

So every year Mr. Tana-Licious' family does a big cookie swap... this year there are 10 lovely ladies involved which means 10 dozen cookies to share & I get to bring 10 dozen different ones. Not so shabby :)

I picked up a magazine at Lowe's last week titled "Holiday Cookies" by Cuisine at Home because the front cover had this adorable little cookie on it with holly decoration! I flipped open the magazine and found them... Eggnog Tea Cookies with Butter Rum Icing. I was instantly sold!!

So I took on the challenge of baking all 10 dozen this am and just finished the decorating. I'm really pleased with how they turned out... and I was shocked that there recipe does not call for actual eggnog! Just lots of nutmeg and then the rum in the glaze. Needless to say, one bite proved that they are very eggnog-y and very yummy!

My next baking endeavor will be Smores Bars from this same book... That's going to be my Mom's contribution to the cookie swap and as the resident baker of the house, I'm more than willing to help out!

Enjoy :)

Eggnog Tea Cookies with Butter Rum Icing

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2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir flour, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.
Cream the 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until just incorporated.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until blended.
Cover and chill dough for at least one hour (up to 24 hours).
Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon) and arrange onto a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch and light brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

2 C powdered sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. rum extract or light rum

Blend powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. of butter, and rum together using a mixer.
Frost cooled cookies then decorate however you'd like.
Allow icing to harden before packaging.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


is a labor of love! ;)

I made this risotto dish a few weeks back for Mr. Tana-Licious and my Mom for supper. It was creamy and wonderful! I would omit the thyme next time because frankly, I'm not a huge fan. Other than that, I would make it in a heartbeat!!

I served it with some simple grilled chicken and sliced almonds.

Enjoy :)

Cauliflower Risotto with Brie & Almonds

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4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups water
3 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 ounce Brie, rind discarded, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Bring broth, water, and thyme sprigs to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté cauliflower with 1/4 teaspoon salt until crisp-tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add thyme leaves and sauté 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to pan, then add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring, until wine has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and briskly simmer, stirring, until broth has been absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 22 minutes. (There will be leftover broth.)
Stir in cauliflower, Brie, and salt and pepper to taste. Thin with some of remaining broth if desired. Serve topped with almonds.

I'm coconuts for you, Mom!

As mentioned in the Crab Dip post, we had a little birthday get together for my Mom in late November and I, again, was put in charge of cake duty!

Besides her love for anything crab, she also loves coconut.. which in my humble opinion, makes a much tastier cake!!

I made her a coconut layer cake with coconut buttercream... this cake was pretty dense with the coconut milk and really packed a coconut punch... which was exactly what I wanted!

Enjoy :)

Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

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2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lépez)
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Pinch of salt
4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients and then buttermilk, each just until blended.
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with pinch of salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.
Divide cake batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
Place 1 cake layer on cake plate. Spread 1 cup Frosting over cake layer. Sprinkle 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut over. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut over cake, gently pressing into sides to adhere.

(Coconut Layer Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.)

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar (approximately 1 lb.) sifted
2 Tablespoons milk


In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
Add vanilla.
Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.
Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Happy Birthday Mom!
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I love a good quickie...

... a peanut butter quickie that is!! ;)

This recipe was shared with me by my future mother-in-law... she says it was her go-to cookie when the kids would come home and tell her they needed a couple dozen cookies for a bake sale the next day.

Simple and delicious... And quick!!

Enjoy :)

Peanut Butter Quickies

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1 egg
1 C sugar
1 C peanut butter

Combine all ingredients throughly. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completly on wire rack and then devour them!

Note: I scoop the dough with a cookie scoop and then roll them into balls. I then use a fork to make the traditional peanut butter cookie marks (I moisten the fork slightly and press into granulated sugar before I press the dough).

Who you callin' crabby?!

We had a lovely get together for my Mom's birthday at the end of November and I hipped up this yummy & easy crab dip! Being from Maryland, my mom has Old Bay running through her veins so this was the perfect birthday party appetizer for her!!

Enjoy :)

Crab Dip

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11 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 Tbs. mayo
12 ounces of crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large bread bowl

Preheat oven to 350. In bowl, combine cream cheese, onion, mayo, crabmeat, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt and pepper. Spread into a two-quart baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. While it's baking, cut a whole at the top of the bread bowl, and scoop out some of the bread to make room for the dip. Remove dip from oven, stir, and scoop into the bread bowl. Place on a baking sheet, and bake additional 10 minutes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dip dip... mmm :)

When I saved this next recipe, I really didn't know when I would make it or how well it would be received. So yesterday for my Dad's birthday gathering, I found the perfect time to make it AND the perfect audience to try it out on... my family!

This dip is so easy & so yummy... creamy & flavored with all the right flavors for fall (my trifecta - see previous post for explanation!). I served this dip with gingersnap cookies & pretzels... I'm sure fresh fruit would be a great option too!

Enjoy :)

Pumpkin Dip
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2 c. confectioners sugar, sifted
1 (8 oz. ) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin pie filling mix
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and cream cheese, beating until well blended. Beat in remaining ingredients.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Carrots are good for your vision...

... even if they are drenched in cream cheese icing!

So Saturday was my Dad's birthday and the man loves carrot cake. I decided that I would attempt my first home made carrot cake! The reaction of the birthday boy was simple... "yummm" :)

I found this recipe on the food blog titled "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" and made some simple changes to it to make it more spicy (I'm in love with my trifecta of fall spices... clove, cinnamon, nutmeg!). This makes a massive amount of cake! I ended up baking it in 8" x 3" pans & spliiting the cake to make a pretty 4 later cake! I did, however, double the frosting recipe (and is noted below) I used because let's be honest, who doesn't love gobs of cream cheese frosting?!

Enjoy :)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Walnut Frosting
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4 cups sugar
2 cup vegetable oil
8 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups grated carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix sugar, oil, and eggs. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to first mixture and combine. Add carrots and mix well. Fold in coconut & raisins. Pour into a greased pan and bake until done, 25 to 50 minutes,
depending on the pan you use for 30-60 minutes (I used 8"x3" pans and it took 55 minutes to bake). Cool completely.

2 sticks regular butter, softened
2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 cups pecans, chopped finely
4 teaspoons vanilla

In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and blend, then mix in the nuts. Spread on cooled carrot cake.

Happy Birthday Dad!
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24 down, 12 left.

So I stumbled across a recipe for apple cookies on and thought "I could do something like that, but better!). Here's my "better"!

However, while whipping up my own concoction of Granny Smith apples, cinnamon, and oatmeal... I decided to bake them at 375 for 11-12 minutes as the inspiration recipe stated. Well, needless to say, the title of this entry is what happened... I ended up with only 12 cookies because I burnt the first 24 I put in at 375.

Soooo, I kicked the oven down to 350 and put them in for 8 minutes and they came out perfectly! These cookies are spicy and sweet all at the same time... Enjoy :)

Oatmeal Apple Cookies with Cinnamon Glaze
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1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 granny smith apples - peeled, cored and grated (squeeze excess juice out)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup rolle oats

Beat butter and brown sugar together.
Beat in egg and blend thoroughly.
Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Stir half the dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Stir in apples and then stir in remaining half of dry ingredients and milk. Mix well.
Drop from tablespoon 1 1/2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove cookies to racks.

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to make glaze of spreading consistency. Beat until smooth. Drizzle on warm cookies.


Two of my favorite things in the whole foodie world are pasta & shrimp... this recipe is the perfect marriage of two... kicked up a little, of course :) My mom actually found this recipe and we fixed it a few weeks back and everyone raved about it... o much so that we fixed it again last night! Serve it alongside some crusty Italian bread and be ready to breath some fire!

Spicy Shrimp Pasta
(adapted from Emeril's Shrimp and Pasta with Chilis, Garlic, Lemon and Green Onions)
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20 to 25 (1 1/4 pounds) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta (I prefer linguini)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with the Essence.
Bring a pot of water to boil for the linguini. Cook & reserve one ladle of cooking water,
Place the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large 14-inch skillet over high heat.
Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them evenly in 1 layer. Cook for 2 minutes then turn them to the other side.
Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the wine, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook for 1 1/2 minutes.
Add the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add the ladle of cooking water & the pasta to the pot and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove pasta from heat, dress with green onions, and serve.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

Chicken a la Tana

This is a staple in my house... so easy to make & so yummy!! Enjoy!

Chicken a la Tana
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4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (approximately 1/4 inch)
4 pieces of prosciutto di parma
4 pieces of provolone cheese
seasoned bread crumbs
tooth picks
olive oil
1 package of baby portobella mushrooms, sliced
white wine
worcestershire sauce

Take your pounded breasts and season the inside with salt & pepper.
Lay one piece of prosciutto in each breasts followed by one piece of cheese.
roll up the chicken, ensuring that the sides are tucked in.
Dredge each chicken roll in bread crumbs & then brown in a skillet that has approx. 2 tbsp of butter melted with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
After the chicken is browned, place into a pyrex baking dish & bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (or until chicken is firm & cheese is bubbly).
While your chicken is baking, take your mushrooms and place into a deep sided skillet along with 2 tbsp of butter, a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce, and approx. 1/4 cup of white wine (I prefer pint grigio).
Saute the mushrooms until soft & browned (you may need to add more butter or some salt & pepper -- depending upon your taste).
Dress the chicken with the mushroom sauce & enjoy :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spooky & delicious!!

I heart cake.
I heart truffles.
I heart lollipops.

If you're anything like me and enjoy the above 3 treats, this recipe is so for you! I've made these cake balls before (right around St. Pats!) and they were a hit so I figured, why not make them Halloween-a-fied! Mr. Tana-Licious and I are headed to a Halloween party and I was asked to bring something sweet (besides my sweet self!)... Cake balls it is!

I decided to do chocolate cake with chocolate icing on the inside and then dip them into both white chocolate and milk chocolate. And, I decided to use lollipop sticks to make them easier to eat for the party go-er's. Frankly, I don't think I would make this recipe again without using lollipop sticks! The stick helped so much with dipping and even more with dropping the nonpareils over top!

Who says ghosts can't be adorable?!

Cake Balls
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1 box cake mix of your choice (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting of your choice (16 oz.)
1 bag of chocolate meltable discs
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. (I tend to then put my crumbled cake into the fridge to get extra cold).
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting (I found it easy to use a spatula to blend).
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet (I used a small cookie scoop and ended up with 60+).
4. Chill for several hours (I left them in the fridge for 24 hours).
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Stick lollipop sticks into the chilled cake balls.
7. Dip balls in chocolate and stand on wax paper until firm -- if you're using nonpareils, drizzle those over the warm chocolate and if you're making ghosts or drizzling chocolate, wait until the chocolate has set!

Trick or Treat!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Caramel Apple Pie... x's 2!

I stumbled across this recipe while visiting the RI Nest page as I sometimes do to take a peak at what new recipes those fab women are cooking up. Everyone seemed to be raving about this pie so I figured I'd give it a whirl!

My Dad is a diabetic so with the amount of apples I had (two 1/2 pecks form a local farm stand!), I figured I'd make 2 pies and then have my future in-law's over for pie on Sunday evening!

Both pies browned up really nicely and tasted yummy however, they were both so watery... maybe it was the type of apples? Who knows! It certainly did not hurt the taste of the pie in anyway! It just made it more like an apple crisp once I scooped it out of the pie dish!

I did make some slight adjustments to the recipe... Beyond the switch of Spelnda for sugar, I did not have pumpkin pie spice so I did a 50/50 ration of cinnamon and nutmeg for that. And, for the apples... I used way more than 6 apples. I like an over filled pie and that's what these both endedd up being. I'd say that from the two 1/2 pecks we had, there were only 5 apples left!

I would make this pie again, just maybe with a different apple to type to see if I could reduce the wateriness... and maybe add more caramel on top for more of a punch!

Enjoy :)

Carmel Apple Pie
Adapted from the RI Nest board & their recipe site.

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1/2 Cup(s) sugar (for the sugar free pie, I used Splenda)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon(s) cornstarch
14-16 peeled cored apples -- aproximatley 5 pounds for a heaping pie (I used Macintosh)
1 Tablespoon(s) lemon juice
1 Teaspoon(s) rum or rum extract
9 " unbaked deep dish pie crust
6 Tablespoon(s) divided butter or margarine
3 Tablespoon(s) caramel ice cream topping
1/2 Cup(s) flour
1/3 Cup(s) brown sugar (for the sugar free pie, I used Spelnda brown sugar)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and corn starch in a large bowl. Cut apples into 1/4" thick slices and place in a separate bowl. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and rum; add to dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Place in pie crust. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

Stir flour and brown sugar together in small bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just like my Grandma!

Nothing brings me back to my Southern roots like home made peach cobbler!! This recipe is so simply but such a show stopper!

Enjoy :)

Peach Cobbler

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1 cup Original Bisquick
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 can (29 ounces) of drained sliced peaches (2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) peaches can be used instead.)

Heat oven to 375.
Stir together peaches and sugar.
In a ungreased square (8x8x2) baking dish, stir together Bisquick, milk and nutmeg.
Stir in butter until blended.
Spoon the sugared peaches over the batter.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Oh it's ladies night...

Once a month myself, 2 of my bridesmaids, and my matron of honor get together at one of our homes and do dinner, drinks, and lots of girl talk! Instead of us going out every month, the person who hosts that month, also fixes the meal! Not so shabby!

This month it was my turn and I used Ms. Rachael Ray as an inspiration! I went on my quest to find something quick, easy, tasty to make, and impressive (of course!). I stumbled upon Rachael's Chicken Brasciole that she served with Lemon Pepper Cappelini. SWEET! Then the question was, "what veggie to serve alongside?"... how about some simple steamed squash?! FAB! And to drink... well, even I impressed myself with this one! I dubbed it "Semi-Homemade Sangria". So delish & perfect!

The crowning jewel of my meal was dessert... a Bailey's Irish Cream Cake with Bailey's glaze. O. M. G. SO GOOD. It was such an incredibly simple recipe and absolutely one I will make again.

This meal was incredible from start to finish and I got raves from all three of my lovely gal pals!

Now go... Enjoy it yourselves :)

Chicken Brasciole
(adapted from Rachael Ray)

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1/2 cup hot water
Handful raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, a few sprigs, leaves chopped

Pour very hot tap water into a small bowl. Add raisins and plump 5 minutes.
Drain raisins and pat dry. Place raisins, nuts, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, bread crumbs, and cheese into processor and pulse into a stuffing.
Butterfly the chicken open by cutting into and across the breast but not all the way through. Pound out the cutlets and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill the breasts with stuffing, roll and secure with toothpicks.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown the brasciole all over 7 to 8 minutes, remove and set aside. Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up the drippings. Stir in tomatoes and tarragon, add chicken back, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Lemon Pepper Cappelini
(adapted from Rachael Ray)

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 pound capellini
1/2 cup shredded or torn basil leaves
Grated cheese, to pass at table

Place water on to boil for pasta.
In a large skillet combine olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic, pepper and the lemon zest.
Salt water when it boils then cook cappellini to al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a ladle of cooking water to lemon pepper butter and stir in the lemon juice. Drain pasta and toss with lemon-pepper butter and salt, to taste. Add the basil to the pasta and serve a small bundle alongside your entree or serve as a delicate first course.

Semi-Homemade Sangria

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2-750 ml bottles of Arbor Mist Sangria wine
Splash of peach schnapps
Splash of Cointreau
Splash of brandy
Fruit of your choice (I used 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 apple, 1 peach, 1 orange and sliced them all into 8ths)

Place sliced fruit into the bottom of the pitcher.
Pour liquids over top.
Muddle the fruit & liquors together & serve on ice.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake

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1 c. nuts
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 (3 oz.) pkg. Jello instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on the bottom of pan. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour over nuts. Bake 1 hour. Cool cake completely. Remove cake and pour glaze over top and sides.

1 stick butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. Bailey's Irish Cream

Melt butter. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. REMOVE from heat. Stir in Bailey's Irish Cream.

*Note: I poured and repoured the glaze over the cake about 5 times to get it to really soak in. I then took the remaining glaze and put it into a tupperware container and drizzled it over top with each piece I served!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buffalo Chicken goodness!

This has to be one of my most requested recipes that I make! It's perfect for a party and feeds a crowd on one turn of it!

Mr. Tana-Licious loves buffalo chicken... as does my future brother-in-law! So when we got together to celebrate his birthday this past weekend, this was on the top of his "must have" list.

I happily obliged! :)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

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8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup bleu cheese dressing
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups canned chicken, drained

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep dish 9-inch pie plate. Microwave 1 minute to soften.

Whisk in salad dressing, Buffalo Wing Sauce and cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken (make sure it is broken up into smaller chunks).

Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Serve with crackers (I used Towne House Toppers)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A grilling feast!

After returning home from a week on vacation, on Sunday I decided that I needed to cook! I was having serious with drawls but also didn't want to labor over the hot stove all evening!

The solution... beer can chicken! Mr. Tana-Licious' aunt made something similar to this a few weeks back when we joined them for dinner and we fell in love. So simple & so incredibly yummy! I paired it with some grill packet potatoes (took my Lipton potato recipe and tossed it all together into some aluminum foil and stuck in on the grill!) and some locally grown sweet corn. Yum!

Dessert was no let down either! I kept with the grilling theme and made a recipe I had seen in Cooking Light... Grilled pineapple with a rum glaze! To die for!

But first... let's get to the chicken! I started with a quick rub of extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and garlic paste (peel, smash, an then finely chop garlic - add a bit of kosher salt and mash the heck out of it with your knifes side!).

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Then I prepped the chicken and the beer can! I tied the chickens little wings together to keep it all nice and compact. For the beer can, I started by drinking just about half of it (someone has to have the hard job!!) and then I shoved about 4 sprigs of rosemary in and then sat the chicken down over the beer can & onto a cookie sheet (this is optional however, it caught a ton of drippings that would have otherwise went into the grill).

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Next step was to slather the chicken in the EVOO/ pepper/ garlic rub. I made sure to drip some down into the chicken and lather him up good!

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The chicken then made his trip to my grill where we let him cook for 90 minutes over medium low heat!

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At the end of his 90 minutes on the grill, he was looking mighty yummy and smelled fantastic!

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I then brought the chicken instead and tented him to keep all the juices inside. Helps make a moist bird even moister...

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I would absolutely make this chicken again in a heartbeat... ad you can always switch up the ingredients too. For example, you could use a dry rub instead of the EVOO mix I made... or drop some smashed cloves of garlic into the beer can! Endless possibilities!!!

Onto dessert... My favorite part of a fabulous meal!

Rum Glazed Grilled Pineapple
(adapted from Cooking Light)

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1 whole pineapple sliced into 1" thick rings
1/2cup of your favorite rum (I used Cruzan Coconut Rum)
Vanilla ice cream

Start by heating your grill to medium heat and place the pineapple rings onto the grill.
Grill each side of the pineapple 2-3 minutes or until heated through/ grill marks are present.
Generously baste the pineapple with the rum and flip to do the same. Repeat the basting/ flipping process for 3 more minutes.
Serve alone or with ice cream!

*Note: I served mine ice cream sandwich style! The coconut rum that I used really gave a deeper flavor or tropical fruitiness (is that even a word?!). Delish!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthdays are a labor of love!

So last month I decided that I would tackle the challenge of making Mr. Tana-Licious' birthday cake. I knew that I wanted to use fondant in some form... and that my darling fiance loves cream cheese icing & cinnamon. How to incorporate all 3 became my challenge... and I knew that I wanted to do it mostly all from scratch!

I found a recipe on Food Network for a Spicey Cinnamon cake (courtesy of Paula Deen!) and decided that that would be a solid base... and with a few tweaks I could make it work. Then, I took a classic buttercream recipe & adapted it to make it into a cream cheese frosting.

The result? Heavenly! The cake was moist & delicious and the frosting was soooo good... the cream cheese really works with the buttercream to give that sweet, but not too sweet taste.

Here are the recipes... I'll post pics after the recipes! Remember: the recipes have been tripled from their original amounts due to the amount of cake I was making! Enjoy :)

Cinnamon Swirl Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cinnamon Swirl Birthday Cake
(adapted from Paula Deen’s Spicy Cinnamon Cake)
*Note: this recipe makes a 2 tiered cake (10” & 8”)

3 packages white cake mix
3 4-serving packages of instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups of sour cream
12 eggs
1 ½ C corn oil
7/8 C + 1 T of sugar
2 T cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease cake pans.

Combine cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, eggs, and corn oil and beat together well.

In a separate bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Pour 3 C batter into prepared pan # 1 and sprinkle with half of sugar mixture. Pour another 3 C of batter on top.

Pour 1 ½ C of batter into prepared pan # 2 and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Pour remaining 1 ½ C of batter on top.

Bake 1 hour. Let cool and remove from pans.

Cream Cheese Frosting
*Note: this recipe has been tripled to frost a 2 tiered cake*

3 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 C + 2 T of shortening
9 C powdered sugar
3 dashes of salt
¾ C of milk
3 t of vanilla
3 T of meringue powder

Cream shortening, cream cheese, milk, vanilla.

Add salt & mix.

Beat in sugar & meringue until desired consistency has been reached.


Now for photos...

The cake!!!
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All lit up! Sparkler candles!
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The inside... loved that swirl!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knock knock... who's there?

Banana who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana!


That joke puts my preschoolers into a tizzy... who knew that oranges would be so good for knock knock jokes a well as for a yummy batch of blondies?!?!

When I stumbled upon this recipe a while back, I wasn't so sure I would ever use it. I like citrus as much as the next woman but orange blondies? Blondies (and brownies for that matter) are not supposed to contain fruit! Ludicrous...

That until I made them, ate one, and fell deeply in love! These blondies are so easy & so delicious. As I was making them, I was contemplating how I could switch the recipe up in the future because it is a basic blondie recipe... with the addition of the fruit thrown in. Maybe lemon? Or key lime? Or, lemon lime! Endless possibilities that I will certainly whip up in the future.

Please try these... they are so moist & the frosting really compliments the blondies perfectly! Oh, and it is a requirement that you must tell a horrible knock knock joke while eating these too! ;)

Orange Blondies

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.

Go to goodness.

Who wants to come home from working all day and slave over a hot stove? NOT I!

This is absolutely one of my go to recipes... I'd compare it to a quick version of Shrimp Scampi. It's really all by taste but the flavors really come together well and you can whip it up in 10 minutes tops. I always keep a bag of fresh frozen shrimp on hand for meals
just like this! Pair it with some garlic bread & a salad and you have a hearty meal!

Super Quick Shrimp Pasta

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2 tbsp minced garlic (jar or fresh)
the juice of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp parsley (fresh or dried)
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb shrimp (frozen or fresh; pealed & deveined)
1 lb pasta

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Once it has reached a boil, cook pasta according to directions on box.
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic.
Once the sauce has combined, add the shrimp.
Saute until shrimp are pink & firm.
Add parsley.
Once pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and reserve one ladle of pasta water.
Add the pasta and pasta water to the shrimp.
Toss all together and serve!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pizza Night!

While house sitting, Mr. Tana-Licious and I cooked up a BBQ feat of chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, and some great onion potatoes. As yummy as it all was, we made far too much chicken and ended up with a ton of leftovers... probably about 3 full breasts!

What to do with the yummy BBQ chicken... take it for lunch? Sure. But why not make a BBQ chicken pizza! And so my pizza was born... it was so easy to throw together and tasted great.


BBQ Chicken Pizza

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3 precooked chicken breasts, cubed or shreded
1 ½ C BBQ sauce
1 precooked pizza crust (suggestion: Boboli)
1 ½ C of shredded mozzarella cheese
½ C chopped scallions

Preheat over to 425 degrees.
Spread ½ C of BBQ sauce on pizza crust; set aside.
Toss chicken in remaining 1 C of BBQ sauce.
Pile chicken ontop of pizza crust.
Sprinkle scallions onto chicken & follow with cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Tana-Licious’ notes: I used leftover BBQ chicken that we had made on the grill a few nights prior. It worked out really well & you could taste the smokey grill taste too!

Spinach & strawberry... a salad match made in heaven!

When I tell you that this salad is super easy and such a crowd pleaser, you better believe me! I found the basic recipe on & then added some twists to it that really helped the flavor along. Here is my version...

Enjoy! :)

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
(adapted from all

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4 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup balsamc vinegar
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 ½ cups candied almonds**
2 cups bleu or gorgonzola cheese crumbles

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, strawberries and almonds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
Pour dressing over the salad.
Top with cheese & serve!

** To candy almonds: drop into a hot pan and sprinkle with sugar and a few drops of water… allow the almonds to caramelize on low heat for a few minutes

Tana-Licious’s notes: You can prep everything ahead of time but make sure to leave dressing out on a counter and not in fridge. It will turn to sludge!

Everything tastes better with hummus!!

I have seriously neglected my blog as of late! Things have been super busy around here... a couple of weddings, birthdays, parties, and lots of work (so un-fun!). Fear not my friends, I'm back with a vengeance! ;)

I decided to tackle a recipe that I've always wanted to make... hummus. I made it for Mr. Tana-Licious' Aunts birthday party the weekend of the 4th. I've never made hummus before because I do not have a food processor. Very sad :(... however! While house sitting at said Aunt's house that week, I discovered theirs and was as giddy as a child!

The hummus turned our perfectly... nice and garlicy with a pop of black pepper. It was definitely spicier than anticipated but the combo of roasted garlic & freshly ground black pepper was a hit!

Enjoy :)

Roasted Garlic Hummus

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3 - 19 ounce can chickpeas
3 - head roasted garlic**
1 ½ lemon (zest and juice)
4+ tablespoon olive oil
3 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything in a food processor until smooth. Add olive oil as needed to bring it to the consistency that you like.

Note: I serve mine with red & yellow bell peppers, baby carrots, and pit bread wedges

**To roast garlic:

heads of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cut the tops of the heads of garlic off such that a little bit of each clove is exposed.
2. Drizzle olive oil on the exposed garlic cloves and season with the salt and pepper.
3. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil
4. Bake in a preheated oven until the garlic is soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
5 Let the garlic cool.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Sandwiches

Yes... they are as decadent as they sound!!!!

This is certainly one of my easiest and best recipes that I have... they're always yummy and can be so festive! I made them for my bridesmaid Laurens college grad party and rolled the edges in red & blue (her school colors). I ended up quadrupling the recipe and with well over 40 sammies, there were none left!

Try these once and I guarantee you'll be making them again and again!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Sandwiches
Makes 10 sandwiches

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10 Chips Ahoy Cookies
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. sugar
1 C Cool Whip, thawed

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Stir in the whipped topping.
Cover the flat side of the cookie with approx. 1 T of the cheesecake filling (note: I used a cookie scoop for quick & even filling!). Top each with the second cookie, bottom side down, to form a sandwich.
Freeze for 3 hours.

NOTE: You can dip the sandwiches in chocolate or roll the end in small chocolate chips, coconut, sprinkles, etc! Make them fun & festive!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How ya feelin'? HOT HOT HOT!

So we have been having this incredibly hot weather here in Rhode Island... Feel like was 107 degrees today! Yowza! So on Sunday I wanted to make a dessert but was avoiding turing the oven on at all costs.

I remembered seeing something on the back of the Oreo pie shell regarding an Oreo ice cream pie but alas, I tossed the recipe. Thank goodness for Google &! I found a comparable recipe and made a few adaptations (omitted the nuts & added some Oreo pieces to the ice cream filling). This pie is quick, easy, and so refreshing!


Oreo Ice Cream Pie
(adapted from

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1 pkg. Oreo cookies (lg.)
5 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
1 (13 oz.) container Cool Whip

Crush Oreo cookies with rolling pin and reserve 1 cup of crushed crumbs. Combine remaining crumbs with melted butter and press into a greased 9 by 13 inch pan. Combine ice cream, vanilla, 1/2 of Cool Whip, and reserved Oreo crumbs. Place on top of crust and freeze until firm. After frozen, place a collop of cool whip on top and drizzle chocolate syrup.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Walnut Cookie Pie

Weew... that is a mouthfull! I again stumbled upon this recipe on Something Sweet... this is the same blog that I found the fabulous Strawberry Lemonade bars on!

After clicking over to the Hershey website, I found the original recipe and decided to follow it instead of just doing a strictly PB pie.

So I'm just about ready to stir in the peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and walnuts when I realize that I doubled the amount of flour. Crap. What to do? do I scrap the batter and start again or double up the remaining ingredients and make not only a pie for dessert tonight, but some pie-cakes (aka: pour the batter into cupcake cups and see what happens!).

I chose to double up! I baked off the pie first (it took 55 minutes) and then popped in my 24 pie-cakes. They baked for 25 minutes and were nice and golden brown! They didn't rise at all so it'll be perfect to add in a bit of whipped cream or ice cream on top... after it's warmed up so the chips get soft!

This is such a yummy & quick dessert! I served the pie with whipped cream after heating each slice for 10 seconds. I'm sure it would be equally good with ice cream.

The only adaptation I made was that I chose to use a chocolate cookie crust instead of the graham cracker crust. It adds in a extra kick of chocolate & looks pretty too!

Enjoy :)

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

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1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Beat butter in medium bowl; add eggs and vanilla. Stir together sugar and flour; add to butter mixture. Stir in milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and nuts; pour into unbaked pie crust.

3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool about 1 hour on wire rack; serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. 8 to 10 servings.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

What's better than strawberry lemonade?

I'll tell you... strawberry lemonade in the form of a dessert bar! I saw this recipe on a fellow foodie blog called Something Sweet and I knew it would be a perfect match for our Memorial Day cookout last weekend!!

This little babies sure pack a punch of lemon and taste so yummy! they were devoured the minute they hit the table! My only gripe - they did not swirl as I expected them to. The only reason I can figure for this is that I had frozen strawberries in the house (instead of fresh as the original recipe called for) so I used those... maybe too watery? Who knows!

It certainly didn't effect the taste and the two layer look was sort of cool as well!

Enjoy :)

Strawberry Lemon Bars
(adapted from Something Sweet)

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7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Lemon Filling:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ Tbsp. flour
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp milk
Pinch of salt

Strawberry Puree:
1/2 cup chopped frozen strawberries
1–2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, depending on how sweet the berries are

Mix the chopped strawberries with sugar and set aside to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Mix flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add the pieces of butter and, using a pastry blender or your hands, mix until it's a pale yellow and looks like coarse cornmeal. Line an 8x8 baking pan with a sheet of parchment. Press crust mixture into an even ¼-inch thick layer and about ½-inch up the sides. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Blend the strawberries in a food processor (for a few seconds) or mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. Cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F and bake crust for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

For filling: Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and milk.

Reduce the oven temp to 325F.

Pour the filling into the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture on the surface. Use spoon or knife to swirl the strawberries through the filling.

Bake at 325F for about 20-22 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. Cool to room temperature, and dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wilton Cake Class... We have homework?!

As mentioned in the "Blondies... or brownies?" post, myself, my Mom, my future sister-in-law and my future mother-in-law are all taking the Wilton Cake I
class on Wednesday nights during the month of May. We really enjoyed the class but really didn't realize that we would have homework each week! To really expand upon our bonding time together, we decided to get together this past Sunday and ice our cakes for our class on Wednesday night... here are some shots of our crazy icing party.

PS: homemade buttercream icing = TO DIE FOR

Here is Jenn (my FSIL & Matron of Honor!) using this fantastic little contraption called a cake leveler to slice through her cake to be able to fill the center with frosting! PS: If you want a great trick to avoid getting the hump in the top of your cake... let me know! It works like a dream!
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And here is my Mom icing her cake a lovely shade of purple!
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And here is Miss Bette (aka my FMIL) icing her cake white... because she said she isn't a "show off" who needs to dye her icing. I think she is just jealous!
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Jenn was having some difficulties with icing hers... she was a little too rough with it. She needed an icing lesson from her Mom!
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Here is my cake pre-smoothing... also, I have some great tricks for smoothing too!
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My Mom & my cakes after smoothing... now they will wait to be decorated at class on Wednesday night!
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And did I mention that Jenn's hubby & Mr. Tana-Licious were at Jenn's house too? Do you think they were cake creating? Oh no... they were hard at work...
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Playing Playstation 3!
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Stay tuned to my blog for more pictures from this weeks cake class! Wish us luck!!