Monday, October 27, 2014

Buffalo Blasts ®

         In this house, game day is synonymous with guilty fried foods easy enough to eat with your hands while lounging on the couch.  We here are Rutgers fans and so when they became part of the Big 10 this year, that meant more TV coverage…….aka: more game days to get our grub on! Unfortunately though, their games haven’t been as successful as my frying has been….. Oh well, at least something is working out. J

            Here is a recent recipe I used for some pregame appetizers. I halved the original recipe since it was just for the two of us. I think we could have downed the entire full quantity though. It is funny how when things are fried and 2-biters, you go through 7-10 of them in one commercial break. Maybe we could have slowed down or better yet, maybe I should have made the original amount. Either way, they were delicious. Matt enjoyed them with an extra side of hot sauce while I kept a limit on the heat by eating them as is. Again, with the mere crumbs left before kickoff, you could tell they were a hit.

            I left directions on the bottom of the recipe for baking this recipe. I actually did bake the first few of these treats before frying the rest. Results: baking was pretty tasty, but frying was impossible to beat. With the baking, you need additional hot sauce to dip in or even to glaze on top as they get a bit dry.  I’d recommend you fry. With the itsy size of these things, your hips won’t know the difference, I promise! ;)


Buffalo Blast ®- Copycat Recipe
Adapted from: Our Italian Kitchen
Originally adapted from: Restaurant Copycat Recipes
Servings: 12 Blasts (serving for 1! – lol) 

OBJ: TCW be able to replicate a restaurant favorite while also providing a fried treat for game day fun

2 chicken breast, cooked (I used leftover over white meat from large Oven Roaster)
¼ C hot sauce
2 cloves garlic minced
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
S & P: salt and pepper, to your liking
½ package won-ton wrappers
Vegetable or Canola Oil, for frying

1. Shred chicken well
2.  In a medium to large bowl, mix hot sauce, cream cheese, garlic and S & P
3. Add the shredded chicken and combine
4. Place a heaping TBS of chicken mixture on corner of wrapper. Water the edges and fold over, press along edges to seal. Repeat with remaining chicken mixture and wrappers
5. Pour oil in a large pot, fill ½ way. Heat oil over medium-high flame, heat enough so that when you stick the back of wooden spoon to bottom of pan, bubbles rise up. Or with a thermometer, you can check oil to make sure it is 350 degrees
6. Fry about 5-6 Blasts at one time, for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden browned
7. Remove from oil and place on wire rack, sprinkle with salt immediately. Serve alongside additional hot sauce or blue cheese


*** Alternately, you can preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake blasts on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, salt and serve with same dipping sauces. They are pretty good this way, not going to trick you into believing they are fried though! ***




Monday, October 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

        BBrrrr, the weather is definitely turning around these parts. The mornings have a distinct chill and the leaves are starting to pile. Although I am a summer gal through and through, I do love the start of fall….all the colors, cozy wrap-around sweaters and new boots to strut around in. However, all this autumn excitement lasts, oh, until about mid November when the car is too flipping cold to get into in the morning, I realize I no longer have tan lines, and I have to drive in the dark home from work…yyuuuckkkk….how many months until Memorial Day!??!

            Okay, I got too ahead of myself and began to get winter cranky, sorry…So where I was going with this..I am writing this post to get to the point that when the weather turns cold, not much can make you smile more than a hearty and steaming meal. A dinner that warms you from the inside out is one that I crave from now until about April. Now I know that not every dinner can be quintessentially winter-ific, but I love when I can find easy meals that come pretty darn close.

            As in this one….. Hearty, steamy, and way-filling, it will have you hardly missing those 95 degree days. The recipe comes together in a snap and as a bonus makes your house smell quite nice. I served it over rice but I bet rice noodles would be fantastic too. Either way, I know you’ll enjoy it…..

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
Serves: 4-6

OBJ: TCW be able to add a bit of pizzazz into the weeknight dinners

½ C soy sauce
½ C ketchup
1/3 C honey
2 cloves garlic, minced,
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tsp siracha
½ C chopped green onion
2 tsp canola oil
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 C diced carrot
1 C cleaned and roughly chopped string beans
Cornstarch and water

1. Whisk all ingredients except chicken, carrots, string beans, cornstarch and water
2. Place chicken in slow cooker, pour mixture on top
3. Cook on low 4 ½ hours
4. Add carrots and string beans to slow cooker, cook for additional 30-45 minutes
4. Remove chicken from slow cooker, make sure it is done (it should be but chicken sizes vary so much), shred it
5.  Leave slow cooker on low and whisk together 2 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoon of water. Add “slurry” to mixture left in slow cooker and stir. Add chicken back into slow cooker and let everything heat and thicken through- about 5 minutes
6. Serve over rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds, enjoy

Friday, September 26, 2014

Oreo Pound Cake

            You know what might be even better than having this cake to serve?

            Having ¾ of a package of Oreos left to snack on all month long!! Seriously, I think I was more excited to have leftover Oreos in my fridge than I was to bring this cake to a recent family BBQ. Haha, I guess I like to keep it more simple than most!

            Nevertheless, this cake is great. Definitely a “cheater recipe” in that it has 2 ingredients, but whose judging? C’mon, who doesn’t love a quick and tasty treat that will both wow your guests and leave you with a little treat at home? There I go again, with my beloved package of Oreos. Moving on…..yes, this recipe……I bet it would be super good with all the umpteen new flavors of Oreos out there too. I recently saw peanut butter Oreos and my goodness, those would be divine in this recipe. I hear there is even a Limited Edition Cookie Dough flavor……wowza, that is almost too much to handle. And of course, the source I got this recipe from, Miss Stephanie stands by her Birthday Cake Oreos. Again, another addition to this recipe that would be nothing short of exceptional.

            So go ahead, get some Oreos…..original or something more adventurous…..either way you’ll be left with one delicious cake and duh- a treat left for you! Enjoy….

Oreo Pound Cake
Servings: 8-10
Slightly adapted from: Stephanie Cooks, originally adapted from: Kraft

OBJ: TCW be able to bring a homemade dessert without spending hours in the kitchen whipping one up

15 Oreos
1, 16 oz package Pound Cake Mix

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Butter a loaf pan or cover one with foil then spray with nonstick spray
3. Prepare the pound cake mix according to package directions
5. Chop up 10 Oreos and mix into batter
6. Pour batter into prepared pan
7. Cut the remaining Oreos into quarters and scatter atop of batter, push down to help set them
8.  Bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes, during last half hour loosely place piece of foil on top to prevent burning
9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Potatoes Au Gratin- Lazy Version

** Just taking note of today's date for this post- September 11. Wow, those two items: September and 11. They behold so much emotion and meaning for all of us. I must say it is both a sad day and a proud day to be an American. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of those out there who have and continue to put their lives on the line so that we can live in this beautiful free country. God Bless America and may we never forget what took place 13 years ago. **
This week’s things to note:
1. I know this picture isn’t the prettiest

2. The Pioneer Woman is a genius

3. Peeled potatoes are overrated

            You guys, this recipe……just amazing. Cream, potatoes, cheese, whole milk…..what is there not to like? Oh yeah- the potatoes don’t have to be peeled and sliced in that scalloped style either?!? So yes, this is pretty much better than when sliced bread hit the shelves. Or I guess for this generation, when GPS was invented because we all know if left to use maps, we’d be up a creek….pun not intended. J

            I added the ‘Lazy Version” to this title as it has all the flavors, textures, and dreaminess of a restaurant-quality au gratin, but just with a lot less work. Not having to peel or mandolin the potatoes is a time-saver and a half. Not to mention, anytime I can avoid that mandolin thingy I do- it totally freaks me out plus I love my fingers and nails too much to use it. So anyway, without peeling or slicing, you are in one lucky predicament: more time on your hands and a delicious dish awaiting your dinner table. Just excellent….enjoy…..

Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin- “Lazy Version”
Serves: 8

OBJ: TCW be able to make a fancy side dish to accompany Hubby’s grilled steaks

1 tablespoons butter, softened
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 ½  cups heavy cream
½  cup whole milk
2 TBS flour
1 teaspoons salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper ( to taste)
1 cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 green onion, sliced thin (white and light green parts only)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then, butter a baking dish with the butter- the bottom and sides
2. Slice the potatoes into sticks, and then cut the sticks to create cubes
3. Combine the cream and milk in a bowl. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Whisk it together well so that the flour is incorporated into the milk/cream mixture
4.  Add the diced potatoes to the prepared dish and pour the cream/milk mixture all over the top
5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes
6. Remove the foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes more or until bubbly
7.  Just before serving, sprinkle on the grated cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden, 5 minutes
8.  Sprinkle on the green onions and serve it right away!



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fleischmann's Homemade Pretzels

Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix:

Pretzel Creations

            Wow, it has been quite some time since I’ve added to my “What I’m buying Up” section. Not exactly sure what that means.....We all know this gal likes to shop so it can’t be the lack of that….I’m always scouring the food store well after my list has been  all checked off and completed……I’ve got a pretty big mouth so I can’t imagine it being me wanting to keep something on the DL…..

            Well than, I guess it boils down to not enough time to blog about my everyday cooking, trying different places to eat, and buying new products to share. Waahhhh, wahhhh, waahhh, where does the time go???

            Enter- my decent summer tan, a few books read and conquered, and plenty of sand to clean out of my trunkJ    Needless to say, it has been a great summer but one in which you might have missed me.

            So even though I can’t promise a more week-to-week posting schedule, I can bring you a new product that Hubby and I are just smitten with.

            I actually can’t take credit for this find. Matt came along shopping with me and spotted this product perched high above the baking goods. I think the marketing team did a swell job on this as the picture on the box definitely caught his eyes in oh, about 2 seconds. He’s a sucker for soft pretzels so once he saw the glistening twists displayed, he presented them to me with that cute smile.

            He gets me every time.

            So long behold, we bought them, made them and are definitely going to be buying more. They have a great buttery taste and are quite crisp right from the oven.  The process isn’t exactly 1-2-3, but if you can manage to give yourself 20 minutes, you will be well on your way to snack Heaven. Enjoy…

To read more about the product as well as other items, click here

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Banana Nut Muffins

             How come I have less work to do in the summer but less time to do everything else I need to get done? Honestly, I don’t have to get up at 5am, sit in rush hour parkway traffic or commute during the months of July and August, yet I still have this ongoing to-do list and things that just aint gettin’ done. HHhhmmm….could it be that I
a.) sleep until 10 am most mornings
b.) take 2 hours to read paper, eat breakfast and peruse internet
c.) take naps as often as I can
d.) all of the above

            If you chose d., yes you are correct and now you think I’m a slacker…, hate if you want….I merely try to live it up during these 8 weeks off while still sacrificing an ongoing to-do list and ever-growing not-done-yet list.

            So yes I am teacher who is still trying to soak in the next few weeks of sun as well as get what I need to get done before the alarm starts to ring once again. On the list:
-          Bake more
-          Cook new recipes
-          Finish my dining room furnishings
-          Organize my cabinets

            So although I can’t say I’ll be successful conquering that entire list, I can say I am well on my way. Case and point- this recipe. More baking…..check! Now although this is not exactly some revolutionary, drool worthy recipe, it was one that continued to repay me morning after morning. The muffins were probably the best ones I’ve made yet. Moist, fluffy, with a decent amount of texture, they accompanied my coffee and fruit bowl perfectly.

            So go ahead and make these, I think your morning will brighten……even if it doesn’t last as long as mine does! …….:) Enjoy

Banana Nut Muffins
Servings: 12 – 14

OBJ: TCW be able to try one more banana nut recipe to see if she can stop the search for the best one

2 C Flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 overripe bananas
1 C brown sugar
¾ C (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ C chopped walnuts
Streusel Topping:
2 TBS chopped walnuts
1/3 C brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS flour
1 TBS butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 365 and line muffin tin with nonstick liners
2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside
3. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork just slightly, you still want them to have texture
4. With an electric mixer fitted with wire whisk, whip the remaining 2 bananas and sugar together very well, for a good 3 minutes
5. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. Make sure to scrape down bowl at least once
5. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula
6. Using a large ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill about ¾ of the way. Give them a nice rap on the counter to get bubbles out
7. In a small bowl, mix all the streusel ingredients together except butter
8. Using a fork, blend in butter so that you have a moist crumb consistency
9. Sprinkle crumb topping over each muffin
10. Bake for about 18-20 muffins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before turning out onto rack to cool
11. Serve warm or room temperature





Friday, July 25, 2014

Mistral: Princeton, NJ

Final Grade: A

            Sometimes I think this blog should be re-titled, “’! We, myself and Hubby, more often than not, arrange our plans and appointments based on restaurants within the vicinity. This may sound crazy, but for us whenever we get to hit the road for any reason we know we 1- will have to eat, 2- may never get to this area again and 3- can possibly cross off a restaurant from our list. It's a win-win for all involved……unless we are coming to your house for a BBQ or dinner, we then might have an issue with you.

            Towns we love to ‘just so happen to be in’ or around are Jersey City, Morristown, New Brunswick, Westfield and most recently Princeton. The last one there being the focus for this review. Princeton- what a beauty. I had never really given the town more than just a thought involving an Ivy League school and it being close to Trenton. Basically and more realistically, I haven’t given this town its credit. Just in the past 6 months, I think I’ve pinned a handful of restaurants I need to get to  and read reviews about umpteen more. So naturally, when the opportunity presented itself a few weeks back for us to be in that area to drop off my cousin, I was like, “Slam bam, thank you Mam, we gonna chow right now!”
            After narrowing down our choices for that Sunday afternoon lunch, we decided to go to the much-desired Mistral.
            We opted to sit at their bar area where the kitchen is in full view. This, for me, is like being a kid in a candy store. Watching chefs work is so intriguing and entertaining. What’s more here is also getting a look at how the Chefs both handle and respect their ingredients. What I truly loved here was that many ingredients, from the croutons to the pickled vegetables, were labeled with dates.  Now I would hope most restaurants do this, but for me, actually seeing how literally fresh these items were did nothing but make me smile.
            Our lunch consisted of a few items to share, although our forks generally stayed in our own direction. I went with the Grilled Vegetable Salad ($8) and an order of the Warm Cornbread with Jalapenos and Honey Butter ($5). The salad consisted of locally grown summer vegetables tossed with fried crouton crisps, a few lettuces, fresh herbs and a light dressing to tie it all together. What I thought at first was just a heaping bowl of arugula actually turned out to be a pot of gold once I tossed what was on the bottom to the top. The vegetables had what was somewhat of a cross between a roasted and grilled flavor while the croutons dazzled up each bite with a fried crunch. Now the cornbread I knew I would have no problems with upon seeing. Arriving straight from the oven in its cast iron skillet with the butter melting more each second, I knew I had paired the salad perfectly. Oh how scrumptious that buttered and steamy bread was with each sliver of jalapeno. This was a dish hard to share.
                       Hubby had similar to say about his choices as well. He went with the Seared Halibut ($16) and a side of Bacon Beignets ($5). The fish was outstanding, simply put. Wrapped in Serrano ham skin and simmering in a broth sporting both turnips and rock shrimp, it was culinary craftsmanship at its finest. The broth alone could win awards, which is why if we had one complaint it would be: serve that dish up with some crusty bread please! The Bacon Beignets speak for themselves. Puffed, salty and rich in pork fat flavor, they had me wishing I was willing to share more of my cornbread!

            We skipped dessert as it was lunch and I, being a weirdo and all, don’t like to overstuff during the day for one reason: it ruins dinner. I live for dinner, if you haven’t noticed yet. Anyway, we did glance at the dessert offering and were both caught eyeing up our neighbor’s Pot de Crème ($9) with hazelnuts and thyme all in a too-cute tea cup. Oh well, we will be back again for dinner and will most definitely get our shot at dessert. Actually when we do go back, I already have a few things I saw the Chefs create that had my name all over them. I would list them all but I’d rather let you go there yourself and watch the spectacle of Mistral unfold before you.

Mistral is located at 66 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ. Visit their website for more information.


Total score 22/25

Final Grade: A


A: 21-25    B: 16-20    C: 11-15   D: 6-10    F: 0-5

Restaurant Rubric

Food Taste
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Restaurant service
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Food Presentation
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?








Thursday, July 10, 2014

Italian Ricotta Cookies

              Yum, these cookies! Little gems with just the right amount of sweetness and small enough to grab a few and have no shame. Add to that a cup of tea and you’ll have yourself one midday escape. Oh and plus they have sprinkles…..this undoubtedly makes everything better. Duh

            Only problem is….July- when a cup of tea and cranking your oven sound like we’re off our rocker!

            So maybe just wait to make these for a rainy cool day……or send the recipe to someone, like me, who bakes in the summer……or suck it up and put on a tank top and get crackin!

            Or if you must, pin the recipe and save for Christmas time. Being that the recipe makes about a million cookies, you’ll definitely want to make these come December. It will be you: 1 overwhelming Holiday stress: 0  

            Can’t believe I was just writing about Christmas…..ahh, enough of that…..Here’s to enjoying the sun, playing in the heat and (maybe) having some cookies along with! Enjoy….

Tip: place newspaper underneath cookies with sprinkling to save yourself a mess

Italian Ricotta Cookies
Makes: about 4 dozen
Source: Family Friend

OBJ: TCW be able to make one batch of cookies to feed a crowd

½ lb butter, room temperature
2 C sugar
½ tsp salt
1 lb Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 orange
4 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

2 C confectionary sugar
¼ C butter, melted
3 TBS whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Multi-colored sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper
2. Cream butter, add sugar and continue creaming.
3. Add eggs, ricotta, vanilla and beat well
4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to batter along with orange rind and mix well
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool completely

1. Combine all ingredients until smooth consistency
2. Spread icing on top of each cookie and add sprinkles