Sunday, December 6, 2009

Popeye says eat your spinach!

And trust me, once you give this recipe a whirl, you'll gobble it right up! It's such an easy recipe to put together that it will absolutely be a staple in our home for party food.

I found this recipe on and adapted it slightly. I changed up the amount of mayonnaise and added in a block of cream cheese for some added texture and it worked beautifully! I also upped the amount of spinach to ensure that Popeye would be satisfied with the amount of spinach in each bite!

I served my dip with a crudite of veggies and some butter crackers and it was devoured! If you're not an onion fan, you may not dig this dip, as you do use leek soup mix. Other than that, it's a hit from start to finish!


Spinach Dip



3/4 cup mayonaise

16 ounces sour cream

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 package dry leek soup mix

4 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and rough chopped

10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained


In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, dry leek soup mix, water chestnuts and spinach.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight and serve the next day in a bread bowl.

O-R-E-O... ooooh! Sing it with me...

Oreos may very well be one of my favorite cookies. So it was a total let down when my sister in law announced she was not making her usual Oreo truffles as her cookie swap cookie. I decided that it just isn't Christmas without the truffles, and I made a batch!

They are super easy to make, require little ingredients, and are always a hit!

Enjoy :)

Oreo Truffles



16 ounce package of Oreos

8 ounce block cream cheese, softened

16 ounces candy melts, in whatever flavor or color you want your shell to be


Place entire package of Oreos into food processor and grind until they are a fine crumb consistency.

Combine cream cheese and Oreo crumbs in a big mixing bowl until it has formed a dough (the oil in the cookies will give the dough a nice sheen and will prevent the cream cheese from sticking to anything but the Oreos).

Use a cookie scoop to scoop out bits of the dough (I used a 1 inch cookie scoop) and roll into balls.

Once your balls are formed, you can melt your chocolate and then dip them in the melted chocolate (follow the directions on your packaging for melting of the chocolate). When dipping, I use two oversized spoons to roll the balls back and forth in.

Place the balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and chill in the freezer.

Yield: 24-26 1-inch balls.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eggnog is the drink of the God's.

Well probably not, but I have such an affinity to it that I have to limit my consumption. I've resorted to using philosophy's Old Fashioned Eggnog 3 in 1 Body Wash to get more of a fix. But I digress...

Last night was my hubby's annual family cookie swap and being the newest member of their fam, I volunteered to host and provide the snacky bits. One of the hits of the spread was this easy peasy Eggnog Cake. As much as I enjoy a scratch cake, one that comes from a box saves time and with the week I'd had this week, I was looking for as many time saving things that I could.

This cake is super moist and dense all at the same time... the eggnog, rum, and nutmeg flavors work so beautifully together to make this cake a new favorite in our house for years to come!


Eggnog Cake


Ingredients - Cake:

4 Tablespoons butter or margarine

1 packaged yellow cake mix

1 1/2 cups commercially prepared eggnog

2 eggs

1 teaspoon rum extract

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ingredients - Glaze:
2c. powdered sugar
2T. melted butter
3T. eggnog
1t. vanilla

Directions - Cake:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, eggnog, eggs, rum extract, nutmeg and melted butter on low speed for 30 seconds or just til moistened. Beat on medium for 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour into greased bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
Poke holes in the hot cake and brush with half of the eggnog glaze.
Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Drizzle with remaining glaze.

Directions - Glaze:
Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl, whisk well. Add more eggnog if needed for a consistency that will drizzle from a spoon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shhh... it's a secret!

This was the second installment of the Secret Baker shipment I mentioned in an earlier post. This time, our theme was Fall... whatever we baked & sent had to be fall inspired!

I chose to make Pumpkin Streusel Bread. Since the recipe I used makes a ton of bread, I ended up with 2 loaves and 9 good sized muffins. I love how this bread/ muffin recipe turned out... so moist and tasty. The streusel topping is really the highlight (or so I think!). I will absolutely be making this again very soon!

Enjoy :)

Pumpkin Streusel Bread/ Muffins




  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 3 cups white sugar

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Streusel topping

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 5 tablespoons white sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans or prepare muffin pans with paper liners.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix streusel of flour, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle onto loaves.

  4. For loaves, Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. For muffins, Bake for about 20 minutes in preheated oven. Bread/ muffins are done with a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Light & fluffy pumpkin!

For my girls night dessert, I decided to make a pumpkin infused mousse. I could not stop eating this dessert... it is so light, airy, spicey, and pumpkiny (is that even a word?).

Enjoy :)

Pumpkin Mousse



  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

  • 3 cups heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Ginger snaps, for garnish


Combine pumpkin, 1 cup cream, sugar and spice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool fully.

Whip remaining heavy cream and vanilla to soft peaks and fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour into a serving dish and crumble the ginger snaps over top before serving.

Girls just wanna... eat goooooood!

This past weekend was our monthly girls night with 3 of my bridesmaids and myself. This month I had the honor of hosting for the first time at the new love nest of the husband and I!

Since it is a chilly October here in Rhode Island, I decided to use a fall theme for the meal... lots of warm flavors with a hint of spice and lots of yummy goodness!

Enjoy :)

Apple Cider Martinis



2 oz vodka

1 oz butterscotch schnapps

1 oz apple cider


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice until chilled.

Serve in a cinnamon sugar rimmed glass.

Apple Butter Pork Loin, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Baked Acorn Squash




  • 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin

  • s&p to taste

  • 2 cups apple juice

  • 1/2 cup apple butter

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Place pork in bottom of crock pot.

  2. Mix juice, butter, sugar, water, and spices together in a bowl and pour on top of roast.

  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.

  4. An hour before serving, stir in a slurry of cornstarch & water to thicken sauce.



3 lbs yukon gold potatoes

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 heads of garlic


S&P to taste


Begin by roasting the garlic: preheat oven to 375, slice tops off garlic so bulbs are exposed. Place garlic in baking pan, drizzle with evoo and season with S&P. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool completely.

Peel and cut potatoes into small cubes. Boil until soft.

Place cooked potatoes and butter in mixing bowl. Combine. Add peeled garlic cloves. Combine again. Add cream until you reach desire consistency. Season with S&P to taste.



2 acorn squash, sliced in half and seeds removed

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp brown sugar (light or dark)

Pam cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray cookie sheet with Pam and place squash halves cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes or until soft to the touch.

Remove squash from over, flip so cut side is up. Fill the hole of squash with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp brown sugar each.

Return to oven for 15 minutes, to melt butter and combine sugar.

All those in favor of tasty & quick Mexican flavored soup say "Aye"!

Aye Aye!

I love Mexican food... so much so that I dream of visiting Chicago one day just to go to Rick Bayless' restaurant!

I adapted this recipe from one I found on a website that is put together by the local Nest board and it is certainly a great resource for all sorts of deliciousness!! I'm always looking for good slow cooker recipes since I work late and the husband's idea of cooking a good meal is calling for takeout.

Enjoy :)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup



  • 1 pound shredded, cooked chicken

  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed

  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn

  • vegetable oil


  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with chili powder, salt, pepper. Stir in corn. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

  2. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and avacado slices.

Here fishy fishy fishy!

Fish is one of my favorite things to make... This recipe is a super simple way to jazz up some plain old white fish.

Enjoy :)

Parmesan Baked Fish



1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons salt

2 pounds thawed fresh or frozen fish fillets

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

melted butter


Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 2-inch baking dish.

Blend together the milk and salt in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs, paprika, and Parmesan cheese in another bowl.

Dip fish fillets into milk mixture then into crumb mixture. Arrange in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle melted butter over fillets. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Fish should flake easily with a fork when done.

Let's pop some bubbley!

Risotto is a labor of love... lots of stirring, and adding liquid, and more stirring. But once the creamy texture forms, and the smell of parmesean cheese is oozing from the pan, it makes it all worth while!

After our wedding in May, I found myself starring at 5 bottles of champagne... 4 were gifts, 1 was leftover from my bridal shower. I quickly went on a hunt to find recipes in which I could put some of the champagne to good use (I didn't use all of it, of course... I had to save some to sip out of the beautiful Tiffany flutes we were given :)). I adapted this recipe from and it was a huge hit with our dinner guests! I added the asparagus for a bit of bite and color & some mushrooms too (to be able to tell myself it had veggies in it!!).

Enjoy :)

Champagne and Asparagus Risotto



8 thin slices prosciutto

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

24 asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

portobello mushrooms

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 ½ cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1 ½ cup Champagne

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the slices of prosciutto on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto slices are almost completely crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. The slices will crisp up even more as they cool. Reserve for garnish.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside and keep the chicken stock at a low simmer.

In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spoon the risotto into serving dishes and garnish by breaking the crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Balsamic vinegar is love.

This past weekend we had my hubby's sister and her husband over for dinner and some Trivial Pursuit on the Play Station.

While recipe planning a few weeks back I came across a recipe on a local recipe site for Balsamic Chicken with Angel Hair. I decided that that was a fine jumping off point but I knew I wanted to change the recipe up a bit and come up with my own concoction.

It turned out so well that my non-cook of a sister in law even asked for the recipe! Delicious!

Enjoy :)

Balsamic Chicken and Angel Hair with Zucchini



4 chicken breast, boneless skinless
1 pound angel hair pasta
4 medium, quartered and sliced zucchini
1/2 of a small red onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 - 8 leaves, fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese


1 - Begin cooking angel hair pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water; reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.

2 - Cube chicken breasts & season with salt & pepper. In a fry pan coated with olive oil, saute onions & garlic until soft; remove from heat.

3 - Add chicken to same pan & sauté, do not cook through yet. Add onions and garlic back in. Stir to combine then add sliced zuchinni. Cover and simmer on low heat.

4 - Toast pine nuts in a dry pan until lightly browned.

5 - Add pine nuts, balsamic, & reserved pasta water to chicken mixture. Continue to cook uncovered until chicken is cooked through; add basil chiffonade at last minute prior to removing from heat.

6 - To serve, spoon mixture over angel hair pasta & top with parmesan cheese.

Helloooo Secret Baker :)

On the fabulous message board that I frequent, we tried our first ever baking exchange. It's basically like Secret Santa (we used the website but with yummy baked goods!

When I picking something to bake, I had to think logistically, since the baked goods needed to be packable, mailable, and not very melty! I have a basic coffee cake recipe that I've used in the past for your standard cinnamon style but I decided to mix it up a bit and turn the typical coffee cake into an Almond Joy Loaf. I took all the elements of a great coffee cake (moist, rich cake) and added in all the fabulousness of an Almond Joy (almonds, chocolate, and coconut!).

Enjoy :)

PS: I received rave reviews from the loaf's recipient Jessi! Hope you enjoyed the loaf!!

Almond Joy Loaf



1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups divided sugar
2 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup slivered almonds


1 - Combine 1/2 cup sugar, coconut, chocolate chips, and almonds in a separate bowl. Set aside.

2 - Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together with a paddle attachment on your mixer. Add eggs. Beat in vanilla. Mix until smooth and well combined.

3 - Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.

4 - Spoon 1/2 the batter into a greased tube pan.

5 - Sprinkle 1/2 of the coconut mix over the batter. Add remaining batter and then top with rest of coconut mixture.

6 - Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Hi. I'm Tana, and I'm a coconut-aholic!

Any chance to infuse coconut into a recipe, I am so game for it. when I spotted a recipe in a Food Network magazine a few months back, I dog-eared it because I knew that coconut chicken fingers were in our future.

I served them with a store bought sweet & sour sauce that was a lovely compliment.


Coconut Crusted Chicken Fingers

(adapted from Food Network)



1 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted


1 - Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2 - Mix coconut, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in medium bowl. Dip chicken strips into egg, then coat with coconut mixture. Place in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with melted butter.

3 - Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through, turning once.

My husbands favorite burgers.

You could say that my husband is a burger aficionado and is a firm believer that burgers should be their own food group. So when I decided to mix up our typical burger with a stuffed burger, my husband was certainly skeptical in the begining but quickly proclaimed that I could make this stuffed burgers whenever I wanted to.

I chose to stuff my burgers with bacon and bleu cheese but you can certainly mix it up and stuff them with whatever makes you salivate :)


Bacon & Bleu Cheese Stuffed Burgers



1 pound of lean ground beef (I use 86%)

1/2 cup of bleu cheese crumbles

1/2 cup of crumbled bacon

4 kaiser rolls

extra virgin olive oil


1 - Section beef into 8 portioned balls and then flatten each slightly while forming a lip on the outside edge of each.

2 - Divide the bacon & bleu cheese between 4 of the 8 patties.

3 - Top each 'stuffed' patty with one of the flattened burger patty's. Seal the burger by working it in your hand and pinching down the edges.

4 - Grill burgers until cooked to your liking.

5 - Drizzle oil on both tops and bottoms of the kaiser rolls and grill for 3-5 minutes or until crunchy and brown.

Beer & Pork...

Root beer and pulled pork that is!

I came across the simplest recipe for the most incredibly moist and tasty pulled pork. Best part? All the work is done by a slow cooker!

I served the pork alongside some super easy oven fries!

Enjoy :)

Root Beer Pulled Pork and Oven Fries


Ingredients for the Pulled Pork

2 pound pork loin

16 ounces of root beer

1 bottle of barbecue sauce of your choice (we like honey flavored)


1 - Place pork tenderloin into slow cooker and pour root beer over the top.

2 - Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until pork shreds easily.

3 - Remove pork from slow cooker, shred & remove any fat, return to slow cooker and pour in the bottle of barbecue sauce. Stir to combine and serve on your favorite roll (we like Kaiser rolls)

Ingredients for the Oven Fries

2 pounds of yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 8ths

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp kosher salt


1 - Place oil & all spices into a resealable storage bag.

2 - Add potatoes and shake to coat all potatoes with the mix.

3 - Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray & dump coated potatoes out onto sheet.

4 - Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

My husband turned 30 on June 17
and this past weekend we had our entire family & group of friends over our house for cake, presents, and rice krispie treats. Yes, I said rice krispie treats! Nothing brings me back to my childhood like RK treats and I knew I wante dto make some for the party but I knew I had to dress them up. I decided to go with my hbs favorite flavors of peanut butter and choclate and dip the RK treats!

As far as directions are concerned, I followed the directions right on the box to make the treats, let them cool in a pan, then used a greased circle cookie cutter to cut out the circle shapes. I then dipped one end into a bowl of melted peanut butter discs and then right into a bowl of cookie crumbs.

Simple, fun, tasty, and impressive!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pesto Pasta Salad

The weekend we returned from our 10 day Disney Honeymoon was Memorial Day and my mother-in-law's birthday party. I knew I had to bring something that was equally tasty as it was quick to make (because I was still in my honeymoon mode!!). I also wanted to be able to utilize my new bowl from Crate & Barrel that has not only serving utensils attached to the lid, it also has an ice pack that slips in the bottom... perfect for a summer salad at a summer cookout!

I found a recipe for a Pesto Pasta Salad and I never turn down a chance to pull out the food processor and blend up some yummy garlic, basil, pine nuts, and sweet extra virgin olive oil. This pasta salad was a true hit and on my list of "must makes" again in the future.

Pesto Pasta Salad

(adapted from


1 lb uncooked spiral pasta

1 cup fresh basil pesto

1/4 cup pine nuts

12 ounces cherry tomatoes

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

- Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Make sure the water is salted.

- Put pasta in a big bowl. Mix in fresh basil pesto and pine nuts. Gently mix in cherry tomatoes and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill or serve at room temperature.
Basil Pesto


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts

3 medium sized garlic cloves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- Add all dry ingredients except cheese & salt/ pepper to a food processor bowl & pule until thoroughly chopped.

- Add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup

Monday, March 23, 2009

chocolate + peanut butter + cheesecake = heaven!!

I was browsing through my Kraft Food & Family magazine yesterday and came acorss a recipe for Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Babies. Just the name makes me salivate!! They were super easy to make and totally a crowd pleaser! I omitted the cool whip, vanilla extract, and cherry topping and I honestly don't think they need it at all.


Peanut Butter Brownie Babies

Adapted from: Kraft Food & Family Magazine (March 2009)



1 pkg brownie mix (and the ingredients required to prepare brownie batter as indicated on the box)

8 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup peanut butter


Heat oven to 350.

Prepare brownie mix as indicated on the box and divide into 18-20 cupcake liners.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and peanut butter until blended.

Spoon by rounded tablespoon into the center of each cupcake liner and press lightly into the batter.

Bake 30 minutes or until centers are set.