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Come football play-off season the pressure is really on for me. I’m not talking about being nervous or worked up about the actual games, I’m talking about intensely brainstorming game-day snack ideas. While everyone else is preparing their picks for the big game, I’m busy concocting up ideas for what I plan to stuff my face with. And good news: I have a buttery, carb-y, pepperoni-stuffed plan, my friends! When I hit a mental block thinking about what to bring to a football viewing party last weekend my husband offered me some sage advice. He said: ‘you usually do well by taking something big and tasty and turning it into a bite sized snack’ – of course! So I shrunk down my favorite flavors in pizzas and garlic breads into a super easy Pepperoni-Stuffed Garlic Knot bite. The full recipe is below for all of your Superbowl Party planning needs!  2015/01/img_5973.jpgGarlic Knot 1Garlic Knot 2Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Ingredients

  • Store-bought pizza dough
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pull or cut 1″ round pieces of pizza dough and use your fingers to roll into a 1 to 2″ disc. Top the disc with a piece of pepperoni and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  • Roll the sides of the dough over the pepperoni and cheese filling and pinch the dough closed to seal it inside. Roll dough around in between your hands to round the shape and ensure the dough is fully sealed. Repeat until all of the dough is used up and arrange the dough balls into a pie dish.
  • In a food processor, combine butter, parsley and garlic. Spread the garlic herb butter over the dough, making sure that the mixture is evenly dispersed.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the garlic knots just begin to turn gold brown.  Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

Every year at our annual New Year’s Eve celebration, I stock the bar with the usual suspects (champagne, wine, beer) and then add one signature drink to the mix that is festive and easily prepared in advance. This year my color scheme is revolving around mints and golds, so I thought a peachy colored drink would look great on the bar. After some brainstorming, I landed on a grapefruit juice based cocktail that I’m calling the ‘Grapefruit Sparkler.’ To make a batch for yourself start with a pitcher or carafe and mix together 3 cups of chilled grapefruit juice, 1 cup of white rum, and 1/4 cup of elderflower liquor — use this ratio to double or triple the recipe depending on how large your party is. To serve, pour the mixture 3/4 of the way full in a flute and top the remaining 1/4 of the glass with a bubbly prosecco and a sparkly drink stirrer — cheers!

Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 1 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 2 Grapefruit Sparkler Cocktail 3Find similar champagne flutes here: Anthropologie | Waiting on Martha

Do you have one of those recipes in your back pocket that works for just about any occasion? Mine is so simple it’s almost embarrassing: Rice Krispy Treats! It’s the one thing that I always get asked to make for friends’ parties. For a recent holiday party I decided to add a fresh twist to my classic recipe and make a Neapolitan version with classic flavor layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. It takes just a simple modification of the  traditional Rice Krispy Treat recipe, full instructions below:

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Following the traditional instructions to make Rice Krispy Treats, prepare the ingredients and press a layer of the classic flavor into a lightly greased baking pan. Work quickly to add the next layer so they don’t cool too much — the strawberry layer is exactly the same recipe as the classic Rice Kripy Treat, but when you’re melting the butter and marshmallows together you want to add in 4 drops of pink food coloring and 1 tsp of strawberry extract (you can usually find these near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle!). Press the strawberry mixture directly on top of the classic layer. Next, make the chocolate layer with the same classic recipe, but mix in Cocoa Krispies in lieu of Rice Krispies. Then, pour the Cocoa mixture on top of the Strawberry layer and cover with a large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll over the parchment paper and press the layers down. Set them aside and let cool completely to solidify. When you’re ready to serve them, flip the baking dish upside down with the parchment paper on the table, slowly lift the dish up and reveal the compressed layers. All that’s left to do is to cut them up into squares with a serrated knife, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

This weekend I was in major need of some comfort after a long string of holiday parties and maybe a few too many glasses of champagne (shh!).  My usual go-to comfort food is a bowl of pasta, but I decided to mix it up this time and try a savory chicken dish with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce, lots of sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and a little crispy bacon and goat cheese just to amp up the richness. Full recipe below if you’re in need of comfort food too!
Cream Sun Dried Skillet Chicken Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 1 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 2 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 4 Creamy Sun Dried Skillet Chicken 3

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (reserve oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of light cream
  • 1 tbsp of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet on high and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown in the hot pan on both sides.
  • While the chicken is browning, roughly chop mushrooms, shallots, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes; mince garlic.
  • Remove chicken from pan when cooked through,  add 1/2 tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oils  and 1 tbsp of butter to the pan, then toss mushrooms, shallots, bacon, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté mixture. (Scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits from the pan).
  • Lower heat to medium and stir in 3/4 cup of light cream, 1 tbsp of goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese; stir continously to break down the cheese and incorporate the tomatoes flavors with the cream.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan while the sauce cooks and thickens.
  • Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and torn tarragon leaves.
  • Try serving over pasta or a bed of spinach.

The Harvard Common Press is celebrating their New England ties by hosting a virtual cookbook potluck with a bunch of local food writers. So when they reached out to me to join on the fun, I of course said yes and said I’d bring the cocktails! I dug through the Harvard Common Press’ book Party Drinks! and found one recipe that seemed like the perfect fit for the occasion: a Ward 8 — named for the 8th Ward of the city of Boston. In a cocktail shaker over ice you pour 4 oz of Rye, 1/2 oz of Grenadine, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, and fresh lime juice. Shake it up, strain it out into two glasses, and garnish with an orange and cherry, and of course give a clink of the glass and toast to something fun!

partydrinkspartydrinks1partydrinks5partydrinks3partydrinks6Please note: Harvard Common Press sent me a complimentary copy of Party Drinks!; all photographs and opinions are my own. 

Guys! We’re one week out from my very favorite holiday (because it’s all about food and family, my two favorite things!). Being as food obsessed as I am, I’m already thinking about delicious leftovers. The day after Thanksgiving at my family’s house is usually a continuation of the festivities, we dig into leftovers and friends and family pops in to visit. Of course no one would turn down a post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich, but I thought I would mix it up this year and try to repurpose some leftover side dishes to make a festive appetizer to enjoy while family is still visiting at the end of the holiday weekend. Leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes got a little dressed up and repurposed as filling for stuffed mushrooms — the taste of Thanksgiving in a bite sized snack! Full recipe below.
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Ingredients:
  • Mushroom caps
  • Leftover mashed potatoes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Leftover baked sweet potatoes (1 potato)
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Cooked italian sausage
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley (for garnish)
  • Green Onions (for garnish)
  • Crispy bacon (for garnish)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Clean the mushroom caps and remove stems.
  • Using a small spoon or melon-baller, scoop out the inside of the mushroom caps to make room for filling (cup the mushrooms in your hand to keep them from breaking.
  • For Mashed Potatoes: fill mushroom caps with leftover potatoes, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • For Sweet Potatoes: combine sweet potatoes with a drizzle of honey and melted butter; fill caps with mixture.
  • For Stuffing: combine leftover stuffing with cooked and chopped italian sausage, fill caps with mixture.
  • Arrange filled mushroom caps in a baking dish, salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
  • Remove and garnish: add green onions to the top of the mashed potato stuffed mushrooms; chopped crispy bacon to sweet potato stuffed mushrooms, and minced parsley to the top of stuffing filled stuffed mushrooms.

At the Wayfair + Boston Bloggers ‘Home for the Holidays’ Event last weekend, my Boston-blogging partner in crime Alison gave a great chat about planning your content around the holidays and one of her pieces of advice was resurfacing old posts to share when seasonally relevant. It got me thinking about some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from blog posts past. As I’m sure you’re in a similar Thanksgiving menu planning mode that I’m in this week, I thought I’d round up four of my favorite that offer a fun twist on a traditional Thanksgiving food element.

To start things off: a seasonal cocktail that brings apple cider to the forefront, Apple Autumn Punch. A tasty appetizer that brings in the sweet flavors of apple pie but the savory balance of a baked brie, Baked Brie with Apple Compote. We always have mac and cheese on our Thanksgiving menu for the vegetarians, and this version is baked in cored apples; Mac and Cheese Baked Apples. For dessert, I’ve tried a bite sized version of pumpkin pies and used cookie cutters to spell out a message of thanks: Thankful for Pie.

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This weekend I was busy testing some recipes for Thanksgiving ideas (and blog posts!) and the best thing ever that can happen when you’re cooking occurred: I had leftover stuffing. My family has a special little trick for leftover stuffing, we use it to make a little breakfast hash. It’s barely a recipe, which is just how breakfast should be made: add a tiny pat of butter to a hot pan and throw in the stuffing and, if you have it, some chopped onions, sausage, bacon — you can’t mess it up! After the mixture cooks together for a few minutes push it the sides to make an opening in the center of the pan. Crack in egg in the center of the stuffing and let it fry up, then slide that whole thing on a plate and dig in! I garnished mine with some fresh chopped green onions, and let me tell you, it was tasty. IMG_4918.JPG

There are a few ‘trigger’ ingredients that I look for on a cocktail menu when I’m making a drink selection, and the tartness of grapefruit of is always one of my trip contenders. I mixed up sweet and herb-y drink to balance the tart grapefruit flavor in a tasty drink with Brugal Rum. To make one yourself, follow these instructions: in a rocks glass over ice add 1 tsp of honey, fresh grapefruit juice (1-2 grapefruits, depending how much juice you can get out of them!), and 1.5 oz of Brugal White Rum. Stir vigorously, and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme – swirl it around in the glass to release some of the flavors into the drink, and enjoy!
Thyme Grapefruit Punch Ingredients Thyme Grapefruit Punch

Brugal Rum provided me with sample products to test, all opinions are my own. 

I’ve got another fun rum cocktail for you today after some more experimenting with Brugal Rum — a blueberry basil smash. My idea for this drink came from a peruse through my fridge, I had some leftover blueberries and basil that were ready to use! To make your own version of this drink, follow these steps: In a cocktail shaker, muddle 1 tsp of sugar, 2-3 lime wedges, a handful of blueberries, and a few sprigs of basil. Pour 1.5 oz of dark rum over the muddled mixtures and shake with ice. Pour in a glass and top with soda water; serve with a fresh lime wedge and a striped straw for good measure! Blueberry Basil Smash Ingredients Blueberry Basil Smash Muddling Blueberry Basil Smash _edited-1 Blueberry Basil Smash _