Monday, October 14, 2013

Veggies For Breakfast

I'm always looking for delicious low-carb dishes.  I love veggies and my middle child does as well. This dish is a perfect breakfast.  You can saute the veggies ahead and just do a quick reheat if you are trying to save time.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman

The only think I did differently was to shred the cheese on top. And I used a touch of butter AND olive oil in the skillet.

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter AND Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Diced Zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Diced Yellow Squash
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Cut Into Chunks
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1 whole Tomato, Sliced Thick
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese Shredded ( or cheese of choice)

Preparation Instructions

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the zucchini and squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to cook for 3 to 4 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill the tomato slices on a grill pan or simply sear them in a hot skillet. Remove and set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to carefully stir the water into a circular "whirlpool." Crack one egg into the water and allow it to swirl around in the water until the egg begins to set. Let it stay in the water for 2 minutes (I don't like too much runny yoke, so I cook longer), then remove it with a slotted spoon and set it on a plate. Repeat with the other egg. If eggs need to be cooked longer, just add them back to the water for 30 seconds at a time.

Spoon the vegetables on a plate or in a bowl and set the eggs on top. Lay the tomato slices on the side. Place the cheese slice on the side so that it starts to soften from the heat. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. When you cut the egg, the melted cheese and yoke make a great sauce.

Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper and serve!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer is Pie Time

We love pies in our house and our favorites are Blueberry and Lemon Meringue. I found this recipe in the newspaper in Ann Lander's advice column. Weird place to find a recipe, but it is the most fail-proof Lemon Meringue recipe I have found. I cut out the recipe and it is getting very frail! So I'm adding it here for when the newspaper crumbles.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 baked and cooled 9 inch pie shell (I use Pillsbury pie crust - to help pie crust retain its shape while baking, add some type of weight in the middle such as a smaller pie plate with beans or rice in it.)
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (more if you like an Uber lemony taste)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 teaspoons vinegar
3 tablespoons butter


1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
3 egg whites
7 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
In a double boiler, or a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together; add in the 2 cups COLD water. In a small cup/bowl,combine the egg yolks with lemon juice; whisk until well mixed. Add to the sugar cornstarch mixture; whisk until mixed. Cook and mix/whisk until mixture thickens (about 6-7 minutes, do not over-boil mixture or it will not set properly), if you are making in a saucepan, be careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan, a double-boiler is definitely recommended for this. Remove from heat. Add/mix in the lemon extract, butter and vinegar; stir thoroughly. Pour the lemon mixture into cooled pie shell; set aside to make meringue.
To make meringue:
A quick tip: I put my Kitchen Aid stainless steel bowl in the freezer with the whisk attachment.  Also, you may think the cornstarch mixture is strange, but it helps make a glossy, fool-proof meringue that browns wonderfully.

Blend/whisk the cornstarch and cold water in a small saucepan. Add in boiling water, and cook, stirring until clear and thickened. Let mixture stand until COMPLETELY COLD. With an electric mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Turn mixer to low speed; add in pinch salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the cold cornstarch mixture. Turn mixer again to high; beat well. Spread/pile meringue over cooled pie filling, making certain to seal the meringue to the baked crust.

Set oven to 350°F, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Risotto - Not for the faint of heart

Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

I love risotto. It is a creamy, decadent dish that we don't enjoy often, but when we do, it is a pleasure. I would have to say that making risotto is not for the beginner cook.  It takes patience and skill, so you may end up making it more than once before it truly turns out.


1  16 ounce package of Risotto arborio rice (I use Bellino)
46 ounces of chicken broth
1 small chopped onion
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
My additions:
1/2 cup of white wine
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 package of sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of asparagus *See recipe for roasting below.
1/4 to 1/2 cup of ricotta (I use my homemade ricotta)

Cook according to package directions!  This is very important to keep a watchful eye on the risotto and make sure your chicken broth is hot while you stir it in.  You want the risotto to be al dente (firm to bite)

I also add just before the risotto is done
1/2 cup of white wine (I use Chardonnay)
2 Tablespoons butter

While the risotto is cooking, I saute 1 package of mushrooms in olive oil.  Then I add roasted asparagus.  You could saute with the mushrooms (add after the mushrooms have started browning)

*If you want the dish to be extra special, roast the asparagus that has been tossed with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  When done, cut in 1 inch pieces and mix in the finished risotto with the mushrooms. The final touch is to mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ricotta. This adds a creamy texture and great flavor.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Different Type of Birthday Cake!

Beautiful Birthday Cake

A coworker made this and I wanted to duplicate for my mother-in-law's birthday.  I made some changes because I know she doesn't have a huge sweet tooth. But the cake still turned out delish!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cream cheese frosting (I use Pillsbury)
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup raspberry jam
40 Kit Kat pieces (the individual piece, not a "bar" and buy extra)

Preheat to 350 degrees. Make cake according to the box directions. This recipe will only use one 8 or 9 inch round cake. I used the rest for cupcakes. While the cake is cooking, clean strawberries and blueberries. I slice the strawberries so it is easier to eat (this is a deviation from the original recipe). Gently mix together and place in a bowl, cover with plastic rap and set aside.

When cool enough to remove from pan, place on a cooling rack. I gently cut the top to make it flat. Heat up raspberry jam, be careful not to burn. I used the microwave for about 30 seconds. With a pastry brush, spread the hot jam on the top of the cake. If you do this while it is warm, it will soak in nicely. (This step is a deviation from the original recipe.)

When cake is finally cooled, place on a flat plate with enough of an edge to line the cake with Kit Kats. On the edge of the cake only, spread with the cream cheese frosting. While the frosting is still fresh, push one Kit Kat vertically until you have circled the entire cake. Secure with a ribbon. I use the curling wrapping ribbon. Fill the well that has been made by the Kit Kat bars with the strawberries and blueberries - Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013


I love bread, biscuits, biscotti, pasta, carbs!  I found this great biscuit recipe on Pinterest and I have made it so many times. Each time I do, they disappear fast.

I have even used them for strawberry shortcake and the are so light and fluffy, they are perfect for theMonster Mama
From Monster Mama
dessert. Of course I can't find the original pin, but I did find the recipe at

2 cups of Bisquick
1/2 cup of sour cream ( I use lite sour cream)
1/2 cup of 7 UP ( I don't know if Sprite or Sierra Mist will work)
1/4 cup of butter

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. In a 9 x 9 baking dish, melt butter. Mix Bisquick and sour cream until just incorporated. Add 7 UP and mix. Will be a stick batter.  Sprinkle a little Bisquick onto the counter and gently knead dough so that you make a 9 x 9 square.  Pre cut and lay on top of butter.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and they should be golden brown. Watch out, they will fly off the plate!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baking Bread

My Panettone
There is nothing better then the scent of freshly baked bread.  I have worked on perfecting my Panetone recipe and the family loves this bread.

Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread that usually has chunks of dried oranges and raisins.  I use cran-raisins instead and it taste great. It's a long recipe, but so worth the time.


1 1/2 cups of dried cran-raisins
1 1/2 cups of red or Marsala wine
1/2 cup tequila (optional)
2   1/4 ounce packages of quick active dry yeast
Traditional Panettone Shape
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup of luke warm water
5 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 ounces room temperature butter (cut into small pieces)
6 eggs at room temperature + 1 egg white
1 egg yoke
1/4 cup of whole milk

Combine cran-raisins, wine, and tequila (if using) in a bowl to macerate. Combine yeast, pinch of sugar, and luke warm water in a bowl, stir and let stand 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and egg white into a mixer.  With the dough hook, mix at a slow speed.  Slowly add yeast mixture. When all ingredients are combined, mix at medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes.  The dough is a little sticky, but will be shiny and gather around the dough hook.

Set dough into a bowl that has been lightly greased with oil.  Cover with saran wrap and put in a draft free place for approximately 2 hours.  Dough should be doubled in size.  Put dough on a floured surface and gently knead for a few minutes.  Put back into bowl and allow to rise for approximately 1 - 2 hours.  Dough should double in size.  By allowing the bread to rise so many times, you will have the right texture--airy with tiny holes.

After second rising, drain cran-raisins (I reserve the liquid. It tastes awesome over ice cream).  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Knead cran-raisins into dough and divide into 2 pieces.  Place in a greased loaf pan, and allow to rise for about 1 more hour.  Cut a slit down the middle with a sharp knife.  Mix egg yoke and milk and brush over bread.  Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 - 45 minutes depending on your oven.  I use the Pampered Chef mini loaf pan, so I divide my dough into 4 smaller loafs.  Cool on a rack.  Taste wonderful hot and fresh from the oven.  Cover well if there is any left! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Birthday Wishes!

I love to bake and my kids have given me their orders for their birthday cakes.  This year, my daughter (her birthday is today!) gave me her birthday gift list and it included what she wanted to eat for dinner during her birthday week.  Yes, I did say week. So, list in hand, I made her the veggie lasagna and tiramisu. Tiramisu is an Italian dessert that is so delicious and a favorite of my family.  Tiramisu means pick me up in Italian.  The recipe below includes raw eggs. If you are looking for a recipe with cooked eggs, please try PW's Tiramisu recipe.

Here's my recipe:


5 egg yokes (from the freshest eggs you can find)
1 pound Mascarpone cheese (Italian dessert cheese)
6 egg whites
1 3/4 cups of cooled, brewed espresso
1/2 cup of brandy, amaretto or cognac
3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 - 1 1/2 packages of lady fingers (I use Balocco Savoiardi - a crispy cookie)
1/2 cup of shaved dark chocolate (or cocoa powder)

Mix egg yokes and granulated sugar until thick and frothy, about 5 minutes. Yes, this is raw eggs.  If this really bothers you, you can "coddle" the eggs over a double boiler, whisking constantly with the sugar for 2 minutes after the water in the double boiler has reached a boil.  If you don't whisk, you'll end up with scrambled eggs.  Add  mascarpone cheese and stir until smooth.  2 Tablespoons of cooled, brewed espresso, stir until incorporated.

Take egg whites and whisk until you have the stiff peaks of a meringue.  Gently fold egg whites into mascarpone and egg yoke mixture.

In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and brandy. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.

Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Sprinkle 1/2 of the shaved chocolate.  Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle with rest of shaved chocolate. You can shave more chocolate depending on your taste

Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Below is the St. Paddy's Day Feast I cooked for my family today.  As I have a bit of the Irish within me, I love to celebrate the day. However, my daughter who also has a wee bit of the Irish within her, continues to remind me that St. Patrick was Italian.  Since we're both - then I guess it's still okay for use to celebrate.

For starters, I cooked Beer Braised Irish Stew. I searched high and low for a recipe and read all of the reviews before I settled for one.  Below is the recipe that I've adapted for my family.  The original recipe can be found here - Beer Braised Irish Stew

I also made Irish Champ and Cheddar Beer Soup (click for recipes) again I read the reviews.  With these recipes, I altered the soup by adding about 4 cups of extra sharp cheddar. Next time I'd add half the beer and replace it with chicken broth.  The beer flavor was overpowering.

For dessert, I traditionally make my scones or Irish Soda Bread, however I forgot to pick up apricots and butter milk at the grocery store, so it's mint chocolate chip ice cream made into Shamrock Shakes (ice cream, milk, and vanilla cream (used in coffee)).

Adapted Recipe
Image from
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds beef chuck stew meat
6 ounces of Guinness Stout Ale (original recipe called for 12 ounces)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped onion 
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot (approximately 5 medium)
1 1/2 bay leaves (original recipe called for 2)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (original recipe called for 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat in 2 batches, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Return all the meat to the Dutch oven, sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat the meat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, dark beer, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover.
  3. Place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven, and cook for 45 minutes; uncover, stir the stew, and cook until the beef is very tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 45 more minutes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

PW Strikes Again

I have to admit, I love watching Pioneer Woman. She has great recipes that are easy to re-create. Some do tend to be on the butter heavy side, but that is something that can always be reduced. And since we don't live on a cow farm, we aren't able to work off those pats of butter.

Last night I made PW's Patty Melt and Crash Hot Potatoes.  They were awesome! I hadn't had a Patty Melt in at least 20 years. For the Patty Melt, I did not put butter in the pan to fry the hamburger, but I did put butter in the pan when I fried the sandwich, but did not spread butter on the bread. I used about 1/2 stick of butter.

Here are the recipes:

Pioneer Woman's Patty Melt

Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Superbowl Sunday!

Well, it's Superbowl Sunday and while my husband and son will be watching the game, I'll be watching Downton Abbey. But that doesn't mean we won't be sharing good food.  For the day, I made chili, corn bread, brownies, wings, and gucamole with chips.

Chili is something that is easy to make, can simmer on the stove and snack on all day. Cornbread is a great partner for chili and I love how easy it is to make. For the brownies, I adapted Pioneer Woman's Knock You Naked Brownies -- we borrowed her Buffalo Wings and Asian Wings too. For the Gucamole, we made Wegman's recipe.

Here's PW's Knock You Naked Brownies recipe.  I adapted the recipe by using brownie mix (make according to directions), take half of mix and place in a 8 x 8 pan, bake for 10 minutes. Take 40 caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk and melt the caramel and milk in a double boiler until smooth. Pour caramel over partially cooked brownie and sprinkle 3/4 cup of chopped pecans. Layer on the rest of brownie mixture and cook at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Chili Recipe (serves 4)
1 pound of ground sirloin
1 small chopped onion
1 can of chopped tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 cup of water
Chili Mix (1 TBLspoon cumin, 1 TBLspoon chili powder, 1 TBLspoon garlic powder, 1/2 TBLspoon onion powder, 1/4 TBLspoon red pepper flakes)

Serve with cornbread

Brown sirloin and onions until cooked. Add chili mixture and stir well to coat. Add tomatoes and water, bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and scallions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inspired by Pinterest!

I'm fairly addicted to Pinterest. I find great ideas, recipes, and images there daily.  Tonight I didn't know what to cook, so I went to my Favorite Recipe board and Dessert Board.

For dinner I made this delicious pasta recipe found on Goddess of Scrumptiousness' Blog

I wasn't sure if everyone would like it, but they did--even my son who wants steak for every meal.

This recipe is a keeper and will most likely be made on a monthly basis. 

For dessert, I made Easy Apple Cake found at Recipe by Photo's Blog

It did seem to be too sweet. In the future I'd probably mix about 1 cup cake mix with some cubed butter, apple pie spice, and oats.

All in all, a good, quick and easy dinner!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Holiday Season

We didn't have a great Christmas since my mother is so ill. So I didn't get to do my usual Christmas dinner complete with beef tenderloin, lobster, gnocchi, tiramisu, and so many other great things to eat.

So we spent the holiday in Michigan and we still had a great dinner at my parents, all of the family together except my husband and one of our children - this was horrible. We had ham, potatoes, corn, cheesecake, and other traditional Ayotte family foods.

Really, food does bring people together. Food and tradition. There are so many traditions we have that center around food and family. Every holiday, religious celebrations, birthdays. They make us commune together in order to bond and enjoy.

I try to think of things that we don't celebrate around food. It's hard, really!

What traditions are your favorite in your family? What holidays do you love to celebrate the most?

I love Christmas and Thanksgiving. Birthdays can be special too.