Friday, February 28, 2014

Caprese Tart - Dinner on the lighter side

Today was one of those days that I ate a much bigger lunch than I should have. I had grilled salmon...2 pieces...and they were fairly large pieces. It was one of those lunches that after I heated it in the microwave I hoped that none of my colleagues would see or ask what I was eating. It would have been quite embarrassing if anyone saw my king sized salmon portion. Luckily I was able to escape into my office with no one asking what I had made. When I was done eating I was quite full and complained to myself as to why I ate so much. Then justification kicked's was salmon, full of omega-3's and full of other healthy nutrients, so in my mind I was like I could eat a 3rd piece, it's doing my body good. NOT! I hoped that after a few hours I wouldn't feel so stuffed but I did. By the time I went grocery shopping at Wegmans and had to buy food for dinner tonight and the weekend, nothing heavy was appealing to me. I knew a big juicy hamburger or a grilled ribeye steak wasn't going to be on our menu tonight. When I go grocery shopping on full stomach, which I know you're supposed to so you don't buy so much, my family gets the short end of the deal. So my choice was something simple; something on the lighter side so I decided on tomato, mozzarella, basil tarts with an arugula salad. Dave will not be thrilled with my choice I just know! Wegmans always sucks me into buying their tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil...if you have a Wegmans grocery store you know what I mean! They always have a huge display and put the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil with the big red ripened vine tomatoes, plus they had yellow tomatoes, one of my favs! My grocery cart was full of healthy goodness for the weekend. When I was checking out and putting all of my groceries on the conveyer belt I knew the person behind me was like wow, she must be one healthy home cook! Today is Friday and that's the day we head to Ellicottville for the weekend so I usually buy our groceries in Buffalo and we take them with us. When Dave was packing the car he asked what we were having for dinner, I told him tomato, mozzarella tarts, and like I thought he wasn't thrilled. I tried convincing him it would be amazing and he would be food satisfied. He didn't buy it, nor did the boys, so on our way to Ellicottville he made a drive thru run to Mighty Taco! Oh well, he was happy and now I didn't have to hear him complain that our dinner looked more like a lunch or appetizer. Had I not had such a large lunch trust me I would have made something more substantial. Wow, this is a rambler post, sorry! So if you are looking for a light dinner, lunch or even brunch this meal was absolutely delicious and bursting with flavor! Salute to Caprese Tart - a dinner on the lighter side!

Caprese Tart with Fresh Basil (Click to print)

Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • Puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 4 ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • salt n pepper
  • olive oil
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • optional: 2 tb pesto sauce
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place puff pastry sheet on a cookie sheet with a litte cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out and let rest for 5 minutes. Place tomato slices and mozzarella by alternating them on puff pastry, until fully covered. Season with salt n pepper. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes or until cheese has melted. When done sprinkle basil over top or pesto sauce. Enjoy with an arugula salad.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Wow, this is so juicy. I love the tomatoes." (Luckily I had lots of extra tomatoes because he ate two like he was eating an apple.)

Tyler: "I love the crust on this...what kind is it?" 

Zachary: "The fresh mozzarella tastes so good melted like this." 

Dave: "Very delicious but I'm glad I made a run to Mighty Taco beforehand."

Andrea: "Loved this tart. The crust is flakey and buttery tasting. For not being in season these tomatoes were outstanding and bursting with flavor. It was super easy to make and I will make this as an appetizer often. A keeper recipe!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Shiny Red Package....

A shiny red package was in my mailbox yesterday. Before I even had a chance to read the label I crossed my fingers hoping it was for me. And it was. It was sent from my dear friend Christa. I was intrigued as to what was inside, so I played the game in my head, what could it possibly be?
With great anticipation, I opened my shiny red package. Inside was the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and a beautifully handwritten note from Christa congratulating me on the start of my blog. She highly recommended that I read the book and also watch the movie because it's about a woman who writes a food blog based on Julia Child's recipes. I planned on buying the book for our upcoming vacation but she beat me to it. And I am so excited to read it. 
When I read the first few pages of the book I noticed Christa wrote this note inside. What a perfect gift, from a perfect friend! Thank you Christa.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Smooth, silky, shiny, deep purple, superior taste, brain food.....words to describe one of my all time favorite foods: eggplant. I like it grilled, broiled, baked, fried or pureed. I like it prepared in any ethnic dish, whether it be italian, indian, greek or french. There are also many varieties of eggplant like, white, sicilian or Japanese. You name it, I like it. Dave on the other hand not so much. Every time I make eggplant, no matter how it's prepared, he'll eat a small portion and say it was just okay. I try my hardest to make him an eggplant lover like me but unfortunately I haven't been successful. Luckily Tyler and Zachary love eggplant. They like it so much they will order it when we are out to dinner at an Italian Restaurant. The last time we ate at Sinatra's Tyler ordered the eggplant and last time we went to Santiserio's Zachary ordered the eggplant. What kid orders eggplant instead of spaghetti and meatballs, right? So when they saw me assembling the Eggplant Parmesan Casserole I was making for dinner they could not wait to eat! Tonight Tyler and Zachary had their last basketball game of the season so their appetites were roaring. What's so great about this dish is that it can be assembled ahead and baked later. I prepared everything prior to their basketball game and when we got home I just popped it in the oven. It also tastes amazing the next day so I always make extra for leftovers. The best is when I put it in a crusty roll for Eggplant Parm Sandwiches! Yum, now I can't wait for tomorrow's dinner. I also made extra pasta on the side for my so-so eggplant eaters Dave and Nate. Hey, I guess the bright side is that it means more eggplant for me! Salute to eggplant any which way!
A delicious meatless meal
Assembling the Eggplant Parmesan Casserole is easy
Fresh out of the oven!
Pasta, the perfect side dish!
Eggplant Parmesan (Click to print)

Serves 8

Preparation and cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes

  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups seasoned italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt n pepper
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled, sliced. (should be about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato marinara sauce
  •  4 oz part skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 tb fresh basil, shredded
* For better results, I recommend taking the extra time to remove moisture from the eggplants. Removing excess water allows for less olive oil to be used, will prevent sogginess, will take away bitterness, and allow for a crisper more flavorful taste. To do this place sliced eggplant on a cookie sheet with paper towels underneath. Sprinkle both side with salt and let site for at least 30 minutes. You'll see the moisture on the paper towel immediately while also seeing the eggplant "sweat." See picture below.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl whisk together eggs, set aside. Place breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and salt n pepper on a plate and mix together, set aside. In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place breaded eggplants slices in saute pan and brown on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip over and brown other side for 3 minutes. Set browned eggplant slices on a cookie sheet. Using a 9 x 13 casserole dish, lightly coat the bottom with marinara sauce. Place half of the cooked breaded eggplant slices on bottom of casserole pan. On each slice place a teaspoon spread of ricotta cheese, then top with a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, then drizzle the marinara sauce over the cheese layer. Repeat with the remaining slices of cooked breaded eggplant. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Take out and add the remaining slices of mozzarella cheese to top. Bake in oven for an additional 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Top with shredded basil. Serve with a side of pasta.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Great pasta mom!" (He wouldn't even try the eggplant...I won't give up)

Tyler: "This is so good. Your eggplant is way better than a restaurant."

Zachary: "Yummy eggplant."

Dave: "Not bad, this is actually pretty good." (Hey, I'll take that)

Andrea: I thought the eggplant turned out fantastic! I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow.
Eggplant, the silky, shiny, smooth, deep purple, spectacular taste, brain food.
Great basketball season Tyler and Zachary!
Great Basketball season Nate, with Dave as his coach! 

How Awesome Is This Photo???

So over the weekend I took Tyler and Zachary to a friend's birthday party at Kissing Bridge Ski Resort.  On the our way through from Ellicottville to Glenwood, 
we stopped in Springville to have lunch. In the parking lot we noticed the Amish had parked their horse and buggy to go grocery shopping at Tops! I just loved this! 
I took pictures with no disrespect because as you can see there were no Amish folks in the buggy. Although when I was done taking a few photos of the horse, the Amish gentleman who was clearly the owner was walking out of the store with a cart full of groceries. Just awesome!

By the way, Cattaragus County is home to hundreds of Amish families. One of our favorite things to do is take a car ride through the Amish Trail for the day. The route is so beautiful and scenic and it truly takes you back in time. I love stopping at their homes and picking up freshly made baked goods. They always greet visitors at their homes with a huge smile and such enthusiasm. They also produce a variety of handcrafted furniture, quilts, toys, leather and iron works. A few years back we purchased an 8 person classic style picnic table. It weighs a ton but solid and sturdy enough to last us the next 100 years. If you are looking for something unique, educational and fun to do, take your family through the Enchanted Mountains Amish Trail in Cattaragus County. For more information click here on Amish Trail. They also have some great recipes on the Amish Trail site. I can't wait to try the Amish Whoopie Pie! Salute to the Amish Community!
Here's our Amish made picnic table

Amish Whoopie Pie Recipe
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour milk
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup hot water

1. Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs. 
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt.
3. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour milk.
4. Add the vanilla and dissolve soda in hot water and add last. Mix well.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes.
6. Make sandwiches from 2 cookies filled with the Whoopie Pie Filling.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reconnecting with My Toastmaster Snackster!

Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast Bites with Maple Syrup
Nate really wanted homemade waffles for breakfast this morning. I figured why not, it's the last day of winter break, let's make breakfast with a bang. So I climbed up onto the kitchen counter to reach the rarely used waffle maker. I also found a few other rarely used kitchen accessories up there too, one being the "Snackster." Yep you read this correctly, the Toastmaster Snackster Maker to be exact. I took both of them down and had to dust them off. The waffle maker gets used a few times a year but the Snackster, I don't even remember the last time I used it and I've had it for at least 10 years. If I remember correctly I bought the Snackster for like $10.00 at Walgreens. I don't know why I bought it but I must have been thinking "Oh this looks super cool, I can make some really scrumptious restaurant quality grilled cheese pockets in this thing." NOT! I probably used it once or twice and ever since it's been sitting on a shelf collecting piles of dust. The odd thing is why I even decided to bring it to our house in Ellicottville in the first place. Especially since I haven't used it in the last 10 years. The Snackster is one of those items I should have sold at one of my mom's many garage sales, for like $1.00 with room to negotiate, or so I thought! Things happen for a reason my friends. That Toastmaster Snackster Maker was meant to be taken to Ellicottville; it was meant to sit way up high in my kitchen cabinet; it was meant to wait patiently collecting dust; it was meant to be used Sunday, February 23, 2014 to make the most delicious "Blueberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast Bites" one has ever tasted! Yes, this is what I made for breakfast and let me tell you those sweet delectable morsels were out of this world! I drizzled pure maple syrup over the top and added some Penzey Cinnamon Spice over the top. Dave took a bite and said "Wow, these are so good they could be served at the Prince of Whales Hotel and Restaurant!" Nate called them legendary and said it was one of the best breakfasts he's had in a while. Trust me that's a huge compliment considering Dave is the breakfast chef extraordinaire. Seriously, they were that good. I was like hello Snackster where have you been all my life. The best thing is that the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your own pocket of scrumptiousness. So we started brainstorming the ingredients we could use smore's, or brie with cranberry, or spinach with feta, or pesto with tomato, or mascarpone with lemon zest and raspberries, the list goes on! I know what you're thinking....I'm crazy! Well don't knock it til' you've tried it! Raise your hand if you have a Snackster. If your hand is raised, dig it out, dust it off and use it! I know I'll be using mine again. I'm actually inspired to pull out some other kitchen cookware that I haven't used in forever, like my Clay Pot cooker! Salute to reconnecting with my Toastmaster Snackster Maker!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Stuffed French Toast Bites

Preparation and cook time: 10 minutes

Serves 2

Cookware needed: Sandwich maker or press


  • 4 slices of bread
  • 4 tb cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries 
  • 4 tb unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon 
  • 2 tb maple syrup
Preheat sandwich maker. Butter each slice of bread, one side with 1 tb butter. Set 2 slices of bread butter side down on sandwich maker and spread cream 2 tb of cream cheese on each slice. Place the blueberries evenly on both slices of bread. Sprinkle with sugar and cream cheese. Top with second slices of bread buttered side up. Press down top of sandwich maker and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Split slices in half, serve on a plate and drizzle maple syrup over top or simply dunk slices in a small dipping bowl of syrup.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Legendary. the best breakfast I've had in a long time."

Tyler: "These are so amazing. Can I have another one?"

Zachary: "Wow, I love the cream cheese and the berries are so warm and they kinda bursted in my mouth."

Dave: "These are delicious enough to be served at the Prince Of Whales Hotel and Restaurant."

Andrea: These sweet morsels were out of this world. What a pleasant surprise. I can't wait to try other recipes and I'll be sure to post.

Look at the blueberries, melted cream cheese and cinnamon.
The pure maple syrup adds the perfect balance of sweetness.
Buttered bread, cream cheese, fresh blueberries and cinnamon ready to be made in the Snackster. Yum.
In 5 minutes these morsels were done.
We made blueberry waffles too!
This is what happens when you add too much batter!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Caribbean Party in a Bowl

Tonight was another one of those "Door Knock Dinners" for us in the Siwiec household. If you read a previous post of mine titled It'sDoor Knock Dinner Tonight, you'll remember that means making a meal based on the food you have in your refrigerator or pantry. I had boneless chicken breasts and an orange and yellow pepper so I knew I wanted to use those. Earlier in the day I spotted a can of organic black beans in the back of the cupboard and those babies were calling out to me all day. So I knew I was going to incorporate those three ingredients into my meal. At that point I still wasn't sure where I was going with my dinner theme and then BAM, my eyes met a bundle of fresh cilantro in the crisper bin. Maybe it was thoughts of the Citrus Soy Glazed Salmon I made a few nights prior or maybe it was thoughts of our upcoming Punta Cana vacation, but a Caribbean themed meal was a must! So I started cutting, chopping, dicing, marinating and grilling. Then Tyler came into the kitchen and said "Wow mom, that smells good, what are you making?" I said "Good question Tyler, because I don't know, there isn't a name for this dish yet." He laughed and said "Well you better come up with a name if you want to put it in your blog!" He was right! While I was making dinner Dave and the boys were hanging out in the living room listening to music. They were very happy and content just chilling together, I didn't want that vibe to change. So rather than eating dinner at the dining room table, I figured why not eat dinner at the coffee table! The "nameless" meal I made was ideal to be served in a bowl. So with all of the food I was making I made sure to find the biggest one I had. The food looked so gorgeous and smelled absolutely amazing that I couldn't wait to serve Dave and the boys. The colors were so alive and vibrant. The smell of the cumin and lime juice were invigorating! When I walked into the living room with the huge bowl and set it down on the coffee table, their eyes popped out and said with great enthusiasm "Whoa, what's that?" My dish was still nameless, so I told them they had to help me pick a name. After taking a few bites of this delicious tropical flared dish, we decided to name it "A Caribbean Party in a Bowl!" Brilliant name, I say! What is so great about this meal, besides the outstanding taste, is that it's easy to make and soooo easy to eat. It's served in one big bowl, where everyone just helps themselves. I literally just brought 5 bowls and 5 forks into the living room and we ate! And it can be served hot or at room temperature. It's a great meal to make if you have a group of friends over and you don't want to fuss with anything fancy. The flavors were superb! This is a keeper recipe for sure! Salute to another amazing door knock dinner and finding the perfect name for my dish!
Organic black beans, red onion, orange pepper and yellow pepper
Jasmine rice, cilantro, lime juice 
Grilled chicken with cumin, pepper, lime juice 
All of the ingredients mixed together with olive oil, lime juice and salt n pepper.
It's a party in a bowl!
A Caribbean Party in a Bowl (Click to print recipe)

Serves 8

Preparation and cook time: 40 minutes

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 tb cumin
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 4 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt n pepper
In a mixing bowl whisk olive oil, cumin, salt n pepper to taste and 1/4 t lime zest. Marinate chicken in olive oil mixture for 10 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, boil 4 cups of water for rice. Once it comes to a boil, add rice and turn heat down to low, and cover for 10 minutes or until rice is soft and fluffy. Add a little olive oil, 1/2 lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste. Set aside. Using a stove top grill pan, heat over medium to high heat and add chicken breasts. Cook on one side until brown for 7-8 minutes, turn over and cook for another 7-8 minutes or until middle is no longer pink. Using a cutting board, dice chicken. Set aside. In a large serving bowl add diced pepper, diced onion and black beans. Now add rice and stir. Now add diced chicken and stir. Add 1/2 lime juice and 2 tb olive oil over ingredients and stir well. Serve in individual bowls.

Food Impressions:

Nate: Wasn't a huge fan of the lime and cilantro.

Tyler: "This is a tropical party in a bowl. It's so tasty, like the food we have when we were on vacation" (He had 3 bowls)

Zachary: "I love this meal mom, it's so flavorful. It tastes like the food we had in Mexico."

Dave: "Festiveness in a bowl. Mango or papaya would be an excellent in this dish."

Andrea: I thought this dish was amazing. This could easily be a vegetarian dish if you didn't add the chicken. The next time I have my girlfriends over I am serving this meal! 

Our coffee table dinner!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Meal for Wally say to yourself: Citrus Soy Glazed Salmon. Wait, say it again but slower: Citrus-Soy-Glazed-Salmon. What does that sound like to you? Well it may be the middle of winter here in Buffalo but the sound alone, Citrus Soy Glazed Salmon, makes it seem like the peak of summer to me! Don't you agree? After taking the first bite of salmon I felt like my taste buds were sitting in the middle of a Florida Orange Grove. It was so refreshing. To accompany this succulent salmon, I served pan seared citrus asparagus and sweet mashed potatoes. They complimented each other so well I wasn't sure which rotation to eat my food...a bite of salmon then a bite sweet mashed potato, or a bite of asparagus then a bite of salmon, or a bite of sweet mashed potato then a bite of asparagus. Choices, Choices! So my best bet was to just take a forkful of salmon, scoop up some sweet mashed potato, then a piece of asparagus! Yep, once I figured out that combination it was a trio of yumminess on my fork for the rest of the meal. Funny thing is I noticed others at the table doing the trio forkful thing too! My dear father-in-law, Walter was one of those individuals. Wally came over for dinner tonight and his request was salmon. He is probably one of my biggest fans when it comes to cooking so I wanted to make sure I made him something he had a hankering for. So salmon it was. He loves everything I make and always boasts about my cooking to others. Food is probably more important to Wally than it is to Dave. And that's a lot! Wally "lives to eat" while others merely "eat to live." I knew this about Wally very early on in my courtship with Dave. So to score points while we were dating I tried to shmooz his father with my cooking. Hey, I figured if his dad liked my cooking he might say "son, she's a keeper." So I invited them over for dinner and made my homemade italian sauce with spaghetti and meatballs. I remember being very nervous throughout dinner waiting for his food impression, but he said nothing! I was thinking to myself, wow, he doesn't like my homemade sauce, this is terrible. I gave him a huge plateful too and I was like he is never going to finish this. He took bite after bite said nothing.  I'm thinking fine if you don't like my food at least say you like it. Nope, nothing, nadda. Not a single word complimenting my food, or my efforts. I was like I'm doomed, rather than his dad saying "she's a keeper" he going to say "keeper away" Then all of a sudden he got up, walked into the kitchen and served himself a second helping. But this time the portion was way bigger than the first! He sat down, continued to eat every last bite and still said nothing! Honestly, at that point it didn't matter if he said anything or not. The biggest compliment he gave me was helping himself to a massive second helping. Afterwards Wally told Dave he was crazy if he didn't keep me, obviously Dave agreed! To this day he tells me how amazing that first meal about memorable food impressions! The Citrus Soy Glazed Salmon was a hit with Wally too...maybe not as much as that first meal I made him, but he loved it! Salute to making another memorable food impression on Wally and salute to many many more!
Adding the orange zest! 
Pan seared citrus asparagus and sweet mashed potatoes
The trio of yumminess!
Citrus Glazed Salmon (Click to print recipe)

Serves 6

Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 6 4 oz salmon filets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 1 t orange zest
  • 4 tb soy sauce
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • salt n pepper
  • 4 tb olive oil to coat pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix olive oil, soy sauce, juice from orange, and ginger. Mix well. Marinate salmon in citrus oil for at least 10 minutes. Place salmon on a dish and coat salmon generously with salt n pepper and orange zest. In a large skillet, heat 4 tb olive oil over medium to high heat. Oil should sizzle when salmon is placed in pan. Make sure you place salmon skin side up. Cook until golden and crusty for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip salmon pieces over, now skin side down. Add extra orange zest. Place salmon on a baking sheet and cook through in the oven for 7-8 minutes. 

Food Impressions:

Nate: "I don't like sweet potatoes"

Tyler: "I don't like sweet potatoes"

Zachary: "I don't like sweet potatoes"

Dave: "Absolutely delicious. Love the salmon but it could have used more soy and orange zest."

Wally: "Excellent, excellent, excellent." (He also advised me to stop putting my recipes on the blog. He thinks I should publish a cookbook first. So sweet!)

Andrea: Light and refreshing. Flavors were amazing! Salmon was cooked to perfection, thanks to Dave, crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. 

Sharing Your Food Impressions!

 Nothing makes me more excited than someone trying one of the recipes from my blog! 
Keep em' coming folks. 
Your food looks so delicious!
Here's Christine's Gnudi recipe!
Here's Christa's Chicken Parmesan Recipe!
 Tom looks like a happy man!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bursting Berry Muffins!

Bursting with Blueberries and Blackberries
For those of you who know me, you know I'm not much of a baker. Plus, I'm not that great at it. I thoroughly enjoy eating desserts and sweet treats but as far as making them, not so much. I prefer cooking over baking because baking is such an exact science...if you don't follow the recipe to a tee it won't turn out. As for cooking, you can add a little of this, a little of that, or tweak it to your liking and chances are it will turn out decent. Actually just this past weekend my friend Nicole and I were talking about this exact subject, baking vs. cooking. She prefers baking because it is an exact science. She further explained that she is less likely to screw up the recipe if she has to follow it precisely. I thought that was interesting way of looking at it. I wish I was a good baker. No wait, I take that back. If I was good, I'd be making desserts all the time and THAT would not be good for my scale! Today the boys had a full day snowboarding lessons at Holiday Valley so it was tranquil having the whole day to myself. I went to the Ellicottville Library (love that place) and read by the fire, went to lunch in town at Katy's Cafe, and then went home and baked muffins! I have to confess, I am a sucker for cute cooking accouterments! I found these adorable Parchemin Muffin Cups at Walmart for $2.00 (hey, the Springville Walmart is cool, don't poke fun!). I couldn't resist buying them so I just had to make muffins! So that was what I did today! The blueberries and blackberries looked amazing especially for not being in season. My muffins, turned out spectacular! Aren't the Parchemin cups cute? And they sure make the muffins look pretty! It's like my muffins are wearing a pretty black dress...look'n all fancy! Actually the muffins not only look good but also taste scrumptious, if I do say so myself! They are bursting with berry flavor and what really makes this moist and airy muffin to die the icing on top! Heavenly I tell you! Have it for breakfast or have it for dessert, heck have it for dinner and you'll be beyond satisfied! Salute to finding the cutest outfit for my Bursting Blueberry and Blackberry Muffins!
Gently stir the berries in the batter 
Fresh out of the oven!
 Breakfast, so good with a cup of coffee
Topping it off with icing...yum!
Berry Muffins (click to print recipe)

serves 12

Prep and cook time total: 40 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup or 4 tb unalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt 
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
For Icing: (optional)
  • 1/4 cup confectionary sugar
  • 1 tb water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl mix eggs, butter and vanilla until well mixed and fluffy. Add sour cream to egg mixture and mix well. Now combine dry ingredients with egg mixture and stir well. It will be firm. When well mixed add berries and gently stir. Using muffin cups scoop batter equally into cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean when inserted. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before eating.
For icing mix confectionary sugar and water until well mixed. When muffins are cool drizzle on top.

Food Impressions:

Everyone thought these were absolutely delicious. They were dense yet moist and airy. The icing added a subtle sweet taste. Good for breakfast or a dessert. Pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds for a warm treat!
My boys shredded the hills at Holiday Valley today!
Here's the cute Parchemin Cups

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What took me so long to make you Pulled Pork?

Don't you just want to take a huge bite?
Believe it or not I have never made BBQ Pulled Pork before! It even amazes me that I've never attempted making it. I love pulled pork and have always wanted to make it, but truth be told, I've never made it because I've always purchased my BBQ Pulled Pork from Rich Products Red Brick Market on Niagara Street. It's absolutely delicious and so easy to make because you just pop it in the oven. Over 10 years ago, one of my spa chick friends Tracy hosted a birthday party and she served Rich's pulled pork. Let me tell you, it was so good that I've been hooked ever since! It's not always so convenient trekking out to Red Brick Market for pulled pork though, so I knew I needed to attempt this dish myself. I started looking on Pinterest for mouth watering pulled pork recipes and holy-choices batman! I was like hello Pinner People, I just need a basic BBQ pulled pork recipe...I don't want to add pineapples or a can of Dr. Pepper! Geez! Thank goodness out of all the choices, every recipe looked so darn easy to make. So don't fear, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to make pulled pork. I've mentioned before, I rarely follow a recipe exactly, so I looked at a few and combined what I think seemed tasty. So that's what I did and boy did it turn out suuuper goood! I'm kicking myself for not making this years ago! Live and learn I guess. OH don't worry, don't fret my little frozen pulled pork deliciousness from Red Brick Market, I'll still use you in a pinch! Preparing pulled pork is a literally 5 minutes. However, cooking pulled pork is a different is a very timely process, like 8-10 hours in the crockpot. Today we went night skiing at Holiday Valley so my pulled pork had time to cook all day at home and I just took it with us to the lodge for dinner. It was an excellent choice and a perfect ski lodge meal! If you are like me and waited 40 plus years to make this, get moving and buy yourself some pork butt today and try it! Salute to finally making my own BBQ Pulled Pork!
Just 5 minutes to prepare ingredients in crockpot!
After 8 hours of cooking, can you smell the deliciousness?
Now ready to shred the pork, it's so incredibly tender and moist
The pork is happily bathing in the juices!
What a masterpiece!
BBQ Pulled Pork (click to print)

Serves 12 plus
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 hours in crockpot


  • 6 lb boneless pork shoulder/butt
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with chili peppers
  • 1 bottle spicy BBQ sauce (I used Baby Rays Sweet and Spicy brand)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium diced onion
In  a crockpot, add pork shoulder, diced onion, canned tomatoes, 1/2 bottle BBQ sauce and water. Cook on high for 8 hours. Pork should be very tender when pierced with a fork. Using two forks, shred the pork in the crockpot and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Add more BBQ to your liking. Serve on rolls or fajita shells.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Wow, this is super duper yummy. Are there onions in this?" (We told Nate no because he despises onions. See Nate it had onions and you loved it!)

Tyler: "It's so juicy. It's also a little spicy and I like that!" 

Zachary: "Sweet and Spicy at the same time!"

Dave: "Oh, Wow, this is gooood." As he said taking his first bite!

Andrea: I loved the kick of spiciness to this dish. I can't wait to make this again, and again and again!

What an awesome time night skiing at Holiday Valley!
A pre-skiing shot to warm up before night skiing!