Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

This recipe from, Cooking Light, was wonderfully good!  I had a little help from my sous chef, Kevin, so I could take pictures.  I think he did absolutely fabulous.  This recipe, found here, was so tasty, I don't know how it qualified for Cooking Light, but I'll take it.  The only thing I did differently then the original recipe, here, was to use dry fettuccine instead of refrigerated.  I figured it wouldn't change anything, but just in case you were wondering.  I highly recommend you make this soon!  Enjoy!

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt and reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

Kevin sautéing the garlic.

The final result in our All-Clad pan of course.

With this meal, Kevin tried another new beer from The Brooklyn Brewery.  Hopefully the hubs will write his thoughts on these beers, but for the time being the info from the breweries website can be found here.

Mozzarella Chicken and Blackberry Pie Bars

 I combined the next two recipes to alleviate a post.  You're welcome!  In my opinion, you can skip right over the chicken and go straight to the pie bars.  As you can see from the original post here, there's looks so much better.  The major mistake I think I made was where the recipe called for me to drizzle the sauce over the chicken.  I followed the recipe and there was so much of the sauce.  I figured there was no way I wasn't supposed to use it all.  So, I poured it on.  That being said, even with the excess of sauce, it had absolutely no flavor.  If you make it and have better results, please let me know!  I would love to hear what you did.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard
lemon pepper to taste
4 slices of bacon cut in half
1 cup shredded mozzarella


Heat oven to 375 degrees.  

Place the chicken in a baking dish and DRIZZLE with mustard and honey.  Sprinkle on lemon pepper.

Bake 25 minutes then top with two pieces of the bacon and sprinkle on cheese.  Bake an additional 10 minutes or until done.  Cheese should be melted and juices clear.

The chicken, honey mustard sauce, and lemon pepper.

The bacon cut in half.

Adding the bacon and cheese.

The finished product served with corn and not potatoes for once!

The blackberry pie bars were wonderful!  It is definitely a keeper recipe.  Not only were they delicious when first made, but they were equally, if not better, the next day heated up with a little butter.  My favorite part was the crust.  It had a nice crutch and subtle butter flavor that was so delectable.  Not that your mouth is watering, you should immediately go and get your ingredients to make these!  The recipe came from Tracey's Culinary Adventures and can be found here.  The recipe calls for almond extract, which I did get, but when it came time to make these I switched for vanilla (a suggestion from the original baker herself). Kevin  doesn't like nuts and I didn't want to chance him not liking the bars.

Blackberry Pie Bars



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

2 large eggs
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
pinch salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
16 oz fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I used my standard glass rectangle pan and it was fine).

Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and continue pulsing until the pieces of butter are very small (like pebbles) and the mixture is crumbly. Transfer 3/4 cup of this mixture to a small bowl and set aside to use for the topping. Dump the remainder of the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer to form the crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

For the filling, mix together the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract until well combined. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the blackberries. Spread the filling over the crust (distributing the berries evenly). Top the filling with the reserved crust mixture – I like to squeeze in my hand to form clumps then sprinkle over the top so the pieces vary in size.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the bars are set (the topping won’t really brown much). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. To more easily cut them into squares, refrigerate briefly before serving.

I have all my ingredients ready.

The beginning of the crust/topping.

Mixing up the filling.  If you don't have a stand mixer it's no biggie.  You can always just use a whisk or hand mixer.

The finished product!  We ate them plain, but I'm sure some ice cream would be a great accompaniment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

St Louis Cardinals

Before our big move, my husband was making sure to figure out all the essentials.  One might think that would include our bank, a grocery, pet food store, etc.  Instead, I heard all about where the Cardinals, Colts and Boilermakers were playing.  Him being the fanatic he is, did not limit himself to just New Jersey, but he calculated how far it would be to go other places in our vicinity.  Needless to say, it is one one the qualities I love about him!  We always have a blast at all the games and my sports wardrobe has far exceeded his!

We ventured out in the rain, don't worry I was prepared with my Burberry wellies, to Citi Field in Queens.  We were getting familiar with the mass transit so we felt pretty pleased with ourselves, then our first train changed tracks 2 minutes before arrival.  Good thing for the aforementioned wellies, because it was time to run up the stairs, across the tracks and back down to catch it.  Whew!  We made it, now time to relax until Penn.  We get there and our confidence starts increasing since we feel like we got this.  It an earlier post I mentioned that at Penn Station you find out what track your on 10 minutes before time.  Well, the 10 minute window came and went and we finally found out 4 minutes beforehand!  Time to run again with a crowd of people, mostly in Mets gear.  Being the Cardinals fans we are, we persevered and made it!  

Now we went on a Tuesday night and it was pretty dead.  The Cardinals also had played the night before and lost, so I was a little nervous.  Though walking in I felt better because with what little fans the Mets had, we had equally as many!  The boos, and the booze, made me cheer so loud that I swear the Cardinals could hear me.  Conveniently in the 7th inning I decided to take a potty break and get us our last beers (Bud and Bud Light brewed it good ol' St. Louis of course), when I came in contact with the nicest Mets fans.  The guy working at the stand and these two guys told me that "The midwest does it right",  "You guys don't boo people like we do", and "The Cardinals are an amazing team"!  I was feeling on top of the world.....go us!!  Even though we were up 3 runs, it was still anyones' s game. We were on the edge of our seats for the next two inning until the Cardinals finally pulled through and won the game 3-0. A great fête since they lost the day before and after. I'd like to think that we must have been their lucky charm, or my insane cheering must have helped! All in all, a great experience for our first time at Citi Field ballpark!    

After our win!!

3 Envelope Picante Roast

It's raining here in New Jersey and I have my coffee and juice ready, so what better to do then to post more blogs!  I know, I know you can hardly contain your excitement!  If I can power through this week, then I should be caught up and not posting three+ posts a day.  Wooohooooo for us all!!  This next recipe is, you guessed it, EASY!  I feel like Pee-wee Herman and the gang should all come out screaming every time I say that.  The final product had both positive and negative attributes.  The negative aspect was that the roast was a little tough.  There are a couple things I can think of that could have caused this.  First, I have a 7 quart All-Clad slow cooker, which meant that liquid was not covering my measly 3.5 pound roast.  Which leads us to 2, I think if more water or possibly beef broth were added to cover the roast it would have been more tender.    
Despite the slight toughness, it wasn't like chewing on a piece of leather or anything, it had so much flavor.  I was a little skeptical of the picante sauce because it seemed like one of those which is the least like the other questions.  But much to my surprise, it added a nice little kick.  Now of course with just two of us, the reason why there are 3 dinners a week, there are leftovers!  To try to remedy the toughness, I added the leftover meat to the extra gravy.  It worked like a charm!  It was so amazing reheated and made me absolutely love this recipe, though I will probably try more liquid next time.  The original recipe can be found here!  You should check it out because she does a few different variations.  

Three Envelope Picante Roast


3 to 5 pound beef chuck roast (or other braising roast)

1 cup of water
One envelope of dry onion soup mix
One envelope of dry Italian dressing mix
One envelope of dry brown gravy mix
1 (8 ounce) jar of Pace Original Mild Picante Sauce


Whisk together the water with ingredients from all 3 of the envelopes. Pour about 1/4 cup of the liquid on the bottom of the crockpot, place the roast on top. Don't be tempted to season the roast. There is plenty of salt and other seasonings in these envelopes.

Pour the remaining liquid mixture all over the top and all around the roast. Pour the jar of picante sauce on top of the roast, cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high 4 to 5 hours.

To thicken gravy, remove the roast and tent with foil to keep warm. Carefully transfer the contents of the crockpot to a saucepan and stir in a slurry of one tablespoon of cornstarch with just enough water to loosen. Stir into the sauce, bring up to a boil, reduce and simmer until thickened.        

The 3 envelopes and water getting mixed.

The finished roast.  You can see the picante sauce on it.

The plated meal......meat and potatoes to keep the hubby happy, oh and wine :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Central Park and The Irish Pub

For those that haven't noticed yet, my "out and about" pictures are all from my iPhone.  Figuring my DSLR would scream tourist, I opted for the camera on my phone instead.  One might think that taking a picture with my phone isn't much better, but I would like to think I'm super sly.  Mastering the "look away" and "quick no one's looking" techniques have become my specialties.  But, who am I kidding, I'm sure I still look like a ridiculous tourist!  Oh well, c'est la vie!  One of these days I will attempt to take my DSLR for a spin, but with the masses out everywhere in Manhattan it makes it a little difficult.       

The Plauderville Station in Garfield, NJ is our go to train station.  It is extremely close to us.

What does one do when it is absolutely gorgeous out and you have no plans?  Go to Central Park!  I won't start listing off central park facts, because let's face it, we can all (insert your search engine of choice) it.  We only made it about a third of the way through of this massive park, but it presented us with great people watching and entertainment.  

The Bethesda Fountain had a crowd gathered around some street performers.  We never really got what the "performance" was. They did kept getting money from those in the crowd so hopefully it was worth it for them.    

Now the majority of you know who this strapping lad is, but for those that don't, this is the man that I refer to as Kevin/husband/hubby.  He is the strawberries to my Nutella toast, the red soles to my Louboutins, well you get it, he's just so rad!  He will be in 99.9% of my posts so it's a good thing you met him early on.  It's like a side profile pic with a name!

The "look away" technique was in full effect here!  Who takes pictures of the food at a pub?  This girl!  Remember, I'm keeping our family updated on what were up to.  While The Irish Pub may not be a must go to spot when you are here, it was so good.  Kevin had the sampler platter (last picture) with about everything you would expect to be on it at a pub, but one difference was they put jalapeños on their potato skins.  Why didn't I think of that before?  I love jalapeños! A little thing, but a big difference!  I had a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich.  It was very tasty and I got my avocado fix!  The only downside was that we each only ate about half of our meals and couldn't really take them with us since we had a few other places to go.  Next time we will share something instead!  

Pepperoni Cheese Stick Roll-Ups

Three cups of coffee down and I'm ready to power through another post.  I know from the title, you are probably thinking, wow they eat a lot of crappy/ridiculously easy food, but it will not always be the case.  I wanted easy things for this month because I wasn't sure what our situation would be like when we got here.  Also, Kevin is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so I try to eat healthier for breakfast and lunch.   All the pictures taken of the Pepperoni Cheese Stick Roll-Ups and Bambus cocktail really aren't necessary, but I'm trying to put my amateur skills to use.  For how easy this recipe is, it packs a lot of flavor and would be great for a Super Bowl party (Go Colts).

First up, we have the Bambus cocktail found here.  While I really love red wine and cola individually, I did not love them combined.  To me it tasted like a flat cola or a too sweet Cabernet.

Bambus Cocktail

1 750 mL bottle of red wine
1/2 of a 2 Liter of the cola of your choice (as shown, we used Pepsi)

Pour your bottle of wine in a decanter.

 Then add half of your two liter and voila!  You just made the Bambus!

Now on to the super tasty pepperoni cheese stick roll-ups.  The original recipe can be found here.

Pepperoni Cheese Stick Roll-Ups


1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
4 cheese sticks, halved
1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
optional - marinara or ranch sauce for dipping

Garlic Butter Glaze: 
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut your cheese sticks in half and your pepperoni into fourths.  Take each triangle of crescent roll dough and place about 6 pepperoni on the bottom of the triangle. Place half of a cheese stick on top and roll up. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. While rolls are cooking, combine the melted butter, Italian seasonings, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
  4. When rolls are done remove from the oven and brush with the garlic butter glaze. Serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.

The assembly area for my roll-ups.

All the ingredients for the Garlic Butter Glaze.

Brushing the glaze on with my Orka silicone baster brush.  I originally got mine from Sur la Table, but found it online here.  I love it because you can suck up your glaze instead of having to keep going back and forth from the bowl to your food product.  Shown also is another love, my nonstick Silpat mat.  All the melted cheese seen above would most likely stick to the cookie sheet or foil if used, but with this mat it comes right off with little effort.  I use it so often, I'm thinking of getting another 1 or 2 for things like cookies when I use multiple cookie sheets!

And finally, the finished product!  

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells

I'm up and back at it this morning with my catch up attempt!  After this round, I will have about 4 more recipes to add,  then hopefully I won't bombard everyone with a million posts a day.  The next recipe I prepared is nothing fancy, but it's something I've been making for a long time.  I originally got the recipe from a Betty Crocker  cookbook I received as a gift from friends many years ago.  Sad as it may be, I have made these stuffed pasta shells so many times that I have the recipe memorized.  The meat mixture with the cream cheese, taco sauce, onion, etc. is so delicious that it could be used as a topping for salads or to dip chips in.  Now the original recipe adds corn chips and green onions, which I do not.  I really can't answer why that is.  I probably made it many moons ago and forgot those items so I mentally omitted them from the recipe, but I'm sure it would taste so good.  Another minor difference, is the taco sauce used.  The original version says to use Old El Paso, but I have used both the mild and medium versions of the Ortega taco sauce for years.  I don't know how different the sauces are, but I know I love mine!  A great feature about this recipe, is that it can be made ahead of time and it still tastes the same.  While it doesn't take too long to just make it right away, it is nice to have the option with everyones busy schedules.

Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells

12 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (I usually add a couple more in case any tear apart)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 pound lean ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (usually I do a little more, maybe 2 or 2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 ounce package of cream cheese
3/4 cup taco sauce, divided
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup sour cream (this is an accompaniment to the dish and our house doesn't use this much since my husband uses Ranch instead)

  1. First things first, preheat your oven to 350°F and spray your pan. For this I use a 8x11 glass pan and it works perfectly.
  2. Cook your jumbo shells according to the package. When my water starts boiling I add a little olive oil just to be cautious so my shells don't stick together. I have done it without the oil and they turned out fine, but I would lose some because they got stuck and ripped. Torn shell=no filling staying inside it. My own personal tip, if you're not crunched for time, is to cook the shells and drain them in a colander before you start your meat mixture. This allows them to be a little cooler to the touch when your stuffing them. More often then not, I just deal with the heat, but it's great when you have help in the kitchen and want your sous chef(s) comfortable.
  3. Now time to start your meat mixture. If you haven't already chopped your onion, do so now and cook it with the ground beef on medium-high heat until done, about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain your meat. Usually for me, there isn't much to drain because I use lean ground beef.
  5. Turn your heat down to medium-low and add the chili powder, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup of the taco sauce. Stir until heated through and combined. I then taste the mixture to make sure nothing needs tweaked.
  6. Now to fill the shells. 2 Tablespoons is what the recipe says, but I just fill them up and still have plenty of the mixture leftover. As they are stuffed, place them in your already sprayed pan. As mentioned before, I use a rectangle pan which makes 4 nice rows of 3 perfectly.
  7. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of taco sauce, cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes.
  8. After the 20 minutes is up, remove the foil, place the shredded cheese on top and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Now just serve with sour cream, or Ranch for some, and enjoy!

I know you all know what a chopped onion looks like, but I wanted to show my Jokari bag holder.  It is inexpensive and comes in handy when you're by yourself and don't want to get the outside of the storage bag messy.  The "arms" lengthen to support various sizes and it folds flat to fit in your drawer.

A pre-baked shot, showcasing my Ortega taco sauce.  I love this sauce and use it frequently on so many of my meals.  (Pictured below, lettuce wraps with sour cream, black beans, cheese, and you guessed it......TACO SAUCE!!!!)

The finished product!  Obviously this is my plate since it has sour cream on it.

Last but not least, my husbands beverage of choice for this dinner.  He wanted to start trying the local beers so he went for this IPA.  It was brewed in New York at Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.  From the look on his face and the empty 6 pack, he must have enjoyed it, but I didn't sit down with him and get his personal review.  Maybe next time :)  

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Picture overload alert!!  (Remember I'm trying to cram.)  Fortunately for the sake of cramming I did not have the camera ready to go for our first dinner in, Simple Crockpot Chicken.  Usually I will post the recipe, but to keep it short, you can find it here!  As the name states, it is amazingly simple and is so delish.    

This was a photo taken of the Empire State Building from Hoboken, NJ.......a borough we have really come to enjoy.

Next up, we have a picture of my mandatory Starbucks with the famous cannoli and lobster tail from Carlo's Bakery.  It was so amazing and really filling!  We finally saw what all the hype was about, though the store was quite a bit smaller then we thought it would be.

Remember the dogs who the perform synchronized pee performance?  Well here those cute little things are.  They would never do anything bad right?  Stella is on top and she is an miniature Australian Shepherd.  And Bella is a black lab mix rescue dog.  For those of you wondering we did not plan for their names to rhyme, but it kind of rolls off the tongue.  Both are about to be 3 and are as crazy as ever.

Finally the truth is captured for everyone to see.  I'm not quite sure if this fits in with dog shaming or if it's a public service announcement for those that come by.  Needless to say.....YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!  

Trix Krispies

I apologize in advance for the multitude of posts this next week or so, but I have to catch everyone up with what we have been up to. Well the first week was quite an adventure to say the least. We got the keys to our new place on a Monday, after 2 days in a 2 door coupe with us, our dogs and whatever the movers wouldn't take with them. Needless to say, we were more then ready to step foot into what would be our new home. At this point we were both excited and nervous since we hadn't actually ever seen our place in person, only online.

When we pulled up, I immediately fell in love. Our place was so much nicer and bigger then the pictures portrayed, a rarity out this way. We were walking around admiring our new place and getting acclimated, when the dogs both peed on the floor like it was a synchronized effort.......GRRRR. Needless to say we had no cleaning supplies because there was no space in the car, so what better way to figure out your new borough. Plus the movers said they would be here on Tuesday, which was outstanding since Kevin was off. However, we needed to get an air mattress for the night.

We navigated to our nearest Wal-Mart and it was just as suspected, the crème de la crème of New Jersey. Not only are drivers really aggressive here, but give a woman a shopping cart and watch out, all bets are off. We learned quickly that to fit in we needed to give up our "Excuse me" and replace it with cutting people off, even in the grocers. We get out to the car and that's when we get THE CALL! The movers are now going to be here on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. No big deal right?!? Well my hubby was going back to work on Wednesday leaving me to deal with the movers and the two dogs myself (if you know anything about my dogs, they aren't the greatest when new people are around). I could feel the stress rising, but on Wednesday, much to my surprise, they only whined a little while the movers did there thing. Immediately I had to start unpacking and getting everything washed and put up so I could start taking advantage of our awesome new kitchen! That's when I decided to first make the Trix krispies. First of all, they are super simple, which is a major plus when you don't have everything quite in place yet, Secondly, neither I, nor my husband had ever had them so why not give it a shot.



13 ounce box Trix cereal
1/4 cup butter
10 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
  1. Grease your pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Add the marshmallows to melted butter on medium to low heat and stir until they are all melted and combined.
  4. Add the Trix cereal to marshmallows.
  5. Stir really well to coat.
  6. Pour into greased pan and press down.
  7. Let cool and cut into pieces!

*  The original site I got the recipe on suggested putting butter or water on your hands to prevent sticking when pressing it down.  I started using with the butter and smeared it all over my hand didn't work for me, I still had cereal and the marshmallow mixture clinging to my hands.  Next up was the water.  I was a little skeptical at first because I thought if the butter didn't work, then no way will water, but it did!  The water worked like a charm!  Below are my finished results, keep in mind I'm just a novice :).

I found the original recipe on this lovely blog called Raining Hot Coupons.