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.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why I haven't been around much.....

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a bit. Well, I had a bit of a health crisis. On May 5th I felt a lump in my left breast. I cannot begin to tell you what that moment felt like. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, feeling it over and over again. I have a lump in my breast. This is really happening. I was a little terrified; I’m not going to lie. I immediately told John. “it could be nothing” he said. “It could be something” I said.

So Thursday I went to my primary care doc. She did a breast exam and didn’t seem overly concerned about it. Yes it’s a lump, but it was soft and movable. Good signs she told me but I needed to go get a diagnostic mammogram immediately. So off I went on Thursday. I had the mammogram, was asked to take a seat while the radiologist looked at it and them. She came back about 5 minutes later and said that they would need a few more scans. After a few more scans I headed to the radiologist and had an ultrasound. She informed me that the doc would be in to look for herself. So I laid there for what seemed like an eternity looking up at the beach scene that was painted on one of the overhead tiles in the ceiling and I tried to stop myself from crying, but it didn’t work. A few minutes later the doctor came in and she told me that they found a mass and it wasn’t a cyst. I would have to come back for a biopsy to determine if it was indeed cancerous. My doctor called me as I was leaving the hospital. “How are you?” she asked. “Well, I’m kind of freaking out a bit” I told her. She’s a straight shooter my doc. I admire that quality in her. She told me “Look, I want you to know that the radiologist said that she is concerned that it is a cancerous lump”. I sat on the bench outside of the hospital shaking. I don’t even remember the ride home. The next morning I was back for my core biopsy. I was told I would get the results in 3 – 5 days and was sent home to ice the incision for the rest of the day.

3 – 5 days of waiting. Let me tell you. Those were 5 of the worst days of my life. Waiting and waiting for results. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. My mind never stopped. The “what-if’s” were never ending. The mental torture that I was putting myself through was unbearable. I cried and cried, uncontrollably at times. I tried to keep busy. John and I worked in the yard every night after work until it was dark. My main goal was to keep myself occupied because once I stopped and started to think about how my life could change with these results, I just lost it. I was never more nervous. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t want them to worry. Keeping all this a secret from my mom was so hard.

Sunday night I got the call from my doctor. The results had come in on Saturday. She didn’t expect them so soon. She told me it was breast cancer, but the good news was the tumor was smaller than they thought. I will probably need a lumpectomy and they will look at my lymph nodes and we will take it from there but she was very positive about it. One step at a time. She said “with your attitude I have no doubt that you will come out of this entire thing ok”. So that is where it stands right now. I don’t know if I’ll be blogging very much. Can’t say what I am going to do right now. I haven’t cooked in a week! The worst part of all this was the worrying and waiting. It was pure torture. Knowing WHAT I have to deal with is so much easier than not knowing. I can deal with this. I can beat this. I am very confident. I know that I have a tough road ahead, but I also know I can handle it.

Thank you to my amazing husband who always stands by my side. He has been my rock through all this. I wish every woman facing this kind of a crisis could have the same kind of support he has given me.

I would like to mention one last thing. To every woman out there who has put off their yearly appointment at the doctors, who has skipped their yearly mammogram, who thinks “it will never happen to me”, please, please, please I beg of you, get a checkup, do your monthly breast checks, have your yearly pap smears. It can happen to you and early detection can save your life.

My heart is still full of love, more so than ever now. I have an incredible family and loving friends who are always in my corner. Life is still beautiful, maybe even a little bit more so now than ever.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baked Scrambled Eggs

Most of you know that I am a breakfast person. I'll give up lunch any day of the week if it means I can stuff myself silly for breakfast. Even though I don't particularly care for waffles or pancakes, I'm in love with just about every other breakfast food there is, so finding this recipe for Baked Scrambled Eggs made me so happy.

I was searching out brunch recipes for Mother's Day. I looked into taking my Mom out for brunch, but when I saw the prices...forgetaboutit! $32 a person! No thank you. I can do brunch much more economically and I'm pretty sure, much more delicious.

So on the Mother's Day Brunch Menu will be my most favorite breakfast casserole of all time....my Blueberry Croissant Breakfast Bake. You can find the recipe here.

Blueberry Croissant Puff

Also on the menu is my Three Cheese Breakfast Bake. Recipe here. It's hearty and cheesy and full of everything we love about breakfast!

A co-worker had told me that she made Baked Scrambled Eggs for her Easter brunch and that everyone went crazy for them, so I thought I'd give the recipe a whirl.

3 Cheese Breakfast Bake 1

WOW! I tried it and I loved it! The eggs came out so soft and fluffy. Could you make scrambled eggs in a fraction of the time on the stove top? Sure, but I love the convenience of having the stove free to cook other things while the eggs are baking in the oven. If you have a large crowd to feed, or a bunch of hungry teenagers, this is a terrific recipe.

All the recipes I found were double this amount! I halved it for us. You can certainty double it if you like. If you like to throw in some cheese, or cooked veggies at the half way point, feel free to do so!

Baked Scrambled Eggs
12 eggs
1 ¼ cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
Pinch salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 350. Place the butter in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Let the butter melt while you prepare the eggs. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Remove pan from oven and add egg mixture. Bake for 10 minutes then remove and stir well. You want to break the eggs up. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes, remove and stir again. My eggs were done at this point, but yours might take a few more minutes. I would check on them every 3 minutes or so at that point. You don’t want to over bake them. If you pull them out at the right time they will be nice and fluffy.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cheesy Smoked Sausage and Veggie Bake

cheesy smoked sausage bake 3 2

First off let me say that my absence from the blog was due to some minor hand surgery that I had done. I couldn't cook or clean for over a week! It was torture! I also couldn't do dishes.....that was NOT torture! But I'm back and I've got a delicious recipe made with Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage.

There are not many brands that I love enough to promote, but this brand is one the whole family loves. Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage is a favorite in this household. I love it because it's quick and easy to prepare for dinner. I mean how many times can you have pasta or chicken for dinner?

My husband would eat it 5 times a week! I love all the different ways it can be used. It's not just for supper. Smoked Sausage for breakfast is also a great idea. If you need more inspiration, head on over to Hillshire Farms for more delicious recipes.

Hillshire Farm smoked sausage is crafted to be better. The experts have perfected the pre-seasoning of the smoked sausage over the last 75 years and let me tell you, it's a winner! Plus it's so much cleaner and easier to work with than chicken. I love me some chicken but there are nights when I'd much rather just slice or dice up some smoked sausage and be done with it!

Hillshire Farms asked me to create an original recipe from them so I came up with this Cheesy Smoked Sausage and Veggie Bake.

It's loaded with veggies (and some cheesy goodness too). So easy to throw together and pop in the oven. You can even make it the night before and just heat it up when you get home!

cheesy smoked sausage bake 2

Cheesy Smoked Sausage & Veggie Bake
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (or 1 large leek, light green and white parts only) finely chopped
8oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage, diced
1 - 16oz package frozen cauliflower, thawed
1- 16oz package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

Cheese Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded.
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat oil and add the chopped onion or leeks and sliced mushrooms. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the onions and mushrooms becomes softened. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in the diced smoked sausage. Toss to combine. Transfer to a large bowl so it can cool for a bit while you make the cheese sauce.

To make the sauce
In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Once the flour hits the melted butter it is going to clump so it is important to keep whisking so that you make a nice smooth paste or roux. Cook the paste for about a minute to eliminate the raw flour taste but don't let it start to brown. Add the milk in a little at a time and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper and stir until well blended. Pour over the smoked sausage and veggie mixture, folding in gently making sure the sauce covers all the mixture. Add in the cheddar cheese and place into baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese and top with paprika if you’d like. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Hillshire. This could include Hillshire providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bust Your Buttons Butter Pound Cake

Berry season is almost here. I can't wait until I can pick fresh strawberries and blueberries again, until then I rely on the supermarket berries grown on the west coast. They will just have to do for now. I don't even bother buying them in the winter. Winter berries in Rhode Island taste like nothing. I rely on what I have in the freezer during the winter.

Since deep red juicy berries started showing up in the markets again, I bought my first few pounds. I knew I needed a great pound cake recipe to go with them. I relied on my Pinterest pages and found this one called Bust Your Buttons Butter Cake. I read through it and it sounded like the perfect cake to pair with berries. There is a lot of butter in this recipe, almost 3/4 of a pound. Butter makes cake better, so you know this is a good one.

It has really great almond flavor too and that name.....you will want to bust your buttons when you start eating this!

I served it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. Perfect!

Bust Your Buttons Butter Cake
original recipe from Just a Pinch
3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon real almond extract
4 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup butter (about 5 ¼ tablespoons)
3/4 cups granulated sugar (white sugar, not powdered)
3 tablespoons water
1 ½ Tablespoons vanilla extract

In a stand mixer bowl combine the cake flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, butter, vanilla and almond extract and eggs. Mix just until ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.


Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours or until cake tester comes out clean. Do not over bake! Ovens vary so start testing yours around the 50 minute mark.

Combine all the ingredients, except vanilla, in a sauce pan. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Stir in vanilla, set aside to slightly cool. Pierce the cake with the tines of a fork or a bamboo skewer while it’s still in the pan. Pour half the glaze slowly over the cake.

Cool in the pan for 15 min. then flip out onto a cake plate. Pour the remaining sauce over the cake. I found that the glaze gets gooey at the bottom so after it set completely; I moved the whole cake to another plate. Refrigerate any leftovers.