Ja cię kocham…

….simple, healthy, and with lots of love.

Big Bowl Brownie Dessert

May 30, 2010 By: kristi Category: Dessert, Fruit

Every year, the hubby and I bust out one of our four grills, (I know, I know.  Who needs four grills?  Apparently we do!)  and host a BBQ of sorts.

We decided to have the BBQ on Saturday rather than on Memorial Day to give us time to relax and enjoy the weekend.  I don’t know about you, but I end up completely exhausted when I host a dinner and work the next day.  There needs to be a day off AFTER holidays just to recuperate!   I vote for Easter Mondays off!

Lately I have really been trying to keep family meals simple.  If you recall my Mother’s Day Dinner at all, you remember that each dish consisted of 5 ingredients or less.  For Memorial Day I decided to do a potluck to keep the wallet happy and also to keep the stress level at a minimum.  I also chose recipes that I could either prep or completely make the day before the BBQ.  This allowed me to have time to enjoy my morning cup of coffee on the deck and casually vacuum the house without running around like a crazy person.

Oh, and it gave me time to dress in theme and take pictures of myself.

What?  You don’t wear patriotic pinwheels on your head?  I blame it on being a teacher.

Just so you can mentally prepare yourself, I have to warn you that the dessert that you are about to encounter is addicting.  Even when you are completely filled to the brim, and ready to roll over and surrender to the day’s gorging of food, you will eat this dessert.  And then you will eat more.  I’m not kidding.

I baked the brownies (which is a miracle in itself) the night before and prepared the trifle dish 2 hours before the BBQ.  You can very easily make the whole thing the night before, but I was busy making my great-great grandmother’s Potato Salad and Poppy’s Cucumber Salad.

I have warned you.  If you make this, you will not want to share it.  You will want to hide it in the back of the fridge and eat it when everyone leaves.  So just make two.  One for your guests and one for you.  I will not judge.

Big Bowl Brownie Dessert
Source: Betty Crocker
Serves 16

Ingredients:

1 box brownie mix
water, vegetable oil, and eggs as called for on brownie mix package
2 cups whipping cream
1/4-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (depending on how sweet you like your whipped cream)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling (or any fruit filling)
2 Tbs. sliced almonds for garish (optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F if using dark or nonstick pan).  Bake brownies as directed on package and allow to completely cool.

In medium bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. In small bowl, combine pie filling and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

Cut brownies into 1-inch pieces. In 3-quart glass bowl, layer half of the brownies; top with cherry pie filling and half of the whipped cream. Top with remaining brownies and whipped topping; sprinkle with almonds. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Toasted Almond Mocha

May 23, 2010 By: kristi Category: Beverage, Breakfast

I woke up this morning to a dreary, rainy day that was simply begging me to be lazy.  No problem, Lazy Sunday,  I will listen to you.

Lazy Sundays can be tough because there is nothing on the itinerary forcing me to wake up, shower, and get moving and for some reason I always feel as if there is something that I could do that would alleviate the stress during the week.  Should I do laundry?  How about pick a room to clean?  Why must I insist on being productive on a perfectly good Lazy Sunday?!  Let’s just sit at the kitchen table, looking out the sliding glass door with a steaming cup of coffee and a good book.  Sounds good, huh?

Instead of changing the sheets and mopping the floor, I am going to whip up a very simple and sophisticated mocha that immediately whisks me away to my favorite little corner cafe with budding flowers and early morning chatter.  Maybe I’ll make pancakes, too.   Or home fries.  I’m going to see where my motivation leads me (or doesn’t lead me).  For now, I’m just going to sip my mocha and enjoy a morning filled with nothing to do.

Toasted Almond Mocha

Source: Claire Robinson of 5 Ingredient Fix
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces sliced almonds
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons honey
4 shots espresso or 1 cup very strong coffee
4 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a sheet tray in 1 even layer and toast in the oven until fragrant and light golden, about 7 minutes.

Put the toasted almonds and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until steaming and hot, but not boiling, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the honey and stir until incorporated, then strain through a fine mesh strainer.

In a warm mug or heatproof glass, mix an espresso shot or 1/4 cup coffee with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and then top with the toasted almond-infused milk. Repeat with remaining espresso, cocoa and hot milk.

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Healthy Chicken Parmesan

May 20, 2010 By: kristi Category: Bread, Main Dish, Pasta

In my last post I talk about indulging a little bit in the foods that we want.  Sometimes I HAVE to have fettuccine alfredo or my ranch dressing on my salad.

Okay, I always have ranch dressing, but it’s on the side.  (I have friends that are very health conscious that are now going to scold me for admitting to the ranch – hehe.)  What I’m getting at is the fact that there are some foods that I cannot substitute with fat-free ingredients.  Ranch dressing being one of them.

I’d rather eat a salad with NO dressing than a salad with fat-free ranch.  Bleck.  It’s just NOT the same!

There are other foods that I have absolutely no problem substituting low-fat or healthier ingredients for the fattier ones.  Honestly, I like to make most classic dishes healthier.   Chicken Parmesan is one of them.

But please, PLEASE don’t EVER ask me to consume fat-free ranch… or fat-free cheese for that matter.  Eeeeew.  I swear that stuff isn’t even food.  (Don’t worry about me too much.  I do like part-skim and low-fat dairy so my arteries won’t completely clog…)

Often when I need inspiration for a healthy twist on a dish, I turn to Ellie Krieger of the Food Network.  As a very popular nutritionist with her own cooking show, Ellie is the one to look up for lightened up meals without compromising the flavor.  (She doesn’t use fat-free cheese.  That’s my kind of girl!)

All of my friends at work know what a foodie I am.  Every day, I’m asked questions about cooking or health facts.   One of my friends (who is equally as obsessed with the Food Network as I am) brought in this recipe.  8:30 in the morning she sees me, runs to her purse, grabs the recipe, slams it on my clip board and says, “you have GOT to try this!”.

So I did.  And she was right!  And after eating it for myself I realized that her excitement for this dish was very much appropriate.

Hopefully this healthier version of Chicken Parmesan will be one that you add to your collection!  Some people do not like to mess with a classic, but I think this one is tasty enough to meet your standards!

Healthy Chicken Parmesan

Source: Ellie Krieger
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 slices whole-wheat bread (1-ounce each) (I used honey-wheat sandwich thins because they are my current obsession!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 (6 ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
Olive oil cooking spray
1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons (1/2-ounce) shredded Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed, about 25 to 30 seconds. Put the crumbs on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until golden. (You will wind up with about 1 1/3 cups toasted crumbs.)

In a medium bowl, toss the crumbs with oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and milk together. In a third bowl stir together the flour, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Dip each piece of chicken, 1 piece at a time, in flour, shaking off excess, then egg, then bread crumbs, shaking off excess.

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place breaded breasts in a glass baking dish and spray on each side with cooking spray, about 5 seconds total per side. Bake breasts until cooked through and crumbs are browned, about 15 minutes. Top with marinara sauce, mozzarella and parmesan and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

I served mine with whole wheat pasta.

(Serving size, 1 piece chicken with sauce and cheese)

Calories 410; Total Fat 11 g; (Sat Fat 4.5 g, Mono Fat 2.7 g, Poly Fat 1.2 g) ; Protein 50 g; Carb 31 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 110 mg; Sodium 1200 mg

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Nutty Green Beans with Bacon and Blue Cheese

May 19, 2010 By: kristi Category: Side Dish, Vegetables

I give you the final recipe from my Mother’s Day Dinner Menu!

Oh boy these were amazing.  I know these aren’t the healthiest version of green beans out there, BUT it is okay to indulge every so often!   The beauty of this recipe is that you can use as little or as much of the fattening ingredients as you would like.   If you are being cautious about your caloric intake you can make the proper adjustments (center-cut bacon, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, reduced fat cheese, etc.) to meet YOUR needs.   You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly.   It still tastes good even if you use less cheese or omit the bacon.  I just thought that this was the perfect compliment to my Rosemary Pork Tenderloin.

Does my plate look good?  Trust me, it was amazing.  So make this meal, savor it, and then go relax on your porch, deck, or couch.  I went on my parents’ deck….

My husband, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and I all went to Temple University for undergrad so of course there is a TU flag at my parents’ house!  Even though my Mom and Uncle went to different colleges, they still have pride for the Cherry and White.

Just had to throw that out there :)

Nutty Green Beans with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Source: Claire Robinson of 5-Ingredient Fix
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
2 pound green beans, trimmed (frozen are fine, just thaw them before using)
4 slices bacon
4 ounces blue cheese, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cups toasted whole pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the beans from the water and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. Remove the beans from the ice water and set aside in a medium bowl.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and place on paper towels. Add the beans to the bacon drippings and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the blue cheese and toss just until it starts to melt. Break the cooked bacon into bite-size pieces and add to pan. Finish by stirring in the toasted chopped pecans. Season with the freshly ground black pepper and just a tiny pinch of kosher salt. Serve immediately.

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Scalloped Potato Gratin

May 14, 2010 By: kristi Category: Side Dish, Vegetables

Have you ever made something that is so unbelievably fantastic that you don’t understand how you lived before trying it?   Something so good that you seriously consider putting on the list of things you would make sure to have if you were stranded on a desert island?

This dish is one of those things.  Honestly, if I had to choose only one thing that I was allowed to eat for the rest of my life, this would be a deep consideration.

Mom and I were preparing for Christmas dinner last year, and she came across this recipe by Tyler Florence.  Ever since she brought this gem into our lives, every person that has consumed it falls in love instantly and wants the recipe.  Now I have had a lot of incredible potato dishes in my life but this one by far surpasses every single one of them.

So what are you waiting for???!!!   Get crackin’ on some Gratin!

Scalloped Potato Gratin

Source: Tyler Florence
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Butter
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

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Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

May 12, 2010 By: kristi Category: Main Dish

Sometimes I wonder if I need to go to some kind of therapy for my obsession with food.  Seriously.  I wake up and think about food.  As I’m getting ready for work, I’m thinking about dinner possibilities and while I’m at work I’ll jot down a potential grocery list for the dinner that I am concocting in my head.

We won’t talk about my subscriptions to the Food Network, Real Simple, or  Cooking Light magazines that I anxiously wait for every month.

But I will talk about my new favorite TV show on the Food Network, 5 Ingredient Fix.

Oh man, this show is kick butt because each recipe entails only 5 ingredients (not counting the salt and pepper that we should already have in our cupboards).  You all know I’m all about minimal ingredients!

Claire Robinson, you’re awesome.  Thank you for keeping it simple.

When you make this dish, the aroma of fresh rosemary and bacon will swirl around the house making your guests eager for dinner.   They’ll think you were in the kitchen all day preparing.  So while they all think you’re slaving over the stove, grab yourself a cocktail, kick off your shoes, and relax.   They’ll never know that you put little effort into such a flavorful dish.

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

Source: Claire Robinson of the 5 Ingredient Fix
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves, plus 4 sprigs rosemary, with hard woody stems
5 large garlic cloves, 2 cloves minced, 3 cloves smashed
2 pork tenderloins, about 1-pound each
4 slices maple bacon

**You’ll need kitchen twine!**

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, fresh ground black pepper, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic and mix well. Rub the mustard mixture over the surface of the tenderloins and wrap in plastic wrap. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place rosemary sprigs and smashed garlic in the center of a roasting pan. Remove the plastic wrap from the tenderloins and top each with 2 slices of maple bacon. Tie with kitchen twine to secure bacon strips.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the tenderloins, registers 160 degrees F. Remove from oven when desired doneness is reached and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes on a cutting board. Remove kitchen twine, slice and serve with your favorite sides. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and garlic.

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Pumpkin Hummus with Semi-Homemade Pita Chips

May 11, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Bread, Side Dish, Snack, Spicy, Vegetarian

My mom, sister, and I not only share DNA but a deep love for this dip.   My sister had a few wedding dress fittings and each time we were finished at the bridal boutique we went to the same restaurant for tea.  Each time we stared at our options on the menu, looked at each other and smiled as one of us inevitably said, “Do you want to split the pumpkin hummus platter?”.

OF COURSE WE DO!  It’s to die for!

This platter came with olives, pitas, and crudite.  Oh so good.  So we decided to make our own.  I decided not to use tahini (ground sesame seeds) in this hummus, and I’m happy to share that the flavor wasn’t negatively affected.   The consistency is different than that of a typical store-bought hummus.   This recipe is a little chunkier, but it definitely feels lighter and fresher.

I had to laugh because I come walking into my parents’ house with groceries and am so excited to get started on dinner when I realize that I brought absolutely nothing to dip into the pumpkin hummus.  Oops.

If it’s not a cake that I forget, it’s chips for the dip!  Geez!

Lucky for me my mom is a genius!  She whipped out some whole wheat wraps, did a little mommy magic and gave me some awesome pita chips for the hummus.   The pita chips were so stinkin’ easy that I made them last night for dinner.  I had three leftover wheat wraps in the fridge that were in there just long enough that I couldn’t fold them without them tearing.  I never thought of making chips out of them.  It seriously took less than 10 minutes from start to finish.  Gotta love that!

This whole hummus and pita recipe takes less than 10 minutes.   Just a little zip, zip of the food processor while your oven bakes and you have a fabulous appetizer.

Pumpkin Hummus withe Semi-Homemade Pita Chips

Source for Hummus: Libby’s Pumpkin Website
Source for Pita Chips: The Mommy

Serves 8

For Pita Chips:

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat wraps
cooking spray or 1 Tbs. olive oil
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

With a pizza cutter or knife, cut wraps into 8 equal triangles and place on baking sheets.  Spray wrap triangles lightly with cooking spray or gently brush with olive oil.  Flip and gently coat other side of wrap with cooking spray or oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Bake for 5 minutes or until bottoms are lightly brown.  Flip them.  Bake for an additional 3-4 minutes making sure to watch them carefully because they can burn very quickly.  Take them out and let cool.

For the Pumpkin Hummus:

Ingredients:

1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
sprinkle of paprika (optional)

Directions

Place chickpeas, pumpkin, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt and pepper into food processor; cover. Blend for 1 minute or until smooth.  Additional water, a teaspoon at a time, can be added if a smoother consistency is desired. Stir in parsley. Top with paprika.  Serve immediately or refrigerate in tightly covered container for up to 4 days. Makes about 2 cups.

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A Tribute to The Mommy – Mother’s Day Dinner Menu

May 10, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Food for Thought, Main Dish, Side Dish, Spreads/Dips, Vegetables

I hope all of the Mommies in the food blog world had a FABULOUS Mother’s Day!!  I can envision your sweet, little children bringing you breakfast in bed or making a darling card out of construction paper and stickers and the grown up children giving you a phone call or paying you a visit that simply made your day.

You deserve it, Mommies.  You have worked so hard all of our lives to bring us the best that life has to offer and we thank you!

In case you didn’t already pick up on this – I absolutely adore my mom.  And honestly, she makes it very easy for us to love her.  The Mommy is such a giver and is literally the strongest, most loyal and loving woman that I have ever met.  Growing up she braided my hair, ironed my clothes, wrote me cute notes in my lunch box, drove me to dance lessons, cheered me on at field hockey games (which she still does even though I’m all grown up), and much, much more.  I don’t know what I would do without my mom.  I love you, Ma!  You’re the most beautiful woman on this planet, and I thank God for you each and every day!

Bearing this in mind, this Mother’s Day was very bittersweet this year because it was so exciting to celebrate the many accomplishments of my mom but we were missing another mother of equal importance.

My Mom and her Mom (Mom Mom) in 2007.

As you  learned from this post, our amazingly wonderful Mom Mom passed away less than a month ago.  In the few weeks since then we have been fortunate enough to have much to celebrate – my mom’s birthday and my sister’s wedding.  We are so thankful to have many joys in our lives at a time that can often be overwhelming.

Even though Mom Mom wasn’t physically present at our Mother’s Day Dinner we made sure to honor her by using her dishes.

Small things such as preparing a loved one’s favorite meal or using his or her every day dinnerware brings about a sense of comfort and love.

Are the dishes adorable?!  I think so!

This Mother’s Day, The Mommy and I made a simple but fabulous dinner.  It wouldn’t be a family meal without The Mommy and I in the kitchen cooking together!

Normally when I’m cooking a family dinner, I make a detailed schedule of when to prepare and cook each dish and inevitably wind up behind schedule for some reason like talking too much or forgetting something like BAKING A CAKE.  Yes, I forget to bake cakes.  I’m that bad.

Thankfully, this meal was very relaxed in terms of preparation and cooking.  Maybe I’m getting a knack for cooking family meals.

We made very low maintenance dishes that required few ingredients and minimal active prep time.  For once I didn’t have every last detail written down and wouldn’t you know it – everything came out PERFECTLY and ON TIME.

Sometimes I look back on past meals and wonder why I feel the need to make things so complicated.  I’m truly learning that less is more.  I know I keep saying that over and over again in this blog, but I cannot stress it enough!  LESS IS MORE!

I’m going to give you the run down of our menu and will post individual recipes in the near future.  I’m just too excited about this meal that I want to show you what we made!

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Pumpkin Hummus with Semi-Homemade Pita Chips

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Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

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Scalloped Potato Gratin

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Nutty Greens with Bacon and Blue Cheese

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And we had vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate syrup for dessert!

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It was delicious!  I loved being able to spend more time with my family without having to constantly pop into the kitchen to check on the food.  After dinner, we sat around with coffee and chatted around the table until 10pm!  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Charming and Inexpensive Dinner: Ja Cie Kocham and Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Celebrate The Mommy’s Birthday!

April 25, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Dessert, Food for Thought, Fruit, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish, Spreads/Dips

Yes, that is a homemade birthday cake.  And yes, I baked it.  And yes, it actually turned out!   At some point I will learn how to put icing on a cake, but right now I’m just excited that the cake itself wasn’t underdone.  Let’s just say that I was going for a rustic look.

Emmy, of Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, and I decided to throw The Mommy a fantastic birthday dinner that surrounded her with good food, family, and lots of laughter.  Being The Mommy means that she cannot stand by and let us have all of the fun in the kitchen.  She wanted to help cook, too!


The Mommy prepping the tomatoes for the Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Chicken

My sister was a good sport because she and I were supposed to cook everything together, but unfortunate circumstances (mainly traffic and last minute food purchases) led me to arrive a mere 30 minutes before dinner.  I manged to bake the cake and make the salad, but the majority of the work was done by my sister.  Thanks, Emmy!  Although, I don’t think she completely minded because normally we celebrate The Mommy’s birthday at my house and I do all of the cooking.  Now that Emmy has a house of her own and is getting married in LESS THAN A WEEK it was her turn to show off her culinary skills that she has mastered for her husband-elect.

Above: Please note the Birthday Wine glass on the table.  The Mommy uses it every year!

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Emmy sauteing the chicken on her new stove!

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Emmy did a fantastic job hostessing for the very first time!  Not only is it so exciting to have been there and shared in the joyous occasion, it is equally wonderful to share it with all of you!  Our (mainly Emmy’s) meal served 8 people and was incredibly inexpensive.  This feat in itself is something that should make Emmy proud.

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And just because it’s fun: I bought The Mommy a pot of herbs from Trader Joe’s and we used it as a centerpiece.  It smelled fabulous as we ate!

So please take notes!  This is how you can prepare a charming and flavorful dinner for 8 people without having to break the bank but all the while being super proud.

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Now onto the food!

Pea Pesto


Emmy made this fabulous Pea Pesto served with crostini and crackers.  (I’d like to note how simple it is!   A few ingredients can take you a long way!)

Source: Giada DiLaurentiis
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, defrosted
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

Pulse together the peas, garlic, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

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Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Chicken

Source: Food Network
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

8 boneless, skinless breasts of chicken
3 cloves minced garlic
1-1 1/2 packages thawed, drained frozen spinach
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 ounces. Feta cheese, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons Olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoon dried basil

Directions:

Cut a two inch pocket into the thickest part of each chicken breast. Stuff each pocket with spinach and feta cheese and seal with a tooth pick. Season each breast well with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium high heat and saute the breasts until golden brown on all sides. Remove chicken to a plate and cover with tin foil.

Add onion to remaining oil in pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in white wine and bring to a simmer. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Bring to a simmer and return chicken to the pan and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and season sauce to taste. Serve with butter noodles tossed with parsley.

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Smashed Red Potatoes


I’ll have to double-check with Emmy about how she prepared this one!  I know it involved milk and red potatoes with the skin on it.  I mentioned preparing this first and then putting it in a crock pot while we prepared the rest of dinner.

If you are able to prepare anything and put it in the crock pot or in a warmer drawer of your oven, I highly suggest it!  It alleviates so much stress of having to make sure everything is served hot.

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Steamed Broccoli

Ingredients:

3/4 c. water
lemon slices (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
2 small or 1 large bag frozen broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil (optional)

Directions:

This is how The Mommy makes her broccoli: Place water in a small pasta pot or large skillet.  Add lemon slices, garlic, and broccoli.  Place on medium heat and cover.  Turn broccoli every minute or so to make sure that all broccoli is getting adequate steam.  When broccoli is ALMOST done, turn off the heat, and drain.  The broccoli will keep steaming when you transfer it to your serving dish and cover it.  (If you wait until your broccoli is fully cooked there is a good chance that it will keep cooking and turn yellow and mushy.)

Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and gently toss when ready to serve.

This is how Emmy makes her broccoli: Place the water and broccoli in a microwave-safe casserole dish (she omitted lemon slices), cover it and heat in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.  Toss it if some broccoli remains frozen and heat for an additional 30 seconds to minute.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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The Mommy’s favorite Salad – Purple and Blue Crunchy Salad

Unfortunately I had already tossed the lettuce before taking the picture so you can’t see all the purples and blues that are hiding underneath!

We call this “crunchy” salad because The Mommy LOVES when her salads are very crunchy.  The radicchio and walnuts add the crunch that she considers to be a stress reliever :)

Ingredients:

dressing of your choice – mom likes balsamic or citrus vinaigrette*
2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
half a head radicchio, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts
2 oz. feta cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste (we like LOTS of freshly cracked pepper)

Directions:

Place 1 Tbs. of dressing at the bottom of a large serving bowl, add remaining ingredients and gently toss.  Garnish with extra blueberries, walnuts, and feta.

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Southern-Style Strawberry Cake

Source: Joy the Baker

Ingredients for Cake:

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello
1 Tablespoon self rising flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Directions for baking cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Ingredients for icing:

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 box (1 lb.)  powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
pink food coloring
4 sliced strawberries

Directions for icing:

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add half of one box of the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Taste test it.  If it isn’t sweet enough, add the second half of the box and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

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After an amazingly satisfying meal, we sat and had coffee and chatted.

Starting in the front and going counter-clockwise: Emmy, Dad, my hubby (looking at the ceiling for some reason), Emmy’s husband-elect, Uncle D., Kitty, The Mommy.

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The party didn’t stop there!  The Mommy loves the fact that Emmy lives in a prime location for walking to different parks, restaurants, and shops so we stopped at a local Mexican restaurant for drinks.

And if you haven’t noticed, I’m in absolutely NO pictures because (clearly) I’m the photographer.  Emmy took some photos as well and will be posting about this fabulous day so maybe she has some of me in my flour-covered Phillies t-shirt.

Anyway, thank you for stepping into the lives of Ja Cie Kocham and Cleanliness is Next to Godliness!  We certainly had fun together and hope that you can take something away from our charming and inexpensive birthday dinner!

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Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs (Pasta con pangrattato)

April 24, 2010 By: kristi Category: Bread, Main Dish, Pasta

This dish is simplicity at its finest.  If you follow my blog at all you know how much I love recipes that consist of only a few ingredients.  Being the horrible multitasker that I am I need to have each and every ingredient prepared and right in front of me (and sometimes I put them in order of when I use them) before I start cooking or baking otherwise I will forget something.  This is especially true when I bake.  I have been known to forget key ingredients like eggs and milk in a cake.  I know.  It’s pathetic!  I blame it on the fact that I typically make vegan cakes that don’t require eggs and milk, but that’s not actually the truth.  I just get going and grab what’s in front of me – and if the eggs and milk aren’t in front of me, they ain’t goin’ in the cake.  Oops.

This recipe comes from a fellow foodie, and when I saw how simple the recipe is to prepare I leaped at the chance to make it.

I think what really makes this meal stand out is the homemade breadcrumbs.  They only take minutes to make and really add depth to the pasta.  This classic Italian dish is a good reminder that less is more. Recipes consisting of too many ingredients can get awfully expensive, and quite honestly I end up with far more dishes in the sink than I would prefer.  Stick with simplicity.  It never fails us.  Bearing that in mind, I really wish that I had doubled the recipe so I could share it with my friends and family.  This is definitely one to show off.  Bookmark it, friends!  This one is a keeper.

Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs
Source: Minimally adapted from Las Vegas Food Adventures
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh homemade breadcrumbs
2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine or capellini

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Remove from heat; add the cheese, parsley, bacon pieces, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and add to pan with breadcrumbs. Toss over low heat until pasta is coated. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese.

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