Mar 272017
 

News flash – cookout season is coming! With the warm weather heading our way, most of us will be coming out of hibernation and that means cookouts, cookouts and more cookouts. We host plenty of them at our house and will get invited to equally as many over the course of the summer. Whenever I get invited to one, I always volunteer to bring my quick and easy Italian Pasta Salad.  It’s so easy to make and it’s always a hit.

Italian Pasta Salad

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 (12 ounce) box of pasta I used the Tri Color Rotini
  • 1 package of Pepperoni Minis (0r buy full size and cut into fours)
  • 1 8-ounce mozzarella
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 can of sliced black olives
  • 2-3 tomatoes (or buy the grape tomatoes and cut in half)
  • 1 bottle of Italian dressing (we like Wishbone brand)

Continue reading »

Mar 192017
 

I end up volunteering to bring desserts a lot when we have family dinners because I know that I can whip up a bark recipe and everyone will be really happy to see me walk in the door with it. Actually, a lot of people request it and when there is a holiday coming up, I try to get as festive as possible. This Jellybean Bark that I came up with for Easter dinner fits the festive bill and if your family is anything like mine, it will go like hot cakes. Plus it’s super easy to make and the best part is that you only need a few ingredients to make it.

If you signed up to bring dessert to Easter dinner this year, why not make this Jellybean Bark?

Jellybean Bark

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups white candy melts
  • Jellybeans
  • Easter sprinkles
  • Edible Easter grass

You will also need:
Continue reading »

Mar 142017
 

When I was a kid, as soon as I got home from school there was always a snack there waiting for me.  My mom loved to bake and nine times out of ten, my after-school snack was a delicious homemade treat.  Now that I am the mom, I like to do the same for my boys and I get especially giddy when there’s a holiday coming up because that means I can make fun themed treats for them.

There’s no shortage of St. Patrick’s Day treat recipes out there, but I found quite a few good ones and have a nice collection of them for you here today. I am going to make it my mission to make everything on this list for my boys. And for the record, I’m making all of the ones that use Lucky Charms as one of the ingredients first because that is just plain awesome.

St. Patrick’s Day Desserts and Treats:

Gold Coins
http://www.lovethispic.com/image/242751/use-edible-gold-to-spray-on-oreos-to-make-gold-coins-on-st-patricks-day

St Patrick’s Day Oreos
http://happybrownhouse.com/st-patricks-day-oreos/#_a5y_p=5071250

Lucky Charm Munch
http://deliciouslysprinkled.com/lucky-charms-munch/

Cake Batter Brownies
http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/2015/03/04/cake-batter-blondies-2/

Shamrock Parfait
http://merlotmommy.com/st-patricks-day-parfaits/?utm_content=bufferfaf10&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer Continue reading »

Mar 132017
 

There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.

Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.

The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes. Continue reading »

Mar 072017
 

If you haven’t seen the hype of Instant Pots around the internet, you are missing out! This nifty kitchen gadget can help you simplify your time in the kitchen. Instead of having a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and saute pan, you can have an Instant Pot! This tool handles many tasks that other appliances do just in one simple cooking option. If you are ready to make the switch to an Instant Pot, here is what you need to know.

Instant Pot Starter Guide

Just what exactly is PSI conversion? One of the questions that pressure cookers users have about Instant Pots is how to convert recipes to your Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have specific recipe instructions, and it is possible to convert those to the Instant Pot. This is perfect for your family, especially if you have children in your home and you are worried about having a pressure cooker.

PSI conversion may sound difficult, but it is pretty simple. Just remember that the typical pressure cooker works at 15 PSI while the Instant Pot works at 11. What does that mean for you? Converting the recipes will result in a longer cook time in the Instant Pot. Cook them for just a few extra minutes longer if the recipe is meatless. Continue reading »

Mar 052017
 

Truth be told, I am not big on eating breakfast. Food doesn’t sit well with me until at least two hours after I wake up, so it’s hard for me to eat before 9 am.  I know it’s important to eat in the morning and that is where I developed my love of smoothies. Being a busy mom on the go, I can’t leave for the day without putting something in my tummy and smoothies are perfect because they are not overly heavy. One of my favorites is this healthy Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie.  It’s satisfying, filling and I love that it sticks with me all morning long so that my tummy isn’t rumbling around 11 am! How embarrassing. Plus smoothies are super easy to make, so you can whip one up in a jiffy and be out the door in no time.

Healthy Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

Serves: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes Continue reading »

Feb 262017
 

If you’re looking for an easy, fun snack idea for St. Patrick’s Day, this recipe for Leprechaun Bark aught to do it.  It’s colorful and has a great mix of flavors in every bite. My kids love when I make this for them and yours will, too. Leprechaun bark makes a great after-school snack or pack it up and save it for dessert after your boiled dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.  Either way, it’s sure to be a big hit.

Leprechaun Bark

Continue reading »

Feb 192017
 

When I was a kid, I feel like I barely heard about St. Patrick’s Day. Sure there is a big parade in Boston (that my parents never took me to see despite my incessant begging) and in school we’d all wear green – but that was about it. It seems like as the years have passed, this “holiday” has picked up steam and nowadays, people go all out. So I am jumping on the bandwagon, too! I decided to make some Minty M&M Cookies, which are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day because of the colors of the M&M’s! And c’mon, who doesn’t love a warm M&M cookie right out of the oven? Yummers.

Anyhow, they are super easy to make and will make for a nice surprise for the kiddos one day when they get off the bus.

Here’s what you need: Continue reading »

Feb 082017
 

I love brunching, don’t you?  There is just something special about that mid-morning meal that tends to bring people together to share a meal and quality time with friends and family. I recently had a chance to try brunch at Lincoln Tavern in South Boston and the best part is that I got to experience their brunch test kitchen the day I was there.

Lincoln is one of the city’s most sought after brunch destinations on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm), but Chef Nicholas Dixon and his team also do a Brunch Test Kitchen menu every Friday from 10:00AM – 3:00PM. Each week the Brunch Test Kitchen features a new line-up of off menu items that are potential contenders to join Lincoln Tavern’s already award winning brunch line up. Think: Nutella S’mores Pancakes that are super stacked chocolate chip and marshmallow pancakes with layers of Nutella, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs, Fried Chicken & Cheddar Biscuits with sausage gravy and quail egg, a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, fireball and rumchata…..you see where I’m going with this.

Located in the heart of South Boston, Lincoln is a classic American tavern that offers guests a welcoming combination of home-spun, American fare alongside a wide variety of rustic, wood-fire-grilled specialties.

Built with the intention of being a comfortable meeting spot for locals looking to share stories at the end of their long day, Lincoln draws inspiration from its surrounding, hard-working, and uniquely American neighborhood. Continue reading »

Feb 042017
 

I got a request the other day to make some Snickerdoodle cookies, so like a good mom – I obliged. Apparently my son had gotten some as a “snack” in the lunchroom the other day and needed more immediately.  I can’t blame him at all!  I whipped up these soft and chewy snickerdoodle cookies the other day because that’s how we like our cookies in our house: soft and chewy.

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies:

Continue reading »

Feb 012017
 

Are you all ready for the big game on Sunday? As you probably guessed, we’re BIG Pats fans here in our house, but no matter who you are routing for – game day just isn’t complete without an array of delicious foods. My family is going all out this year because we’re anticipating a big win, so that means we need to have more celebratory snacks on hand than we would if the Patriots weren’t playing. But who am I kidding, when it comes to food, we always go all out.

I will be spending the day cooking and baking in preparation of the game on Sunday, so I have been busy scouring the internet for awesome recipes. There are lots of great recipes to choose from out there and here are some of the ones that caught my eye:

Mozzarella Stick Onion Rings
https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/mozzarella-stick-onion-rings?utm_term=.yl3D1ABZZ#.qlxyNqkxx

Football Puppy Chow
http://thefirstyearblog.stfi.re/football-puppy-chow/?sf=rgrvwna

Mashed Potato Bacon Bombs
http://www.ohbiteit.com/2015/11/mashed-potato-bacon-bombs.html

Parmesan Potato Wedges
http://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/baked-garlic-parmesan-potato-wedges/ Continue reading »

Jan 292017
 

Even though I prepare for mornings the night before, I always seem to feel like I’m scrambling to get myself and the kids out the door to school in the mornings. I often wonder why that is, but whatever the case may be – it happens. A lot. Sometimes I have things in the house that I can just grab and eat on the go, but sometimes I don’t. During those times when I don’t have anything that I can grab for myself real quick, I make myself an easy & delicious Broccoli and Cheese Omelette in a Mug.  That’s right – you make the omelette right in a mug. They are wicked easy to make and only take a few minutes from start to finish. And since you make them in the microwave, you don’t have to worry about dirtying a pan – your mug is the only thing you’ll have to clean. Score.

I use broccoli and cheese in my omelettes because that is what I like, but you can add any filling you like in your omelettes to yours. Continue reading »

Jan 162017
 

Trying to get your kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables is about as tricky as, well, trying to get a young kid to eat their fruits and vegetables. That’s why smoothies can be the ideal way to conceal the food that’s nutritious for them while giving them their daily intake of fruits and vegetables in a form that almost feels like a desert.

In broad terms, smoothies can run the gamut of flavors and ingredients so it is best to begin with something simple. Try starting your kids off with a pure fruits and yogurt yogurt mixture and work your way to more complicated recipes from there. Green smoothies can be filled with essential nutrients and can be extremely tasty, they may not be the best option for kids who still make dramatic faces overtime they look at broccoli.

A simple recipe to start them off would include frozen strawberries, a banana, and vanilla or plain yogurt. Once they get accustomed to the the basic flavor and texture of those smoothies, you could slowly start reducing the sugar and use a healthier vanilla yogurt instead of the plain yogurt. At this point, you can also start adding additional ingredients, such as blueberries or mangos, a little at a time without drastically altering the overall taste. Continue reading »

Jan 152017
 

My kids and husband are my entire world, but food will always be my first love.  I grew up in a big Italian family and boy did we eat. On Sundays it was course after course after course – we literally would spend the whole day eating. And it was awesome. Now that I’m the mom, I am a little more sensible about the way I eat, but I still love to eat and I especially love dessert. I have a major sweet tooth and red velvet is one of my all times favorites.

If you know me in real life, you know that I don’t participate in Valentine’s Day, but there is no reason that I can’t make an exception for some of these red velvet treats. I would make any one of these red velvet desserts my valentine any day. Have a look at what I’m drooling over:

Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies from Tammilee Tips

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies from Tales of a Ranting Ginger

Red Velvet Cookies from Viva Veltoro

Red Velvet Cookie Recipe from Not Quite Susie Homemaker

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies from Diary of a Working Mom

Easy Red Velvet Cookies Recipe from A Magical Mess Continue reading »

Jan 082017
 

My boys are basically obsessed with anything emoji related. They both got a bunch of emoji paraphernalia for Christmas and I think for both of them, the emoji gifts that they received rank highest among their favorites. Especially those poop emoji slippers that my little man got….

The emoji obsession in my house got me thinking. I wanted to make a fun snack for my boys that was emoji related and then it hit me – Valentine’s Day is coming up and the heart eyes emoji would be PERFECT to put on Rice Krispie Treats. If you are looking for a fun Valentine’s Day treat, you seriously don’t have to look any further than these Emoji Rice Krispie Treats. They are really easy to make and trust me, they will be a huge hit with your kids like they were with mine.

Here’s what you need:

  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4.5 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • Yellow food coloring
  • 1 cup red Wilton candy melts
  • Black sparkle gel icing

Continue reading »

Dec 272016
 

For healthy weight loss to occur we need to reduce our intake of calories which means we should focus on eating foods that are high in nutrients, but lower in calories. If they taste great and can satisfy our biological hunger, that’s even better. That’s why smoothies are the perfect “meal” when you are trying to eat healthier while dropping a few pounds.

Here are just a few ways that incorporating smoothies into our daily diet can help us reach our nutritional goals:

How Smoothies Can Help You Eat Better And Lose Weight

Smoothies are Packed with Nutrients: You can pack a lot of nutrients in your smoothies with ingredients like fresh or frozen berries, assorted fruits and plenty of dark, leafy greens vegetables. For an added kick, substitute coconut water instead of plain water to maintain the consistency you desire while at the same time adding essential minerals and electrolytes.

Smoothies Can Fill You Up Without the Calories: By using ample amounts of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and chard, you can create a smoothie that’s both low in calories and high in fiber, which helps give you that feeling of being “full” without eating a huge meal. Cucumbers, peppers, and even tomatoes can help add more dietary fiber to your smoothie without adding unnecessary calories and limiting the amount of sugars. Sugars, even if they are all natural, tend to be digested relatively quickly, leaving your body craving more in a short amount of time. For cutting down on sugars even more, try to use fruit sparingly and opt for low sugar varieties like berries for best results. Continue reading »

Dec 262016
 

ham-casseroles-with-leftovers

You have probably reached your fill with turkey and all the associated leftover meals. You can probably go a full year before seeing turkey on your plate. You are going to have plenty of leftovers from another staple of holiday meals as well. The roasted ham is an essential meat for many traditional holiday dinners especially Christmas. While it isn’t quite as versatile as turkey when it comes to reinventing the leftovers into a new meal, ham does lend itself well to a variety of casseroles!

Here are some easy and delicious casserole recipes that create brand new meals from that leftover holiday ham:

Ham Casserole Recipe Ideas

Breakfast Casserole With Ham
Ham lends itself easily to a breakfast meal. You can use the leftover ham for a fun and yummy breakfast casserole that can be eaten for any meal of the day. To make this, scramble eggs with diced ham and then mix with potatoes that have been shredded hash brown style with butter. Top with grated cheese (we like using pepper jack) and bake in your favorite casserole dish. You can even experiment a little with with some cream of chicken soup or sour cream if you want a creamier dish.

Ham Baked Potato Casserole
If you are a fan of twice-baked potatoes, you are going to love this easy potato casserole recipe. For this casserole, you’ll need potatoes and ingredients like butter, sour cream, salt, and chives. Cut the potatoes into thin slices, au gratin style, and place them into the casserole dish with your other ingredients, along with a can of cream of potato soup. Top the dish with cubed pieces of ham and a cheese and bake for a hearty dish. Continue reading »

Dec 212016
 

I don’t know about you, but it’s not even Christmas and I’m exhausted. All of my out of town in-laws were back home for two weeks and there were many family get-togethers over those weeks, so when it came time for me to host a get-together the last thing I wanted to do was a lot of cooking for it. Then I heard about Qdoba’s catering bar, which features a hot buffet-style lineup of bold flavors that makes hosting holiday parties super easy.

Qdoba offers fresh, delicious Mexican food and perfect for business or personal occasions. You can serve as few as ten people or more than a hundred with their Hot Bars or boxed lunches. Set up is a snap and each Hot Bar comes with everything you’ll need – napkins, utensils, and chafing dishes that keep the hot stuff hot.

When you order catering from Qdoba you can choose from a Hot Taco Bar, Naked Burrito Bar, Nacho Bar, Boxed Lunches or Breakfast Burritos. As you can imagine, I was torn about what to get.  I mean tacos are awesome, nachos are awesome and burritos are – you guessed it -awesome. Continue reading »

Dec 142016
 

The holidays are in full swing and whether we want to admit it or not, Christmas will be here SOON. The holidays bring all kinds of family gatherings and I like to be prepared for all of them. My husband is one of seven and all of the out of town siblings (and their families) came back home recently, so that equated to many get-togethers while everyone was in town. It’s been a few years since everyone was in one place, so it was pretty special. There were quite a few parties/gatherings over the time they were all home plus a few on my side (and two more coming up before Christmas) and of course there is no way that I could show up empty handed to any of them. It’s been a busy December for us to say the least so I headed over to Stop & Shop because I knew they would have everything I needed.

The first thing I did when I got to Stop & Shop was to grab all the ingredients I needed to make a couple of green bean casseroles. If I show up to any family event without one, I think it’s safe to say that they won’t even let me in the door. Luckily they are super easy to make and the recipe is right on the back of the French’s French fried onions.

If you don’t have the recipe, here is it: Continue reading »

Dec 122016
 

20-easy-delicious-cookies-for-santa

We have many traditions around our house at Christmas time, but by far, one of the funnest things we do is baking cookies for Santa. Since my boys were little, each year we all work together as a family to make cookies to leave out on Christmas Eve. I have to admit that we’re usually pretty basic when it comes to cookies over here.  In our house Santa prefers chocolate chip cookies, so that is what we’ve always made.  I’ve tried to convince him to accept peanut butter cookies, but apparently he doesn’t want any part of them (what???).

This year, we are going to change it up, though.  Whether Santa likes it or not. Obviously chocolate chip cookies are delicious, but there are so many great cookie recipes out there and I am on a mission to try as many of them as possible (not all on Christmas Eve, though, of course).  Here are some cookie recipes that are high up on my list to try.

  1. Santa Pb Sandwich Cookies! {with Cotton Candy Beards} from sprinklesomefun.com
  2. Santa’s Cookies (Double Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies) from lecremedelacrumb.com
  3. Santa Nutter Butter Cookies from simplisticallyliving.com
  4. Santa Claus Cookies from noshingwiththenolands.com
  5. The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies For Santa from bourbonandhoney.com
  6. Soft And Chewy Triple Chocolate M&M Cookies from tastesbetterfromscratch.com
  7. Santa-ready Dipped Gingersnaps (paleo, Dairy-free, Grain-free, Sugar-free, Egg-free + Vegan) from healthfulpursuit.com
  8. Santa Dinner Rolls from thedecoratedcookie.com
  9. Chocolate spiced shortbread stars – Sweets for Santa from clairekcreations.com
  10. Santa Storm Trooper Cookies from simplisticallyliving.com
  11. Vegan Gingerbread Cookies from emilieeats.com
  12. Fluffy Sugar Cookies & Vanilla Frosting from pinchofyum.com
  13. I’m The Gingerbread Man… from cavoletto.com
  14. Soft-Frosted Lofthouse Style Cookies from peachesncreamblog.blogspot.ro
  15. Ho, Ho, Ho! Roly-poly Santa Cookie Recipe from sugarandcharm.com
  16. Sugar Cookie Squares from cookingclassy.com
  17. Kris Kringle Christmas Cookies from kimscravings.com
  18. Chocolate M&M Cookies And Holiday Recipes I Love from cookinglsl.com
  19. Holiday Truffle Cookies from thatskinnychickcanbake.com
  20. Santa Claus Cookies from realhousemoms.com

What kind of cookies are you leaving out for Santa this year?