Monday, December 29, 2014

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe

Hi dolls! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. This year, my husband and I hosted Christmas Eve and it ROCKED. It was so nice to have both families together under one roof. For the special occasion, I wanted to make a really awesome dessert. My boss is an avid baker, so I knew she would have some fun ideas for me. She gave me this recipe, and said that she makes it for every holiday at her home. Her family BEGS for it! I took her word for it, and she wasn't wrong. This cake is absolutely delicious! My husband is not a big chocolate person, and even he couldn't get enough of this cake.

I made a few minor tweaks to the original recipe (outlined below). What made this cake extra special to me was the sprinkles. A co-worker gave them to me - they are from her family in Holland. They are the real deal, no joke chocolate sprinkles and they were the perfect topping for this cake! She said when she visits her family in Holland, they melt these sprinkles on top of bread for breakfast (OMG). Check out the pictures below, and the recipe from Hershey's. Enjoy!

What You'll Need
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/3 cups water
1/2 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candy (optional - I didn't use)
Buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
Additional crushed hard peppermint candy (optional - I didn't use)
Sprinkles (not from the original recipe, I added these)

Directions for Cake - Hershey's Old Fashioned Cake Recipe

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl; beat on high speed of mixer 3 minutes. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder; add alternately with water to butter mixture, beating until blended. Add candy, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

4. Frost with buttercream frosting. Just before serving, garnish with peppermint candy, if desired. Makes 12 servings.

Buttercream Frosting (makes one bowl)

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Hope you guys have a great New Year's! Until next time .. xoxo

Monday, December 8, 2014

20 Unique Gifts Under $100! For the Baker, Chef or Food/Drink Lover on Your List!

Tired of seeing all the same boring crap on every website for the “food lover in your life?” Not here! I have a lot of bakers, chefs and food enthusiasts in my life, so I myself have been searching the internet high and low for the perfect gifts. I’ve compiled some that I thought were unique and interesting, and where to buy them. I tried to include different price ranges for everyone on your list. All gifts are $100 or less. Enjoy!

  Single Serve Stack Wines
Single Stack - $12.99
Set of 4 Stacks - $49.99

Picnic Backpack for Two

Muffin Top Baking Cups

Berry Measuring Spoons

NJ License Plate Cutting Board (available in other states)

Zoku Ice Cream Maker Gift Set

 Set of 6 - Hawaiian Salt Collection by Spice Lab

Ice Cream Cone USB Drive

Foot Network Magazine - 1 Year Subscription + Free Tote

Bodum Caffettiera Colored French Press, 8 C. - Assorted 
Originally $34.95, now $14.95

 Mackenzie Childs Teapot

 Toaster Grilled Cheese Bag 
Dishwasher safe, can re-use one bag up to 50 times!

 Spiderman Apron

  Pizzacraft - The Perfect Pizza Grilling Pizza Stone

Alice in Wonderland Silver Flask
ValleyGirlDesigns on

Nostalgia Electrics Retro Cookie Gun and Decorator

kate spade new york Pearl Place Set of 2 Collection
$50 for set of two
Flavored Olive Oil Sampler Set (6 Bottles X 50ml Each)

Mini Cupcake Spatulas
$3.49 each

Wilton Checkerboard Cake Pan Set

Hope you guys got some good ideas from my list! And remember - always look for coupons or coupon codes online before purchasing. There are a lot of good deals during the holidays, so do a little research before buying. I also love the Retail Me Not app - it gives you coupons daily and tells you which stores are having sales. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Making Pizza - Step by Step

How good does this look?! My husband and I were so proud when we finally sat down to devour it.

My father started making pizza from scratch a few years ago, and it never disappoints. He is so good at it, he has friends and family over specifically for pizza parties! And as you could imagine, no one ever goes home hungry. He shared his pizza dough and pizza sauce recipes with us, and the pizza came out awesome! Of course there is always room for improvement, but is homemade pizza ever really BAD?

My dad uses both recipes from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. For those who have never watched the show, it's actually a pretty fascinating concept. The chefs try hundreds of recipes in their test kitchen, to determine the best of the best - best mac & cheese recipe, best way to cook stew, the best bake ware, and so forth. As my mother would say "Why try a ton of different recipes to find the best one, when they've already done it for you?" So, this wonderful show spawned a couple of cookbooks, and my family uses them constantly!

Pizza Dough recipe (From America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Makes about 2 pounds of dough, enough for 3 (12 inch) pizzas

4 1/4 cups bread flour
1 envelope instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

We knead ours in our Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook and it works wonderfully. Others use a food processor. You can of course knead by hand, but be prepared for it to take a while. And for your arms to hurt!

Pizza Sauce Recipe (From America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

Classic Cheese Pizza - How to
1 pizza dough (above)
pizza sauce to liking (above)
12 ounces mozzarella shredded (3 cups)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
6 tablespoons torn fresh basil (we didn't add)

1. Heat up pizza or baking stone at 500 degrees (about 30 min). If you don't have one, I've seen people use a regular baking sheet as well.

2. Roll out pizza dough on a floured counter, and cut evenly into 3 pieces. Work with one piece, and cover the other 2 in plastic wrap. If you're only making one pizza, freeze the other two. They freeze well.

3. Shape and stretch the dough into a 12 inch round on parchment paper. Ours was NOT nice and round, just do the best you can. Add your sauce, cheeses, oil, as seen in our photos below. Make sure to leave some space for your crust.

4. Slide pizza and parchment paper onto pizza stone or baking sheet.

5. Bake 8-13 min, until crust edges are brown and until cheese is golden in spots.

6. Remove from oven, transfer pizza onto a cutting board and discard parchment paper.

7. Cut into slices.

8. Enjoy and make everyone jealous of your pizza!

Adding our pizza sauce and cheeses! I'll admit, I kinda overdid it with the cheese =)
Last time, we used parchment paper and it burned a little bit in our oven, yikes.
This time, we used the back of a baking sheet with some cornmeal.
The cornmeal helps slide the flimsy pizza onto the hot pizza stone. 

 My husband and I sitting on the floor, watching our pizza cook! 
We weren't sure how quickly our oven would cook, so we just sat and watched it =)

Ta DAAA!! We added some pepperoni to half our pizza. 
It came out delicious and we will be definitely trying it again. 

A few tips:

1. How long to leave the pizza in takes time to master, in my opinion. I thought the pizza was cooked well, whereas Greg thought it could have been cooked a little longer to crisp up the crust more. I guess it depends on your taste.

2. Getting a paddle peel (wooden paddle used to take pizza in and out of oven) might make sense if you are serious about making pizza. This was only our second time doing it ourselves, and could have definitely used one. As I mentioned before, it's kinda tough getting the raw dough into the oven since you can't really touch it without it ripping, folding, etc. 

3. Get creative with toppings! There are plenty of websites out there to get inspiration from - my dad has been on a bacon and pineapple pizza kick lately. It sounded disgusting when he first mentioned it, but now it's one of my favorites! You don't have to go crazy - add some pepperoni or try a white cheese pizza.

4. Experiment with different amounts of pizza sauce and cheese to get the mix just right. 

5. Practice rolling out your dough. This part doesn't come easy. We took a cooking class last year, and our instructor showed us how to make pasta dough (very similar). Getting the dough the right shape, thickness, consistency takes practice, so don't get discouraged. 

As we continue to improve our pizza making techniques, I will be sure to update you guys on any new tips and tricks we learn along the way. As always, thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Turkey Tacos - Easy Weekly Meal

What You'll Need:
1 pound ground turkey (we get the 93% lean)
A non-stick skillet
Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican shredded cheese
La Banderita Soft Tacos (we try to get the low carb ones - they taste the same!)
1 packet of Taco Seasoning mix
Hot sauce (optional)

*This makes about 8 tacos. We usually have 2 each and that's enough for us. We take half the ground turkey and freeze it (4 tacos for now, 4 tacos for another day after work). For four tacos, we use half a packet of taco seasoning, and cheese and hot sauce to our liking.

How to Make:
1. Heat up skillet on stove top. Press ground turkey in pan and flatten. Brown one side well then flip turkey over. Because we are using non-stick, we don't need any oil or butter in the pan.
2. Break up turkey into small taco-sized pieces using spatula or wooden spoon.
3. Add some water (about 1/2 cup) and taco seasoning, and reduce.
4. Add seasoned turkey into the soft tacos, add cheese and hot sauce, and roll up into taco shape.
5. EAT!

These tacos are SO easy. They are a great meal when you don't really feel like cooking. The turkey cooks pretty quickly and that's the only "cooking" part needed. Sometimes my husband makes his own taco mix vs. the pre-made mix. We like to heat up the soft tacos on the stove top or the microwave right before we put the turkey in - it keeps everything warm and helps to melt the cheese. You can definitely use a regular skillet vs. a non-stick, just make sure to add some oil to avoid sticking.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homemade Italian Biscotti

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 Cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp of Anise OIL (not extract)
5 Cups flour (sift into a bowl along with baking powder)
6 tsp baking powder
Cream butter well, gradually adding sugar until fluffy!!

  1. Add: 1 egg at a time
  2. Add: anise oil
  3. Cream well, add flour and baking powder.
  4. Divide batter into 4 loaves -
  5. 1 loaf to a pan because loaf grows!!
  6. Rotate pans in oven midway through cooking process.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  8. Let cool on wire rack, then slice cookie on an angle.
  9. I do not double bake my cookie, but you can if you prefer your cookie that way. 
My aunt made these for my husband and I when we went to visit, and oh my god are they good! She generously let us take the leftovers home, and I brought them to work for my coworkers. We all had one with our morning coffee and they were a big hit! One person said "you can tell that these are homemade, they taste like an authentic Italian cookie." And there you have it! I fully intend on making these now that I have the recipe.  They are plain enough to be a crowd pleaser, which is nice for holidays or a party.

To mix it up a bit, my aunt suggested using dried sour cherries and orange oil instead of anise. Oils might be tough to find - check places like Michael's or a mom and pop baking store. Or of course, check online and get it from a reputable retailer.

Hope you guys enjoyed, bring out your inner Italian baker and try making these!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins

Hi everyone! It's Monday and that really sucks. So let's look at cute things instead of being productive. Sound good?

So I had a Halloween party this weekend, and made these adorable little rice krispie treat pumpkins! I got the recipe from Pinterest (original recipe here) and went to work. Here's the original recipe, which I decided to double:

3 Tbsp. butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
red and yellow food coloring or orange gel coloring
5-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups crispy rice cereal
mini tootsie rolls

  1. In a large saucepan, melt and slightly brown butter on medium heat. Add vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Add food coloring until desired orange color is reached. Add cereal and stir until completely combined. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle.
  2. When mixture has cooled enough, spray your hands with cooking spray and mold cereal mix into circles. (I made nine medium sized pumpkins). Unwrap a tootsie roll and press into each pumpkin top. Add candy for the eyes and noses (we used a little frosting to adhere). Eat and enjoy!
Sounds easy enough, right? Um yeah, not really. So first of all, when I decided to double the recipe, it wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had. The mixture was huge and so hard to work with. Please consult photo below of enormous orange rice krispie treat mixture taking over my stove:

Yeah. So that happened. The original recipe said that it makes 9 pumpkins. So I figured hey, 18 pumpkins would be better. I guess the person who originally made them made them HUGE, because I kept rolling them into balls and had a TON. I ended up throwing half the mixture out which sucked. It was also tough rolling the mixture into balls to begin with - if you press too hard the cereal breaks. After I rolled them all, pushing the tootsie rolls in the top was also difficult. They wouldn't stay, and again, if you push too hard the cereal starts breaking off!

Needless to say, I don't think i'll be making these again. They looked cute, sure, but I was going for an easy, no bake recipe for a party and it was just a pain in the ass. Hope everyone had a fun Halloween!! =)

Friday, October 24, 2014

10 Reasons Why You Should Cook This Weekend

To some, cooking seems like a daunting task. You get home late from work and you’re tired. You just want to have a nice glass of whiskey and watch shitty reality television until you get tired enough to sleep (just me?) Weekends are a great time to try out new recipes. Stop simply trolling Pinterest and drooling over recipes that you think are out of reach – try them out! And if you screw up? There’s always take out! Here are ten reasons why you should cook this weekend:

1. Wine pairs well with cooking. And we like wine.

2. Cooking something from scratch is an unbelievable feeling. It’s satisfying. You’ll be proud of yourself when you sit down to a kick ass meal that you created.

3. You’ll know exactly what goes into your food. Watching your calories? Cook a healthier, low cal meal. Hate vegetables? Don’t include them. You won’t have to worry “is there something I can eat at that restaurant?”

4. Try out a new cuisine. Always cook Italian? Try an Asian stir fry. You might find a recipe you love, like we did with this Orange Chicken recipe!

5. Less stress. We all work hard. If you’re having a lazy weekend, make a pot of sauce that takes a few hours to cook and catch up on your magazine reading.

6. Make extra and freeze it for during the week. If you’re making a pot of sauce, freeze the extra in Tupperware for an easy meal you can defrost during the workweek.

7. Practice for when you have company. My husband and I love having people over the house! But timing can be a challenge. Practice cooking your main course, side dishes, etc and make sure they are all hot and on the table at relatively the same time.

8. Practice your knife skills. My knife skills could use a little (a LOT) of work. Take your time and cut things properly. Use Youtube and learn the correct way to cut potatoes, vegetables, anything.

9. Cook a family recipe. My mom collected all of these amazing recipes from family and friends for my bridal shower. It’s so special to have everyone’s favorite recipes at my fingertips. Don’t have many? Call your mom, grandma, aunt, friend – anyone! They will be flattered that you want one of their recipes. There’s a reason they have that recipe on hand, it’s a good one!

10. Up your game by posting photos of what you made to Facebook, Instagram, etc. Your friends and family might throw you some encouragement, and may even want the recipe!

Hope you guys enjoyed! Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cacio E Pepe: A sauce so quick, you’ll be done making it before your pasta is done boiling!

Hi guys! Building on my theme of easy weekday meals, this one is a great recipe to keep in your back pocket. Not only is it quick to make, but most people have the ingredients on hand in their kitchen already. If you have a box of pasta, black pepper and cheese, consider your dinner DONE.

My husband and I love this recipe. We learned it from our awesome cooking class at ICE (review of the class here). Since then, we’ve worked it into our weekday meal rotation. You can make this sauce in a SNAP – start boiling your pasta, and you’ll be done making the sauce before the pasta is done. Sound good? It is.

Here is the actual recipe from our cooking class:

A few quick things:
  • The recipe says to use two different types of cheese - we only used Parmigiano and it came out fine, of course! If you have both cheese, great.
  • The recipe is for an entire BOX of pasta. We made the mistake last time of only making enough pasta for two people, then making a LOT of cheese and pepper sauce haha. Scale it down if you are cooking for two.
  • Don't forget to save some of the pasta water, it's the key to this recipe! Otherwise, the pepper and cheese will have nothing to mix with to create the sauce.
  • Enjoy! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Guinness Beef Stew

How fantastic does that look?! This recipe is such an awesome fall/winter dish. You get such a warming, homey feeling while eating it. Below is the recipe we got from America’s Test Kitchen and it’s definitely a keeper. My husband was awesome enough to write down the recipe for our recipe book. We used our Dutch oven to cook this, and it worked out great. We changed two things slightly - we used ground thyme instead of fresh (ShopRite was out of fresh thyme), and we didn’t add the parsley. This meal is awesome for lazy days – like a Sunday – when you have a few hours to let it cook. It takes a bit of work up front – cutting the meat, pealing and cutting potatoes, measuring things out, etc but the oven does the rest of the work. And hey, who doesn't love food with a little bit of Guinness in it?!

Greg and I have been trying to make new recipes each week, so expect to see more new posts soon! Hope you guys enjoyed, have a great week!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Simple Butter Cookies

Hi dolls! I finally got around to using my cookie press for the first time this weekend. I used this recipe from, but made a few slight changes. See below!

•24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
•1¾ cups granulated sugar
•2 egg yolks
•2 tsp. vanilla extract
•3½ cups all-purpose flour
•Red, pink, orange, or multicolored decorating sugar

(This makes 5-6 batches, I cut everything above in half).

Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350°. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add yolks and vanilla, beat again to combine, and then beat in flour.

From here, the original recipe from says to roll out the dough into 1 inch rounds. I used my Pampered Chef Cookie Press instead! Since Halloween is quickly approaching, I decided to use the pumpkin insert. I pressed the cookies onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake until cookies are lightly golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest on baking sheets 2 minutes, then gently transfer to baking racks to cool.

And there you have it! These cookies are so tasty on their own, so I didn't want to overdo them. I sprinkled some colored sugar on top for some simple decoration. I'll definitely use this recipe around Christmas time, they are so versatile and easy to make. The cookie press, on the other hand, is a little tough for me to use. I might just need some more practice!! Hope you guys enjoyed =)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Orange Chicken with Egg Noodles

Hi dolls! My husband and I have been pretty good with our weekly recipe planning lately - we'll go food shopping on the weekend and plan out our meals for during the work week. We have a few favorites in our rotation, but are always on the look out for something new, easy and delicious.

Enter: this orange chicken recipe. It was so delicious and something DIFFERENT. We had most of the ingredients on hand which was good. Orange chicken is usually served over rice, but we didn't have any HA. We used egg noodles instead which worked out great - the sticky, sweet sauce and the plain noodles were a great combo. See recipe below and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Time I Caught An Awesome Sea Bass - And Ate Him.

I am NOT a seafood person. Like at all. The closest I've gotten to eating any type of seafood is fried calamari that's been fried within an inch of its life. My husband is allergic to most seafood, so that's another reason I've always steered clear of it. So imagine my surprise when I actually ate sea bass and fluke last weekend!

My husband and I took Friday off from work, grabbed my father in law, and set sail on a 7am fishing charter boat for 5 hours. Being up at 4:45am? Not my fave. Spending the entire day outside fishing? One of my faves (I've been fishing since I was a kid). So I bit the bullet, grabbed some coffee and off we went.

Below is my "keeper" as they say - for all the non fisherman out there, that means the fish was of regulation length to take home! My father in law caught a few sea bass too, as well as a nice sized fluke! The mates on the boat take your keepers to the back of the boat to clean and cut, which is awesome. See photos and recipes for both below!

 Me and my sea bass!

 The beautiful 50 person charter boat in Long Island. Such beautiful weather and great company!
My husband rocks. The top is the fluke my father in law caught, and the bottom is my sea bass. I'm so glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Plus - everything Greg cooks is great so I knew he wouldn't steer me wrong!
To cook Sea Bass:
Season with paprika, garlic, salt, thyme and black pepper. Cook on grill.
To cook Fluke:
Marinate fluke in lemon, lime and orange juice, and rosemary for 15 minutes. Cut thin rounds of lemon, lime and orange, and cook fluke on grill directly on top of rounds.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heart Shaped Donuts and Party Sprinkles!

Hi dolls! Wanted to share the super cute heart-shaped donuts I made this weekend! I went to a bbq yesterday, and wanted to bring something fun for dessert. I made chocolate donuts in my heart-shaped Wilton pan, and topped them off with an easy vanilla glaze and sprinkles. Check out the photo and recipes below, and my comments on how I think the recipe tasted. Enjoy!

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts
From the Wilton Heart Doughnut Pan package

Makes 24 doughnuts


1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray (I used Pam for Baking).

In large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla; mix gently until just combined. Fill each doughnut cup approximately 1/2 full (2 tablespoons batter).

Bake 4-5 minutes or until the tops of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Let cool in pan for 3 minutes before removing. Repeat with remaining batter. Finish doughnuts with desired toppings. Doughnuts are best served fresh.

Taste of Home
Quick Vanilla Glaze

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until
smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken if desired. Spoon over
bread. Yield: 1/2 cup.

So here's my conclusion: the donuts LOOKED great, but the taste wasn't all that wonderful. I didn't have buttermilk on hand, so I looked up the sub - milk and vinegar. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, after the donuts had baked and I tasted one, they seemed to have a slight bitter after taste. So i'm assuming it was the vinegar. If I had time, I would have run to the store and picked up some buttermilk. Oh well, lesson learned I guess.

The vanilla glaze was great and very simple to make - I put some pink Wilton food gel in it to give it some color. I had some pink edible hearts and rainbow sprinkles to top them off with. They looked so cute, I just wish the taste was better. I definitely want to try more donut recipes using this pan. The prep didn't take too long, and the donuts bake quickly - 4-5min. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DIY Burger and Hotdog Station

Hi friends! This weekend was really special, and it's not over yet! My cousin Rebecca came to visit us from Florida and we were all so excited! We wanted to do something special, obv. My husband found a few photos online of DIY burger stations and I was obsessed with recreating the idea with my own spin on it. See below!

So awesome, right?! I liked this display for a few reasons - of course it looked adorable, but it was also functional. My husband grilled all the burgers and hotdogs, and set them next to this station. Instead of preparing 11 people's plates, everyone helped themselves and were happy with all the options!

The clear glass servers in the front are actually mini dessert servers. The white servers behind that are small saucers. The four bigger bowls on each side are fun party bowls that I usually put nuts or snacks in. The beautiful plate that they're sitting on is from Tiffany's - a gift from my sister in law for our engagement! And lastly, the marker board I made myself. It was super easy! I bought a cheap picture frame from Michael's, put in some polka dot scrapbook paper, and used erasable markers to write down the menu. We change it every week, even if it's just the two of us home!

My beautiful cousin and I! So special that we got to spend time together <3 enjoyed="" for="" guys="" hope="" p="" reading="" thanks="" xo="" you="">

Friday, August 8, 2014

Delicious Skirt Steak and Buffalo Rice

I don't know how I got so lucky, but my husband really kicks ass. We've been making a conscious effort to go food shopping on weekends, and plan out our dinner menu for the week. We both work in the city, and get home around 7pm. Knowing that you already have the ingridients to prepare dinner is a great feeling! We are always looking for quick and tasty recipes that we can add to our dinner rotation. Above is a delicious skirt steak and buffalo rice that my husband prepared for us! It was so juicy, tender and flavorful! I asked him if we could have it once a week, it was seriously that good. Here's how he prepped the skirt steak:

Salt and petter both sides, then put a little olive oil (about 3 TBSP in a small dish). Add some paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of coriander, a pinch of cinnamon and mix until it's almost like a paste (the oil helps everything stick and mix together).

Slather your mixture on both sides of the steak, and throw in a VERY HOT pan for about 2.5 minutes on each side. Cut on a bias across the grain into thin slices. We served it over rice - Knorr Rice Sides, Buffalo Chicken Flavor. The rice is quick and easy, and has a little kick to it. It married great with the steak.

So there it is, folks! I will try to share some of our daily recipes as we make them. I made a little dry-erase menu board, and update it with our weekly menu. It reminds us of what we need to buy at the store, and gets us excited to cook together.

Hope you guys enjoyed! xoxo, Dana and Greg

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bourbon BBQ Hickory Smokehouse - Our New Favorite Local Joint!

As some of you know, my husband and I just bought our first house a few months ago! Since then, we've been decorating, nesting, and exploring our new town. Last week, we tried a new restaurant - Bourbon BBQ Hickory Smokehouse in Wyckoff, New Jersey. We walked in, and it felt very homey. It's pretty small (about 12 tables) and very casually decorated. Any restaurant that has a roll of paper towels on each table is OK by me. They also had various homemade bbq sauces on the table which my husband loved to sample. We liked it from the moment we walked in!

We visited on a Thursday, and there were a lot of people dining. Always a good sign. My husband was smart enough to read up on the place beforehand, and it's BYOB. We brought a bottle of chardonnay, which ended up being a funny conversation starter with our very nice waiter. Later, an older gentleman came over (who we think was the owner/manager) that was very sweet - he said he lived in our town for 33 years and chatted with us for a while. Very friendly and welcoming staff!

Now to the food. We ordered 6 buffalo wings as an appetizer. They came out with bbq sauce instead, but we ate them anyway. Very well cooked and crispy, good flavor. For dinner I got a half rack of ribs, fries and mashed potatoes. Can you believe the below is a HALF rack of ribs?! They were very good, I can't believe I almost finished them. Fries were good - nicely seasoned and crispy. The mashed potatoes were very good - I like a hearty, thicker mashed. They came with gravy on top which isn't my favorite, but it was pretty good nonetheless. My husband got the sampler - ribs, brisket and pulled pork. He liked the ribs and brisket. He said the pulled pork wasn't bad, he just wished they were a little smokier. All in all, the food was great, the atmosphere was warm and laid back, and the staff couldn't have been nicer. We will definitely be back and bring our friends!

Hope you guys enjoyed! If you are in the area and love bbq, you should pay them a visit! xo

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Looking for the BEST Donuts Ever? Your Search is Over!

Everyone has that food or dessert that reminds them strongly of their childhood. Judickies Bakery in Bayonne NJ does that for me. Every Sunday dinner, holiday or birthday, my grandparents would stop at this fabulous local bakery and pick up the most delicious donuts on the planet. “Dunkin Donuts donuts are great too!” you argue. They are. But there’s something manufactured about Dunkin Donuts and chain bakeries to me.

Judickies donuts are different. They taste like…a little Italian woman is in the back rolling out the dough and preparing them by hand with care. Deep frying them. Choosing what sprinkles to decorate the tops with. Putting the new batch in the front bakery window. They taste like LOVE. As an adult, my eyes still light up when my grandmother brings a dozen to a family gathering. They are just as good as the first day I bit into one. If you are remotely in the area of Bayonne, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a sprinkle donut!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Candied Grapefruit Cupcakes! Food Network Recipe and Mother's Day Weekend Food!

Hi friends! I hope all the mommas out there had a wonderful mother’s day! I was very fortunate to get to see my mom and my mother in law in the same weekend! We had a barbeque at our place on Saturday, and took my mom to brunch on Sunday. See photos below!

So the real reason for this post - I made these killer cupcakes! I wanted to try something new and fun. I subscribe to Food Network magazine (which I absolutely devour each month, so much great info) and these citrusy cupcakes caught my eye. I will tell you – they are time consuming to make from start to finish. I think it took me about 2 hours to make the batter, let the cupcakes bake, make the frosting, then candy the fruit. All in all, I think it was totally worth it because they seemed to be a big hit!

They were sweet and tart all at once! The candied zest really adds a little extra something to it. They're a great alternative to just plain old chocolate and vanilla cupcakes - refreshing and springy!

Now, for the rest of Mother's Day weekend!

My awesome husband and his new baby! Let's just say we've been eating a whole lot of awesome grilled meats!

Example: This perfect lamb cooked two ways. It was absolutely delicious!

Growing up, my parents always had fresh flowers in the house. So now I do the same thing! Bought these beautiful lillies from Shop Rite, believe it or not!

My lovely mother in law came over for a BBQ!

My sister in law brought over her fondue set. We had chocolate fondue with fruit for dessert!

On Sunday, we took my mom to this cute little brunch place in Fort Lee called Khloe Bistrot
The furniture and decor was very antiquey and quirky.
And the most important part - the food was fantastic!
It's a very small place, and the food took a little while to come out, but everyone enjoyed their food. Very highly recommended. It's BYOB so we brought a few bottles of white wine. So fun!

And last but not least - my "little" brother is all grown up!
He moved out of the house and has his own awesome apartment all to himself.
So proud of him!

Hope you guys enjoyed this post! If you're interested in the Pink Grapefruit cupcake recipe, click this link!