Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bangers and Mash Sausage Rolls

Bangers Mash Rolls

I don't know if it's a fairly new thing but for the past 6 months or so I kept getting these little videos on my Facebook feed from Tasty. There are short instructional videos and I drool over almost all of them.

I started to save them in Facebook. Did you know that you can do that? I had no clue either until someone showed me. So I had a few Tasty videos saved and I would look at them from time to time and this Bangers and Mash video just kept poking me in the side you know. Make me. Make me. I told my hubby about it and he was like "oh yeah, make that". So I did.

It was super easy to throw together. I happened to have had mashed potatoes left over from the previous nights meal so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to throw it together.

I bought big, fat breakfast sausages from my company cafeteria, but you could use a regular Italian sausage if you'd like. My youngest son really loved them and has asked me several time when I'll be making them again. Safe to say these will be in rotation at my house. I made 4 with this recipe, but I'll have to double it next time!

For those of you who haven't heard of Bangers and Mash.....also known as sausages and mash, is a traditional British Isles dish made of mashed potatoes and sausages, the latter of which may consist of a variety of flavored sausage made of pork or beef or a Cumberland sausage. It is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, baked beans, or peas. It is mostly eaten in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Shout out to my family of friends across the pond....this one's for you! xoxo

Bangers Mash Roll 2s

Bangers And Mash Sausage Rolls
original recipe from Tasty.
4 Sausages - I used big fat breakfast sausages, any larger sausage would work.
Mashed Potatoes /cold
1 sheet Puff Pastry /thawed
1 Egg, beaten

Brown the Sausages on all sides in a large skillet - until mostly cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly. Unroll each sheet of puff pastry and cut into 4 pieces. Spread a little mashed potato over each pastry coming withing a half inch from the border of the pastry. Top with cooked sausage and additional mashed potato on top. Roll up each sheet - pinch together to seal and trim off any excess. Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet - seam side down - and brush each roll with beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375˚F for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crispy on all sides and the meat has cooked through.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lunch Lady Brownies - or as my guys calls them The Best Brownies Ever!

Lunch Lady Brownies2JPG

Hello lovely blog readers!

I'm still getting back in the swing of things here in Rhode Island. I'm in the middle of radiation and doing very well. I am a bit more tired than usual, but over all I'm feeling good and trying to return to life as normal as much as I can.

A few weeks ago we hosted a little get together for the NFL playoffs. My team (The Patriots) lost, but we had a great time with friends and ate some delicious food together.

No get together would be complete without a sweet at the end right? I went old school and looked online for a brownie recipe. I wanted something fudgy and cakey all at the same time with a great frosting too. That's not too much to ask for is it? I'll admit it, when it comes to brownies, I like them all. I haven't met a brownie that I don't like, but I was aiming for one that had that perfect little chew to it and boy did I find it.

Here is a little background on these amazing brownies from Saltbox House:
This brownie recipe is no ordinary recipe. This recipe was first made in a Jr. High School cafeteria in a small town in Idaho. A lunch lady made these brownie so perfect that they were entered in local bake sales and fund raisers. This recipe has been around for more than 50 years and still attracts so many children each year. I was given this recipe by my aunt who worked in the school cafeteria and knew this wonderful women. These brownies are the best of both worlds. They are cake-like with the chewy density of a cookie. They really are a delicious piece of history!

I think I found my new "go-to" brownie recipe! I omitted the nuts this time because my youngest doesn't like them and requested that I leave them out this time, but next time they are going in.

Lunch Lady Brownies

Lunch Lady Brownies
Original recipe from Bonneville Junior High Cafeteria via Saltbox House.
2 sticks butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

For Frosting – make while the brownies bake!
¼ cup softened butter
¼ cup milk
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
Dash salt
Beat all the ingredients together. Frost brownies while still warm.

Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the cocoa and mix until smooth. Add the flour and sugar and mix to combine. Add eggs, vanilla and nuts (if you are using). Mix until just combined. Don’t overmix! Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 baking pan. Batter will be thick.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Wait 10 minutes to frost the brownies. You want to frost them when they are warm. Let cool before cutting and serving.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Smashed Sweet potatoes

Hi everyone!

I know it's been awhile since I posted but I have a most excellent reason for it....I've been feeling well and eating well and enjoying life again!

I had such a wonderful time between Thanksgiving and the new year. Now that my chemo is done and my taste buds are back, I feel like I'm back for the first time in a very long time.

My sweet tooth and I went a little crazy over the holidays. I ate things that I haven't eaten in almost 2 years, but I enjoyed every bite and I'm not sorry for it one little bit.

I started radiation last week and so far, so good. I'll finish with that in about 4 weeks. I am back on track now watching my carbs and sugars again but we all need a little sweetness in our lives from time to time don't we?

Smashed Sweet potatoes 4

When I need a little something sweet and I don't want to turn to processed sugars I find myself looking at Mr. Sweet Potato. He's my carb for a nice little sweet treat on my dinner plate.

I love smashed potatoes but they are so much higher in carbs than sweet potatoes, so I can eat my tater and not feel so guilty about it.

The method of boiling them and then smashing them before they go in the oven results in a crispy texture outside and a warm mushy texture inside. I just love them! There really isn't a recipe but I will jot how I made them.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

medium size sweet potatoes (as many as you'd like)
olive oil

Boil the whole sweet potato in water until it's just tender. You don't want to over boil it. Once you can pretty easily run a knife into it with a little resistance, you're good. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut the end off of one side of the sweet potato and place it cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment. To squish the potatoes I took an old fashioned potato masher and squished it down. I used a wooden spoon to pull the masher off of the potato (in case it get a bit stuck in the potato).

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 until crunchy and crispy on top. Mine took about 35 minutes. This may vary on the size of your potato. Check them periodically until they are roasted to your desired consistency.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lemon Ginger Molasses Cake

Ginger Lemon Cake

I'm in love with ginger and molasses and nutmeg and cinnamon. It's true. Those flavors just send me over the moon. There is just something so cozy and comforting to me about cakes and breads that include those ingredients.

I know gingerbread is a love it or hate it kind of flavor. I don't love it, I adore it. I miss it in the summer and springs months when it's just not as popular.

Once there is a chill in the air and the possibility of snow I'm all about making me some gingerbread or ginger cake for that matter.

I saw this on the Barefoot Contessa. I mean come on, Ina can do no wrong in my eyes and when she made this for her Thanksgiving special a few weeks back I knew I was going to make as soon as I saw in in the opening credits. The fact she added lemon to the gingerbread I already love.....heaven.

I know this is called a Lemon Ginger Molasses cake but it's gingerbread to me. Not too sweet, just enough zing, perfect with a big cup of coffee or tea.

I left out the crystallized ginger cause I didn't have any in the house and it came out just fine. I also just threw together some sweetened whipped cream to go on top. Making you own whipped cream is super easy. Start with some cold heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl and just add a few tablespoons of confectioner's sugar until it's as sweet as you want it and then just whip it up until soft peaks form. So super easy!

Ginger Lemon Cake

This was the perfect little cake for a small dinner party I hosted.

Lemon Ginger Molasses Cake
Printable Recipe
Recipe from Ina Garten - original recipe from Sally Lee, the editor in chief of Ladies’ Home Journal.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus extra for serving
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup small-diced crystallized ginger, plus extra for serving * I did not use the crystallized ginger in my recipe
Whipped Cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch-round baking pan, line with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, the molasses and the 2 teaspoons lemon zest and mix until combined. (The batter may look curdled.)

Sift together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, scraping down the sides. Mix until smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in the 1/3 cup crystallized ginger.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick just comes out clean. Don’t overbake it! Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely. Spread the top with whipped cream and sprinkle with crystallized ginger and grated lemon zest.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Ricotta cookies

Hello my lovelies! I am so very happy to tell you that I'm feeling so good for the first time in over 6 months that I just want to burst!

My taste buds have FINALLY returned! I was starting to get a bit depressed. Here I am, someone who loves to cook and bake and I can't taste a darn thing for over 6 months. It was brutal. About a month after my chemo ended the taste buds started to perk up again. 5 weeks in and they were 80% back, now I'm at about 95%, still having trouble with bread. Oh well, I can deal with that for awhile longer.

The one question that I got asked the most was:


I had a few answers to that one. Some of them might surprise you
1 - Sushi. You can't consume any kind of raw seafood when you are going through treatment, so of course, that's what I craved the most! I had Sushi last week and it was fabulous!!!

2 - A big giant salad loaded with everything I love. GREENS! I craved them and I couldn't eat them since my poor belly was so on the bum through my whole treatment.

3 - A salami grinder (that's Rhode Island talk for a sub sandwich) on crusty Italian bread. I'm not usually a lunch meat kinda girl, but I love salami and I dreamed about this kind of sandwich!

4 - Last - My Rustic Apple Tart with Maple Glaze. (recipe here) One of my absolute favorite desserts. I picked apples in September that I could not eat and could not bake with. Guess what I'm making two of this Thanksgiving? Oh yeah. I'm having myself a big ole piece or maybe two!

The very best news is that I'm back in my kitchen feeding the people I love. I have my energy back. My head is sprouting lots and lots of little hairs, my eyebrows and eyelashes are slowly growing in too. It's all coming together isn't it?

I had my surgery on November 16th and it went well. Next up is radiation but that will be a piece of cake compared to chemo!

I'm so glad to be doing the things I love, like sharing recipes with you guys. These Italian Ricotta Cookies are so good. Soft and delicious, they almost melt in your mouth. I just needed to make cookies. Something inside of me needed to roll deliciousness in my hands again.

Thank you all again for your continues support. I may not have millions of followers like the bigger bloggers, but I have you all and that's perfectly enough for me. I am so thankful for you all.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving! Appreciate the life
you have been given and enjoy!!!

Ricotta cookie 1s

Ricotta Cookies
recipe from Love Bakes Good Cakes
Printable Recipe
2 stick (½ pound) butter, softened
1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the glaze:
4-5 tbsp. milk
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract; mix until well combined. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the ricotta mixture; mix well. Roll or scoop the dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2-inches apart.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat the milk, powdered sugar, and almond extract until smooth. Dip the tops of the cookies into the glaze and set upright back on the wire rack. Immediately top with sprinkles. Repeat for remaining cookies.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I'm back!!! "Cream of ___" Substitue (SOS - Soup or Sauce Mix) Substitute Mix.

Soup Sauce Mix

Hello, hello, hello!!

I know it's been quite some time since I've been back on the blog. It's been a crazy 4 months but I'm happy to report that I had my last chemo treatment on October 15th and my tumor is GONE!! Non deductible even, so that is very good news!

I won't candy coat anything and say it wasn't easy. These months were hard. My body was pushed to it's limit mentally and physically. I tried to remain positive through it all but I had my days when I cried in the car all the way home, or I screamed in frustration at the top of my lungs. I had blurred vision, numbness in my toes and fingers, I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, I lost over 25 pounds, my taste buds are gone (but hopefully slowly coming back!) I haven't eaten a piece of fruit or had a vegetable since June! I've have muscle and bone aches and my stomach is an absolute wreck, but I made it through. I always knew I would. It was the getting through that was the hard part.

Those 18 treatments seemed like a life time, but they weren't. It was just temporary and I kept telling myself that so here I am - FINISHED WITH CHEMO! It's such a great feeling. I have a lumpectomy in a few weeks and then a month of radiation ahead of me, but I can handle it. I'm looking forward to getting back in the kitchen, spending time with my friends and family and just having life return to normal.

I can't thank you all enough for your outpouring of love and concern. I received emails that left me in a puddle of tears. So many of you reached out to ask me how I was, or tell me how you missed me, or asked how I was doing. I missed you all too! I miss being in the kitchen. I miss feeding people. I can't wait to share some new recipes with you all.

I spent a lot of time on the couch reading magazines, looking on Pinterest and bookmarking recipes that I'd make when I felt better so I have an arsenal of recipes that I want to try and share with you all.

The first one is this "cream of" substitute. You know, the cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of chicken that we so often use in recipes cause it's quick and easy. Well I started to really think about all the foods that I put in my body. How the preservatives in these food affect my general health. I asked myself time and time again...."how did I get breast cancer?". I didn't have a family history. I started to think about what I ate and what could possibly be bad for me including the products that I put on my body as well as in it. So I'm starting off small and trying to substitute some of the convenience items that I use for a healthier options.

One of the first things that popped into my mind was these "cream of soups" that I admit, I used on occasion. I googled and found quite a few recipes out there, I tweaked them and came up with my own version. I can pronounce everything in the mix, and I know what I'm putting into my body.

This recipe makes the equivalent of 9 (10.5oz) cans of cream soup! It's economical! It's gluten free and fat free!

Want to make it cream of mushroom - add some chopped mushrooms for cream of mushroom soup, a little celery or celery salt for cream of celery, a little beef broth, you get the picture.

Soup Sauce Mix 1

SOS Mix (Soup or Sauce Mix)

2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon*
2 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning

Combine all the ingredients and store in a glass container or Mason jar. When you are ready to use combine 1/3 cup of the dry mix with 1 ¼ cups of liquid. This can be water, chicken broth, veggie broth, etc. Whisk until blended. Cook on stovetop in a small saucepan until thickened.

*10-12 bouillon cubes crushed makes about 1/4 cup, crushed. I put the cubes in a zip lock bag, banged the heck out of them and ran them over with a rolling pin.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Everyday Orzo - my go-to side dish and an update

Everyday Orzo 1
Hi everyone!

I've missed you. I've missed this little corner of my world.

I've missed being in the kitchen. I miss cooking for all my friends. I've missed baking and eating! Yes, I miss eating the foods I love most of all!

I wanted to give you all an update. I'm did my 6th round of chemo this week. Halfway there!! I have 12 total. After chemo is done I'll be having a lumpectomy and then radiation. I've got a long road ahead of me, but I'm going to make it through, and that's all that matters to me.

I've been doing pretty good with chemo. I'm extremely lethargic. I'm napping most days out of necessity. I just can't keep my eyes open. I'm having some stomach issues and I have lost all taste in food, which for a foodie like me is not so great, but again, I'm dealing with it. I'm eating a very bland and boring diet. When you can't taste your food, you lose all interest in it. I eat when my stomach growls or when I know I really should eat something. I've been losing about 2 -3 pounds a week and normally that would be a YAHOO moment, but right now....not so much. My nutritionist would like me to drink some Ensures so I'm getting the vitamins and nutrients I need, so Ensure it is. Yuck!

The hair.....for those of you who know me, I have a lot of hair. I have big, thick, curly blonde hair. Well, I should say HAD, I DID have big, thick, curly blonde hair. My hair started to thin after chemo #4. I was shedding like a husky on a hot summer day. I made the decision to cut it short. I was starting to look like I had a mullet, so I went with a short haircut. Over the last week or so it really started to come out, so I finally started wearing my head coverings. I thought I would be much more upset about it, but I'm really not. It's only hair. It will grow back. I'm going to LIVE and that is so much more important then the hair on my head. I just might rock the bald look.

I'm being treated at Women & Infants Breast Health Center in Providence. I have amazing chemo nurses and doctors. I cannot say enough good things the folks there. I have been pampered and loved on by all my amazing friends and family, I have my good friend Eva as my chemo buddy. She takes me to most of my chemos and we color in those wonderful intricate coloring books to pass the time. I'm reading books I have been meaning to read forever and I'm pinning recipes that I want to try once my taste buds are back. As I said before. Life is still amazing and wonderful and I'm so very happy to be here.

I want to thank all of you that reached out to me since my last posts. I was flooded with good wishes and lovely thoughts. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, but this time really has held some of the best moments too. People are kind, and sweet and filled with kindness. I thank each and every one of you who reached out to be.

Now I'm happy to say.....on to some food!

I'm revisiting this dish. I originally posted it back in 2010. I felt like there might be lots of followers who didn't get a change to make this wonderful side so I had to remedy that, plus it gave me an excuse to make it again!

Most home cooks I know have a favorite side dish that they make over and over again.

This one is mine.

I fell in LOVE with this dish 5 years ago and I've been making it ever since.

I haven't eaten very much pasta over the past year and half, but this is the one dish that I'll make an exception for and indulge.

What makes it even better is.....it's so easy to make!

I tweaked it just a very little bit from the original recipe. The two things you must do to make this recipe turn out perfect are as follows:

1) DO NOT SUBSTITUTE THE CHEESE! The Gruyere makes this dish. If you want to use another cheese, choose another recipe. I'm so serious about this.

2) One you remove that pan from the burner, DO NOT LIFT THAT LID! Patience. It's only 25 minutes. You can do it!

Everyday Orzo2

Everyday Orzo
adapted from a recipe at the Junior League of Seattle.
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine (I used a combination of onion & shallots)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 pound orzo pasta, uncooked
3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE!)
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat chicken stock just until it begins to boil.

Add orzo to onion and garlic in skillet. Stir in hot chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let stand, without removing cover, until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THAT LID! Stir in cheese until melted. (If your cheese doesn't melt right away, just heat up the orzo over low flame a bit to get it to melt quicker); add chives and season with salt and pepper. Orzo will have a creamy consistency. Serve hot.