Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crescent Mummy Dogs

The kids saw this in the paper on Sunday in the coupon section for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and thought it would be fun to make. They were fun and easy and it is the first time I have made something like this where the kids actually ate the bread portion.

Ingredients (this the recipe cut in half- double for 10 hot dogs!)
1 4 oz can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered
5 large hot dogs

1. Heat over to 375

2. Unroll dough and separate at perforations creating 2 rectangles. Press perforations to seal.

3. With knife , cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 20 pieces of dough.

4. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around every hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages." stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On un-greased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs, cheese side down, spray dough lightly with cooking spray.

5. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard or ketchup, draw features on "face." Now with such a cute meal for the kids Life is Good!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Garlic Chicken

I have been making a ton of fun foods and just have not had time to post about them. I made this garlic chicken the other night and it was great. Not so much from the kids perspective but for me and my husband it was a good meal. I had nearly all the ingredients in my house when I decided to make it. I would have used more zucchini (since I didn't have enough green onions) as I prefer more vegetables to meat.

Garlic Chicken

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 whole medium chicken breasts 1 1/2 pounds total (skinned and boned)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
10 green onions, bias-cut into 1 inch pieces (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
1 medium zucchini
2 cups hot cooked rice

For marinade, in a bowl stir together water, soy sauce, white wine, and cornstarch. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Add chicken to marinade; stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving marinade.

Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat, add oil. (add more oil as necessary during cooking) Stir-fry green onions, mushrooms, and garlic in hot oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Remove from wok or skillet. Add zucchini and saute for 3 minutes. Remove from wok or skillet. Add chicken to wok or skillet; stir-fry for about 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Push chicken from the center of the wok or skillet. Stir reserved marinade, add to center of the wok or skillet. Cook and stir til thickened and bubbly. Add onion mixture, zucchini and water chestnuts. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until heated through. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Main ingredients

Chicken marinating

Cooking in the wok

Finished product

Here is a preview of some of the yummy things to come in my blog in the next few days.

Life is Sweet Cereal crunch (used this for my cinnamon life cereal)
Jalapeno cornbread
Crescent Mummy Dogs (huge hit with the kids!)

Now with all these predetermined blog posts my Life is Good!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cinnamon Life Cereal

I have a huge double box of Cinnamon Life cereal and I tasted Lucy's leftovers this morning (dry we don't put milk on our cereal in our house!) and it is so good. I forgot what it tasted like. I haven't had this cereal since I was a kid (probably since they were still running the ad I posted above!).

I want to make something with it but can only find one recipe on the web. I guess I need to go through some of my cookbooks but thought I would give a shout out to all of you foodies out there and see if you had any ideas. With fall supposedly making an appearance tomorrow something with this in it would be really yummy. So please help me out if you can.

Life is good whether I get a recipe or not as I am sure I can make something up!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tortellini Pasta Salad

This is my in a pinch go to side dish for cookouts, weekends, bring a dish for girls night, etc. It is so easy and really good. My kids love it too so that is a plus.

Tortellini Pasta Salad


2 bags cheese tortellini (tri color is great)
can sliced black olives
1 bottle lite creamy Caesar salad dressing (Newman's Own or Ken's)

Cook the tortellini according to the package. While the tortellini is cooking slice the pepperoni into small bites and chop the black olives. When the tortellini is cooked drain and place back in pot. Add the pepperoni and sliced olives. Add about 1/4 of the bottle of the salad dressing. Toss. See how it looks. Depending on how much you make you will use more or less. Place in container or bowl and serve now or refrigerate. After refrigeration add a little more salad dressing as it soaks in. It is great both warm and cold. I love this for a leftover dinner or lunch.

Enjoy and Life is Good!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

Congratulations Foodbuzz! This is so exciting and I am proud to be a part of it!


San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.

“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.

The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.

Global Blogging Event
Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:

· Mid-Autumn Festival Banquest (New York, NY)
· The "Found on Foodbuzz" 24-Item Tasting Menu (San Francisco, CA)
· Aussie BBQ Bonanza – Celebrating Diversity (Sydney, Australia)
· The Four Corners of Carolina BBQ Road Trip (Charleston, SC)
· Criminal Tastes – An Illegal Supper (Crested Butte, CO)
· From Matambre to Empanadas: An Argentine Dinner (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
· A Sweet Trompe l’oeil (Seattle, WA)

“24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”

About Foodbuzz, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site,, in 2007. In less than a year, and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

Contact: Allison Costello

Doug Collister

So go check out all the stuff that Foodbuzz has to offer and see what the many featured publishers are blogging about and cooking. You won't have to come up with your own idea for dinner again. Now with that thought...Life is Good!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baking for Breast Cancer Awareness

Ley at Cilantro and Lime is hosting Baking for Breast Cancer Awareness. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The event is to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. Ley is encouraging bloggers to bake and make others aware.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, it's estimated that About 178,480 women in the United States will be found to have invasive breast cancer in 2007. About 40,460 women will die from the disease this year. Right now there are slightly over 2 million women living in the United States who have been treated for breast cancer.

One of my best friends lost her mom to breast cancer. I never met her mom but feel that I somehow know her and her kindness through my dear friend Parrish. My friend is my sons Godmother. My daily prayer is that this will never happen to her. Through her, I have become more aware of breast cancer and I got my first mammogram at 35 and since I am so lucky to be over 40 (43 to be exact) I get a mammogram each year. They are easy and painless. I encourage anyone that is scared or too busy to bother to go get one. It could save your life.

Now I am not a baker as I have stated before but I did "bake" a portion of the dish. I made a roasted beet and goat cheese salad with shrimp cocktail and split an organic steak with my husband. I love fresh beets. I had never had them until a few months ago. I only thought they came in a can! I used a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis for a Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad but when I saw the beets yesterday at the grocery store I decided to make it not knowing what else I had. I knew I had goat cheese and knew I also had some type of organic lettuce but was short a few of the other ingredients so I made it my own. I will post the recipe for the original salad as it is so good but know that I did not have arugula and used a spring mix of lettuce, no walnuts so used pecans and instead of making the homemade dressing since I didn't have any balsamic vinegar I used a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. I also did not have any avocado or shallots. My version was tasty but the original is awesome.

The beets are red and their cooking juice is red/pink! They are so healthy and are said to fight cancer and birth defects.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
6 cups fresh arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
, coarsely crumbled


The original recipe does not tell you how to cook the beets. Wash them and cut off most of the stems leaving the top and bottom on the beet (this will keep more nutrients in it - just learned that now while googling beets so I did not do that!) Place in pot and cover with water, bring to boil and cook for 40-50 minutes. Take beets out of water and run them under cold water and while doing this rub your hands over them and the skin will peel right off.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Now if we could find a cure for breast cancer life would be really good but in the meantime if we can educated enough people to be aware then Life is Good!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A few cooking secrets & household secrets

Last night I did NOT want to cook. Husband offered to do take out but I opted to throw something together. I did the chicken sausage with some ravioli for the kids.

Sausage cooking secret - I saw a part of a Rachael Ray episode a few weeks back and she was cooking sausage. She put some water in the pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and when the water evaporated the sausage were basically cooked and then the olive oil in the pan browned them. The did not burn. My house did not smell awful and it was a super trick. I have now used it twice and it works great! Can't believe I didn't know that.

Hard boiled egg secret - I also saw this on Food Network a few years ago. It was the 2 guys that won the first season of next Food Network Star. When making hard boiled eggs, after cooking drain the hot water and fill with cold water and ice and add a splash of vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes and then when you peel them the skins will peel right off! Amazing. Can't believe I didn't know this one either.

Olive oil and greasy food stains - before washing put some regular Dawn dishwashing liquid and put it on the stain. rub together and then wash. the stain will come out. Even if you have washed the item many times it still works.

Sour smelling laundry - if you accidently leave the clothes in the washing machine overnight start the load again the next morning and add some white vinegar and laundry detergent. The vinegar will take out the sour smell. Works like a charm!

Hope these tips are helpful. If you have any pass them on to me. Life is Good!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Real Sicilian Meatloaf

Where has the time gone. Last week flew by in a world wind of me trying to get the house ready and menu planning for a surprise dinner party for my husband's 40th birthday. He turns 40 on Saturday but is taking the kids to Charlotte with one of his best buds and his kids. (they were born on the same day in the same hospital and that is how their moms met and he is now my daughters Godchild and husband to Under the Red Tin Roof! Hiya Anne!).

I was going to make the meatloaf for Friday night but my husband thought there was only going to be one other couple for dinner and he wanted a new grill for his birthday so I bit the bullet and bought him a new grill and I got steaks for the dinner party and paired them with a spinach salad that a friend makes and will not give out the recipe and also had the brussel sprouts that I talked about last week. They are so good and who ever knew that so many people actually like brussel sprouts. Such an under appreciated veggie!!!

I did a fall inspired table with little metal buckets that were silver, black and orange and I put votive candles in them. For the place cards I printed each persons name so it was curved (think top half of a circle) and did the men in black and the women in orange. My dinner plates were see through and I placed the name cards under the plates. I thought it was clever! Needless to say I had bought the ingredients for the meatloaf of Thursday before changing to steaks on Friday so I had to make it. We had a traditional Italian Sunday dinner with the meatloaf on Sunday night (with leftover brussel sprouts!). This is the first time in a long time I have actually had the meatloaf with red meat in probably a year! YUM-O is all I can say.

As for this week I have been bogged down with Halloween carnival planning at my son's preschool and yesterday was his trip to the pumpkin patch. It was fun and when the sun was behind a cloud there was a chill in the air!

Sicilian Meatloaf
2 lbs ground beef
bread crumbs
2-3 eggs
grated Parmesan cheese
ketchup or tomato paste
Italian seasonings
salt and pepper to taste
4-8 thin slices prosciutto
6 slices of provolone cheese
3-6 bacon slices

In a bowl combine ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan cheese, ketchup/tomato paste and seasonings and mix. If too moist add more bread crumbs. If too dry add more egg and/or more ketchup/tomato paste. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with Pam.

put the meat on the cookie sheet and and spread out to fill it up.

Place the prosciutto and provolone cheese on top of the meat.

With the longest end of the cookie sheet facing you, grab the edge of the tin foil and pull up and start to roll the meatloaf like a jelly roll. When the meatloaf is rolled pinch the ends and the long seam and roll it so the seam is on the bottom.

Weave the bacon over the top (I didn't have any bacon so I used prosciutto which actually turned out good!)

Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes (until meat is cooked thoroughly). Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Manga!

Now with a crisp in the air and hearty food like this Life is Good!

Cambridge at the Pumpkin Patch 10.07.08

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Greek Stuffed Peppers & Chicken Sausage

Does it seem there is a Greek theme this week? Lots of Greek inspired foods but I am an American of Italian descent but know there is a tiny tiny itsy bitsy piece of Greek in me somewhere (which would explain why I ate my weight in Feta cheese during my pregnancy with my son!). Last nights dinner, again, came from Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. Have I said how much I love this little book that comes about every 6 weeks? (and no they Martha Stewart is not paying me for all this free advertising!) The recipes are so easy and, most of the time, really good. And if they don't look "to my taste" I don't make them. The most recent issue had a whole section on crockpot foods and that is where the stuffed peppers were. Who knew it could be so easy and so good and I didn't use any oil to cook them, just sprayed the inner liner of the Crockpot with Pam. There was really no difference (although my great aunt Sue's were awesome and hers were cooked in loads of olive oil!) from a regular stuffed pepper and the stuffing was so different and just plain ole yummy!

I paired these with a chicken, spinach, fontina cheese and roasted garlic sausage. I got these at Costco, Han's All Natural Gourmet Sausage and they have no antibiotics, no added growth hormones no MSG, nitrites, or nitrates and they are gluten free (not that we eat a gluten free diet but I love the no nitrites and nitrates). These are so good and only 3 Weight Watcher points each. My son ate 3! YIKES. I only ate 1.

Now I must admit, I am an awful food photographer. I don't know how some people get such great pictures of their food. It could also be the quality of the camera (I have a good one but not a great one). And....I had 2 glasses of wine while cooking dinner so I only have before pictures and no pictures of the actual food right before we ate it! But suffice it to say the Crockpot cooked the peppers to perfection. I also stuffed a tomatoe as the reciped was to stuff 4 peppers and I only had 2 so I had extra stuffing and used a yellow tomatoe. It looks great as well and will be my lunch today.

Greek Stuffed Peppers
Recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, October 2008

Serves 4
4 large bell peppers
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/2 cup couscous (uncooked - they did not say this in the recipe but it was assumption and is correct!)
4 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced (I did not have these and didn't miss them)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.

To bowl, add beans, feta, couscous (uncooked), scallion whites, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours. (I cooked on low for 6+ hours.)

Sprinkle peppers with scallion greens; serve with lemon wedges.

Stuffed peppers prior to cooking (ding bat forgot the after photo!)

Again these are great. Low fat, high fiber and again with the beans! The addition of the chicken sausage was great. Now after a meal like this and a morning filled with 4-year olds hugging me and asking me to read them stories... Life is Really Good!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Giant Greek(?) Beans

Have any of you had these giant beans? They look like lima beans (or sieva beans (pronounced sivvy) as they call them in the south) on steroids. My sister brought a jar of them on vacation this summer and they had a skin on them. They were in a brine. I can't remember what they were called but they were good. Then yesterday I am in the grocery store and at the olive bar they have them. They were marinated in a bit of olive oil with roasted red peppers and some spices but are oh so good. Not sure what to do with them other than to snack on them or add a few to a salad? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

I googled the term giant beans and colossal beans and the only thing I could find was giant Greek beans, hence the title. Today I am working in my son's preschool class as it is picture day so I expect a crazy morning. Now with a bunch of 4-year olds dressed their best and beans this tasty Life is Good!

Spinach and prosciutto lasagna & a whole lotta nothing

I a so busy this week! I am in charge of the Halloween carnival at my son's preschool and I am hosting a dinner party this weekend. (I need to come up with a menu YIKES!). I am also in the starting stages of a home remodel! We are tearing out our floors downstairs and also redoing the kitchen! My dream. The cabinet guy is coming over this morning to measure the kitchen. We picked out our floor wood color but might change it depending on the cabinets and counter tops we choose. I also replaced the 2 ceiling fans in our downstairs family room with these beautiful wood ones that has blades that look like large leaves! My house is finally starting to come together and we have only lived here 4+ years.

Last night I made a recipe from the most recent Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. I love this magazine and have made many things from it. Me and my husband loved this but the kids picked out the spinach. The love lots of veggies but apparently spinach is not one of them. My son thought it was celery and ate a good portion but my daughter did the tongue out gag from the texture. Makes a mom/cook feel real good when that happens (sarcasm!).

While I thought it was good I would make it again, I would make it without the prosciutto the next time. You could not taste the prosciutto and therefore, to me, makes it a waste of calories and money. I served this with a side salad of arugul with very thin sliced red onion, dried cranberries and a tiny bit of goat cheese with balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of olive oil. The salad was awesome!

Spinach and Prosciutto Lasagna
Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine Issue 65, October 2008

It is important to squeeze the spinach dry, or the lasagna may be watery
2 packages (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta
1 garlic clove, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 1/2 cups jarred tomato sauce
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (4 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Make filling: In a medium bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; set aside. In another bowl, stir together tomato sauce and prosciutto

2. in an 8-inch square baking dish, spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Layer 2 noodles, 1/3 filling, and 1/3 remaining tomato sauce; repeat twice. Top with mozzarella. Bake until brown 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

There are so many good recipes in this magazine. Tomorrow night I am making the crock pot stuffed peppers (have cous cous in the stuffing and sound good and easy. I will let you know!)

My life is extremely busy right now but regardless, Life is Good!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ode to other food blogs and fellow foodies

We ate baked chicken last night that I stuffed with an onion and about 4 large stalks of rosemary. It was divine. No pictures. Nothing exciting. But I highly recommend using stalks of rosemary for chicken stuffing and with roasting potatoes. Next time I make them I will photograph and write the recipes.

Today I am listing some great blogs I have found recently. Blogs I found because they either visited me or someone exited their page and came to my blog. I am just beside myself with the traffic I have received from Foodbuzz and the Foodie Blogroll and the fact that I was a random contest winner was a bonus for traffic. Oh and someone from Martha Stewart Living visited but they were searching to see who had used the term Everyday Food. Hoping they liked what they saw!

The Hungry Housewife - check out the cute kid friendly stuff

Chez LaFleur in Manhattan - the chicken tortilla soup and she had a post on the Feast of San Gennaro festival. Oh how I miss living where there are other Italians!

Daily Deliciousness - for the love of French onion soup!

The Sporadic Cook - my kind of food!

Cara's Cravings - check out the perfect little cupcake pops! They are too cute.

Cooking in the Heartland - She is also getting in shape so I don't have to be the only food blogger that is trying to slim down!

Elegantly Domesticated - I Pray to Gouda- anyone with an addiction to cheese is a friend of mine.

And many more. Those are just a few of the great blogs that people were reading before they came to my blog.

Life is Good!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Penne Puttanesca & Brussel Sprouts

I had friends over for dinner last night so the only photo I have is of the ingredients before I started cooking! We drank perseco (Italian champaign) and a nice Chiani and by the time dinner was ready pictures had slipped my mind.

Dinner was awesome. The penne puttanesca is a recipe from a friend that was actually eating with us last night. It is my sons Godfather. He is a incredible cook and used to come over and make this for us until I made him give me the recipe and I have been doing the cooking ever since. It is messy and I prefer to clean up as I go and when he would come over the dishes would pile up and it would be a long cleanup after dinner. Talk about beggars being choosers! I do appreciate when someone comes into my house to cook. Love it. But since I can make the meal just as good and clean up along the way I am somehow happier.

The brussel sprouts are probably the best that I have ever had. I got them from Judy at No Fear Entertaining but she adapted the recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen. Click on either of their names to get the recipe. They were awesome and I recommend them to anyone whether you like brussel sprouts or not!

Uncle Trey's Penne Puttanesca

1lb pasta
3tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 medium white onion (small/medium dice)
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup capers (straine)
1/4cup kalamata olives (strained, pitted, rough chopped)
2-28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes (chopped) -reserve liquid
3 anchovy fillets (I use the whole can!)
1 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

Heat big saute pan to medium high add EVOO and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and anchovy fillets (I put them in the food processor for a quick spin first since I use the whole can) continue sauteing (I'm sure that is a word) until anchovies have dissolved and onions are transluscent. Reduce heat tomedum/medium low and add liquid from can tomatoes - reduce liquid by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Add crushd red pepper lakes, kalamata olives, capers and chopped tomatoes. Reduce again by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup white wine (obviously any kind will wok) - redce again by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to tast.

Boil noodles to al dente. Before straining pasta add 1/4-1/2 cup of noodle water to tomato sauce andstir to incorporate. Strain pasta and add to sauce - lightly coss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmagianno regianno.

Share/Eat/Enjoy...Now Life is Good! Manga!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pork Chops Alla Pizzaiolla

I wanted to try a new recipe last night from my new issue of Everyday Food but did not leave the house (thank heaven for car pools) so I went with an old standard with ingredients I had on hand. What I came up with was pork chops alla pizzaiolla. The first time I made this was a few years ago as I had seen Giada DeLaurentis make it on The Food Network. It is so easy and good and actually low in fat and calories. I had a baby green salad on the side and it was a satisfying dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin center-cut chops (about 12 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in juice
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until they are brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted horizontally into the pork registers 160 degrees F, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Add the onion to the same skillet and saute over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices, herbes de Provence, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend and the juices thicken slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and more red pepper flakes.

Return the pork chops and any accumulated juices from the plate to the skillet and turn the pork chops to coat with the sauce. Place 1 pork chop on each plate. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Oops I took the picture before I sprinkled the oregano and a little fresh parmagianno reggiano on top. My husband ate 2! I am an awful food photographer but a wonderful cook! Tonight I am making penne puttanesca with these brussel sprouts I got from Judy at No Fear Entertaining. Although for some reason I thought there was bacon in them and decided on pancetta but now that I am actually printing the recipe I see I was wrong. I will let you know how it all goes. Now Life is Good!

My little helper in his apron!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Refried bean quesadilla & vinegar peppers

Am I the only one that loves beans? Beans glorious beans. Dried beans, canned beans, fresh beans. Black beans, kidney beans, canellini beans, chick peas (I consider these a bean!), refried beans. I have many cans and bags of beans in my cabinet (leftover hurricane supplies) and I am so lucky that my regular grocery store, Harris Teeter, now carries their HT Natural organic store brand, so they are more cost effective on a tight budget.

I am still counting Weight Watchers points and I was starving today as I didn't really eat dinner last night since I had to go for a SCUBA refresher course in order to dive with the dive operation that the Disney Cruise uses. Since I haven't done any diving since I started having children I had to go and spend 2 hours in the pool with a dive instructor going over the basics of SCUBA diving. It was fun but I did not bring my wet suit and only had on a thin skin suit and by the end of the evening I was freezing in the 82 degree water. Oh back to me being starving.

I am looking in my kitchen for something to eat for lunch and still have tortillas and I had a small amount of lowfat cheese and then the can of refried beans started calling me. Linda how about us! We would be great on a quesadilla! So I caved in. I opened the can of refried beans, could have just eaten the whole can of beans for lunch but I am sure my stomach would have been yelling at me later! I put the tortilla in the hot pan and put the cheese on it, I should have spread the beans on it like peanut butter as I think it would have been smoother and cleaner, but I put some refried beans and then about 2 tablespoons of low fat organic ground beef that I browned the other night and then I put 3 vinegar peppers, didn't have a jalapenos.

It was soooo good. Creamy and gooey and healthy. A very filling lunch (I didn't eat the whole thing!) and I imagine I won't have to eat again all day but since I am trying a new recipe for dinner I guess I will force myself later on!

Now on to the vinegar peppers. I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Judy at No Fear Entertaining and she mentioned that before she had met her husband she had never had rice and gravy and that Jenn The Leftover Queen had never had it as well. I confess. Before I met my southern husband I had never had rice and gravy. I actually had never had white rice except with Chinese food. We were Italian. We never ate rice. It was a real treat about once a year we got Rice A Roni (the San Francisco treat - can't say that product without the song coming into my head which is why I think we thought we liked it as kids) which in all honesty is not really rice. So if I do make rice it is a must to make gravy.

I digress, the other southern thing that my husband must always have is vinegar and peppers. He eats them with everything. Every year we grow peppers and every year he sticks them in vinegar and then eats from the jars all year! He even eats them with my Italian food. But they are actually very tasty. I use them instead of jalapenos (although last year we grew jalapenos and I miss them this year :-() in some recipes and if we are having Mexican inspired food I will eat them. It truly is simple.

Vinegar Peppers

Clean the peppers
Place peppers in a large top jar (so you can get them out easily)
cover with vinegar
Place in pantry for a few weeks so that they can soak up the vinegar and then start eating them. Once we start eating them I place ours in the refrigerator. Not sure why as vinegar is not refrigerated but it just seems right.

Now with stick to your ribs healthy food Life is Good!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Very Berry Bread & Foodie Blogroll Contest Winner

Wow! I got home last night from open house at the boys preschool and in my inbox was an email from the people at Foodie Blogroll that I had randomly won the new member of the week contest. I am getting a button in the mail and they sent the cute little picture that is on the side. I will be featured on the site for an entire week! What an awesome site Foodbuzz is and a great way to check out other food blogs. I have already made 2 recipes I found from people that exited a page and came to my blog by clicking on the Foodie Blogroll. I feel lucky now!!!

Yesterday I went through my pantry and had 2 boxes of Fiber One Cinnamon Apple muffin mix. I got them at buy one get one free and it was triple coupons and I had 2 separate $0.75 coupons so basically store paid me to take them off their hands. Now I am a muffin from scratch kind of gal, Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book is what I use for my favorite muffin/breakfast bread recipe, but I had to go out last night so I knew I didn't have too much extra time. I also had a no sugar added individual serving of apple sauce and knew I could use that instead of oil to make it lower in fat and healthier (I am all about substituting good for bad.)

I used the recipe on the box but instead of oil I decreased the water to a 1/2 cup and added 1/4 cup of apple sauce (well I doubled the recipe but the measurements above are for one box!) and instead of 2 eggs I used 2 egg whites (no Weight Watchers points in egg whites!). When I had all the ingredients in the bowl, I mixed them together and added dried blueberries, dried cranberries, raisins and 1/4 cup of bran (for extra fiber!). Yummo. These turned out so good. I made 2 small loaves and 1large loaf and for 2 points can have a nice slice of the bread and get the internal body working in the morning. And the best part is that my daughter ate a piece for dessert last night. She will only eat "very berry bread" and I told her that is what it was and she was a happy camper!

Now when your child has such a healthy low fat dessert Life is Good! But yikes I need to get my butcher block sanded!!!

My all time favorite cook book for the basics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Last night I made a recipe that I found on another blog. I found Wholesome Feasts through my statcounter as someone had clicked on my name in the Foodie Blogroll and come to check out my blog. The meal was awesome. So low fat and low in Weight Watchers points and so yummy, if you like spicy. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs were easy to make and the blogger said she got the recipe from a Rachael Ray cookbook. Not sure which one. I served it with celery and reduced fat blue cheese salad dressing and black beans and rice. (My husband always needs a starch and since it was so low in points I figured I would add some low fat rice with high fiber black beans!).

You can either click on Wholesome Feasts link above or I have included the recipe below.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (italicized words are my comments)

1 pound ground white meat chicken (I used Smart Chicken which is my favorite! 99% fat free)
1/2 small onion,grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s) (I used Frank's as this is one of my favorites as well)
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken with the onion, garlic and parsley, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a small ice cream scoop (I shaped them by hand), shape meat into balls. Arrange the meatballs on a nonstick sheet pan and drizzle them with EVOO. Place in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. While the meatballs are baking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the hot sauce and whisk to combine. Toss the baked meatballs in the hot sauce to coat. Serve with celery and blue cheese (I used blue cheese dressing).

I cheated on the black beans and rice and used Zataran's as I had the box in my pantry. It was good. Not a fan of boxed rices and pastas but in a pinch this was excellent. I did put vinegar peppers with the rice to give it an extra oomph and some additional flavors.

Now I still have all those hot peppers and wondering what to do with them!

After a great easy meal like that Life is Good!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkey Rollups & Hot Peppers

Today I power walked 6 miles back and forth over the Cooper River Bridge. I did not eat before I left. Needless to say when I got home from picking up the boy from school I was starving. I really was ready to eat my shoe! I looked in the fridge and saw I had some turkey, Sargento reduced fat provolone cheese (1 Weight Watcher point each!) and some tortillas and thought, hmmm maybe I could make those little roll up sandwiches that were at a kids birthday party this weekend.

I took the tortilla and smeared the tiniest bit of reduced fat Dukes Mayonnaise on it (to keep it together) and took 2 slices of turkey, a slice of cheese and some organic mesclun greens that I had. I rolled it up and smooshed it (to keep it together) and then cut it into 3/4 - 1 inch thick slices. I put some mustard on the side to dip it in and it was actually very filling. I enjoyed it.

Last night I made a recipe that I found on another blog. It was good but was not pretty so that is why you are not hearing about that. Tonight I am also trying a recipe I got from another blog and will let you know how it goes. The blogger told me that she got it from a Rachael Ray cookbook. It looks interested. Tune in tomorrow!!!

Now who can tell me what to do with all these hot peppers? Do I dry them and then put them in the spice grinder for sprinkling on food in the future? We have way too many bottles of vinegar with hot peppers (my husband is southern so this accompanies every meal he eats - I am the only yankee in the family!) so I am left with a bunch of these that I don't want to go bad.

I also have a Thai pepper plant in the backyard and not sure what to do with those. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. And why do these peppers grow up?

Oh and for a little comedy, this blue crab was stuck through the mail slot of my parents front door in downtown Charleston on Friday night! I went there on Saturday morning (after a kids birthday party) to get something for them, as they are out of town until the end of the month, and there in the front hallway was this little blue crab. Can't imagine what the house would have smelled like if I didn't go down there. So I imagine my dad is glad he forgot the power cord to his computer and had me send it to him.
That is another reason that Life is Good

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foodbuzz and Foodie Blogroll

WOW! I am so excited. My blog was accepted for the Foodie Blogroll by Foodbuzz. I am so honored! Today my blog is listed in the most recent 5 blogs! Make sure to check out the other blogs on the list. They are great.

My traffic has increased tremendously due to this listing! I am so happy that people around the world are able to see what I have to cook for them.

To all my new readers and visitors, welcome! I hope you come back to enjoy the food I cook. I enjoy cooking almost as much as I enjoy talking! It is a passion that I got from my mother who is probably the best cook I know.

Enjoy your weekend and I will be back on Monday with something new.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cannelini Beans & Meat Sauce

Ok so I am trying t lose 8 pounds before we go on our big Disney Cruise in November. When I eat only 6 points during the day my brain is a little foggy and I truly come up with crazy ideas for things to eat.

Yesterday I was emailing with a friend about recipes and she indicated she had something in her crockpot and I thought "mmmmm it would be great to have a nice smelling crockpot house." So I went to the freezer and found some ground buffalo (you can use ground beef) and it is so lean and organic and I love this stuff and some italian sausage that came from the butcher. I browned the ground meat and sausage and in the crockpot put 2 jars of pasta sauce (yes people sometimes I use jars, although only when not entertaining) and then added the meat. I did not put any onions or other things as then the kids won't eat it. I cooked that all day. Oh and I used the Reynolds Slow Cooker liners and these are the greatest invention in the world!

I also had a bag of dried cannelini beans and thought "rather than eat pasta how about beans!" Great fiber, low fat! Again what was I thinking. So I cleaned the beans and placed them in about 6 cups of water with chopped onion, a raw sausage, and salt and pepper to taste. I brought it to a boil and then simmered for about 3 hours.

Can I tell you how divine my house smelled? My house smelled divine!!

I made whole wheat penne pasta with fresh mozzarella for the kids as I know they wouldn't eat the beans.

Originally I was going to eat the beans and just have a dollop of the sauce on the side but instead I put the sauce in the middle of the beans with a small slice of fresh mozzarella and it was really good. See what the brain does when it is in diet mode!!

I had 2 satisfied customers, see the sauce all over their faces? And really that is what it is all about. Now Life is Good!

Disclaimer: Both pictures of the children were taken by 6 year old and her self portrait was taken upside down!

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