Girls on Food

Holiday

Julianne’s Ice Cream Date Night with Personal Creations! #ad

My boyfriend Aaron and I LOVE ice cream.

We have to have a scoop (or 2… or 3) every night while we binge on Netflix shows. Since this is Easter weekend, we plan on watching all the stand-up comedies we fell behind on. I found the perfect, personalized accessory to celebrate this holiday weekend.

Personal Creations asked me if I wanted to test out their Ice Cream Shoppe Bowls and how could I turn that down?

First off, the personalization is just adorable! Second, these bowls come with a big handle for clumsy couples like Aaron and I. No more spills! Third, it’s porcelain, which helps helps to keep ice cream extra chill. It also comes packed with ice cream toppings!

Aaron and I had some serious belly laughs with Louis C.K.’s new special last night. I had cherry ice cream with sprinkles and he had birthday cake with sprinkles too. You now what they say about great minds…

I hope you all have a fantastic Easter!

A Feeding Frenzy in Florence

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas in Florence, Italy. There is truly no place else in the world like it. The sights, the people, and THE FOOD. When I sat down to write this article, I said to myself, “Boy, you are in trouble!” To whittle down all those wonderful bites to five almost became a mission impossible. In my many trips to Florence, I can honestly say I’ve only had three subpar meals. On the other hand, I have had many, many meals that are imprinted on my taste buds as if branded. BUT I am tenacious and accepted the challenge…so here are my top five bites. Enjoy!

Numero Cinque:
Arà: è Sud
Via della Vigna Vecchia 4r,
Florence, Italy 50122
http://www.araristorante.it/home/

cannoli; florence; dolci; foodie; travel; europe; italy

(more…)

All in for All Granola

The holiday season is upon us, and that means an array of parties and gift giving opportunities. What better way to thank your host than with something delicious? This yummy white chocolate granola bark is so easy to make, and it’s just the thing to get you invited back next year!

When All Granola asked me to give their all natural, small-batch granola a try, I was all in! I received a free sample of Nuttin’ Honey and another flavor, Drunken Cherry (infused with bourbon – YUM!), but all opinions are my own.

White Chocolate Granola Bark - All Granola
I had been wanting to try some new “bark” ideas, and when I saw how beautiful the Nuttin’ Honey granola was, with colorful cranberries, red quinoa, and pumpkin seeds, I thought it would be perfect…and when I tasted it, I KNEW it would be perfect.

White Chocolate Granola Bark - All Granola
You will need:
10oz package of high quality white melting chocolate
1 cup of granola
1/8 tsp salt
parchment paper

  1. If you are like me and don’t own a double boiler, you can create your own by boiling water in a small sauce pot, with a glass bowl sitting on top of the pot. Make sure the water isn’t touching the bowl. Pour your chocolate in the bowl.White Chocolate Granola Bark - All Granola
  2. Stir frequently until melted.
  3. Add the salt, and half of the granola.
  4. Use a spatula to spread the granola onto a sheet of parchment paper, on a cookie sheet. Once you have created an even layer, sprinkle with the remaining granola.White Chocolate Granola Bark - All Granola
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Once your bark is solid, break it apart and it’s ready to eat (or package up to give others.)

White Chocolate Granola Bark - All Granola

All Granola is based out of Brooklyn, NY but is available to order online. Be sure to check out the other varieties available, that are perfect for nursing moms, moms to be, or anyone else who loves delicious, delicious granola!

Catherine Takes a Seat at Andrew Tarlow’s Table

These days, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book. Let’s be honest, I am lucky enough to keep up with meetings, conference calls and only because of The Skimm am I well aware of what’s going on in the news. When I found out that Andrew Tarlow was making a trip to Nashville and partnering with one of my favorite restaurants in town, Rolf and Daughters, I knew this was an event not to be missed. I put aside the magazines, hit pause on the DVR, sat down and read Dinner at the Long Table from cover to cover.

Andrew Tarlow is the “unofficial mayor” of Brooklyn. This restaurateur is single-handedly responsible for transforming the New York borough into the world class dining scene that it is today.  His empire is vast and truly knows no bounds. Consisting of five restaurants ( Marlow and Sons, Diner, Roman’s, Achilles Heel, Reynard, ) a butcher shop (Marlow and Daughters) a bar (The Ides) a bakery ( She Wolf Bakery)  and a hotel (Wythe Hotel), Tarlow has most recently added handcrafted leather bags (Marlow Goods) to his list. I seriously want to know when this man sleeps!  What’s the latest with Tarlow? His Cookbook, Dinner at the Long Table, a collaborative effort penned with Anna Dunn. Dunn is yet another superstar who serves as the editor in chief of the famous Diner Journal, a magazine dedicated to art, literature, and recipes. Oh, and by the way, add that one to his list as well. This man is pure genius. Clearly, I am a huge fan 🙂

It’s no surprise that this “cookbook” reads more like a personal journal or book of short essays exploring family traditions and celebrating those that have shared dinner at the long table with Tarlow from the beginning.

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Tarlow and Rolf and Daughters carefully selected dishes highlighting multiple menus throughout this gorgeous book.

We started with Turnip and Apple, which was a slight variation of the Turnips and Oranges recipe under One Good Goose. This menu focuses on the importance of people and procuring ingredients from local purveyors. The apples were the perfect juxtaposition to the turnips. The heartiness of the dish was balanced out with local watercress and Gruyere cheese. A perfect opener for the evening.

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Anxiously awaiting our next dish, the Eggplant with Bone Marrow Agro Dolce was served from the section I love, you love, we all love bluefish. This menu pays tribute to those who enjoy and find pleasure in highlighting the unsung heroes of the sea. Speechless. I was left speechless after my first bite. This dish was the epitome of agrodolce. The richness of the broth provided balance to the sharp vinaigrette. And the marrow? Melted in my mouth faster than any M&M I’ve ever had.

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Basking in the deliciousness of my first two courses, the Agnolotti in Brodo was served. This dish comes from the Night Before a New Year menu. Dishes concocted for this meal are both elaborate and laborious, as what would be expected on New Year’s Eve. I enjoyed this dish and could taste the amount of effort that went into crafting each piece of pasta. The agnolotti was stuffed with a crumbled pork mixture, lighted covered in brodo and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Confession: If I weren’t in public, I totally would have had every drop of that brodo. AMAZING!

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Wild Striped Bass with Polenta, Tomato and Mint highlighted in the Agro Dolce menu strives to find the balance between sweet and savory. The bass was placed atop a soft, creamy bed of polenta drizzled with olive oil and garnished with mint. The creaminess of the polenta played very well with the acidity of the fish.

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Ending the meal on a sweet note, we ordered Toasted Rice Ice Cream with Bitter Chocolate.  I could not think of a better conclusion to this flavor filled journey. The ice cream was both delicate and sweet, topped with crisps that provided that extra crunch with each bite. Maybe one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. And yes, I realize what a strong statement that is.

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Tarlow and Dunn open with the poem, “Eat Sunshine.” This will speak to each person in different ways, but I wanted to share a few of the nuggets that sang to my heart:

  • participate in the timeless
  • never measure
  • make drinks
  • spend your life thinking about dinner
  • game changers
  • remember what you forgot
  • eat with your fingers
  • set off the smoke alarm
  • write a menu for every meal, even the small ones
  • find your heroes

Pour yourself a glass of wine and have a seat at Andrew Tarlow’s table. He truly is a hero and an innovator when it comes to American cuisine. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Winning In Windham: A Vinoventure

As Thoreau once said, I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately…..and to sample wine.  ALL OF THE WINE.  Ok, maybe I added that second bit, but I imagine that’s what he was thinking.  I had the pleasure of traveling the back roads of Windham, NY with my father and happened upon some new local treasures.

After traversing The Windham Path, our first, stop was Higher Grounds.  This laid back coffee, breakfast, sandwich shop has some wonderful options for people looking to stay healthy.  I sampled their Garden Goddess served with feta cheese, tomatoes, spinach and you can add avocado if you’re feeling frisky.  It doesn’t hurt that when you look out the window, you’re staring at a mountain.  Also, they had peppermint coffee, and I’m a sucker for peppermint coffee.  Keep your eye peeled on their specials; they like to switch it up.

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Higher Grounds
61 State Rt 296, Windham, NY 12496
https://www.facebook.com/Higher-Grounds-Coffee-Co-302891989763169/

After a morning hike, we decided to get a closer look at some of the towns finer grapes.  Situated off the main road a piece is The Windham Winery, a local establishment featuring a $20 tasting that doesn’t disappoint.

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Their tasting menu has an excellent assortment of choices.  Different and unique was their Diamond wine, a grape that is not frequently used because it has to be worked with individually and carefully.  The owner is very present and walks you through all of his wines. He’s laid back, personable- he makes this an experience you won’t forget!

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I only do wine tasting in my finest Ron Jon surfer trucker hat, an obvious class act as I taste intricate wines in this refined hiking ensemble.  Their Vino is on the sweeter side but never left my cheeks in cartoon pucker.  It has an at home, laid back feel.  You’ll find yourself staying longer than the time you expected because you can’t stop petting the dog and leisurely staring out toward the beautiful mountain vista.

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Next stop – Ze Windham Wine Bar.  A cozy little locale on the main street of town.

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Ze Windham Wine Bar
5369 Main Street Windham NY 12496
(BEHIND THE POST OFFICE)
http://zewindhamwinebar.com/wine-beer-food.html

This quaint family operated business has a lovely array of wine and beer alike.  My father is traditionally a bud light drinker but was pleasantly surprised by one of their options, the Berliner Weissbier.  I squealed with delight that I managed to get Papa Lohne to try a brew that had a decorative decal #familygoals.  Just check out the artistic craftsmanship on this bottle.

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Father proudly holds his maiden voyage of a beer that isn’t handed out for free at intramural sporting events.

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One of the owners, Cordelia, poses artfully for me in her native wine habitat.  I highly recommend Ze Windham Wine Bar and not just because it utilizes Ze as a “the.”  It’s charming, friendly, warm, and a wonderful place to have a glass of wine and socialize with the owners and the surrounding guests alike.  While I happily sipped on a cabernet, I regretfully did not try one of their cheese plates or charcuterie boards.  Suffice it to say, next time I am on a self-enforced writers retreat, I will stop by and sample a pretzel roll and pecorino cheese.

As the winter approaches and ski season is just around the corner, take a moment and visit Windham, NY.  You can traverse the friendly slopes and then grab a glass of your favorite cabernet, just maybe don’t do both at once.  Your not broken leg will thank you for it.

Celebrate Bastille Day at La Madeleine Country French Cafe!

Happy Bastille Day!

What better way to honor this French national holiday, which celebrates the unity of the French people after the storming of the Bastille, then enjoying its rich culture and culinary delicacies!

If you are looking for a place to indulge in French-inspired cuisine or want to feel whisked away to the French countryside today, then La Madeleine Country French Cafe should be on the top of your list.

La Madeleine Country French Cafe

Various Locations
http://www.lamadeleine.com


To celebrate Bastille Day, La Madeleine will be offering a free mini Liberté Tart all day today.

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The Liberté Tart has fresh blueberries, raspberries, and whipped cream, to represent the blue, red and white of the French flag. There is no purchase necessary, just simply request your free tart and enjoy!

However, while you’re there, you shouldn’t just stop at dessert. La Madeleine also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, as well as wine, which is important because French food should always be accompanied with wine, in my humble opinion.

When I visited La Madeleines location in Alexandria, VA, not only was I able to grab my free Liberté tart (they also offered this promo on the 4th of July) but I was also able to try their new French Tartine Trio sandwiches, and of course topped my meal off with a glass of Rosé. I couldn’t pass up on Rosé!

The French Tartine Trio sandwiches are three open-faced sandwiches. One had chicken & goat cheese; another had Roasted Vegetable and the third ham & swiss. They were each baked on herb ciabatta bread and paired with a Cranberry Pecan Salad. Each sandwich was better than the last and perfectly flavored. I remember being slightly bummed when I finished because there was no more left. That could be the fatty in me, but I’m almost positive it was mostly because the dish was excellent!

My husband had the Chicken Friand,  a puff pastry with balsamic chicken and mushroom filling topped with wild mushroom sauce, which was to…die…for. Of course, I couldn’t snap a picture because he eats so fast, but I was able to try it, and it did not disappoint. The pastry melted in your mouth, and the flavors of the balsamic chicken and mushroom sauce combined were out of this world!

The delicious French inspired dishes coupled with the casual countryside decor makes La Madeleine an excellent choice to celebrate today’s holiday.

So, make sure while you’re out celebrating Bastille Day today, that you stop by one of La Madeleines locations for your free Liberté tart and a sure to be filling, relaxing, magnifique breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sunday Brunch at Riverwalk Cantina in Gaylord Texan Resort

About seven years ago, while pregnant with Haley, I started having the most fantastic, recurring dream.

I’m in a big box store that looks and feels exactly like Costco. The place is massive, with dozens of racks that stretch from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Each rack has diagonal shelves like you see in a bakery. On each shelf are rows and rows of trays. On each tray, in perfectly lined rows, are hundreds of teeny, tiny, little desserts. Little fruit tarts. Little chocolate cakes. Little apple crisps. Little cream puff pastries.

I’m not ashamed to admit that when I have trouble sleeping, I lie with my eyes closed and visualize my magical little dessert store. This dream is my happy place.

This Easter, my family, took a break from our usual tradition of a low-key Mexican buffet and decided to get all gussied up and have Easter Brunch at Riverwalk Cantina, nestled in the coziest corner of the atrium in The Gaylord Texan Resort.

There, I got to experience my dream in real life, and it was so much better than my imagination could ever conjure up. In my dream-come-true, I got to have all of the little desserts as well as a sampling of some of the best New American cuisine I’ve ever had.

Riverwalk Cantina at The Gaylord Texan Resort
1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051
Riverwalk Cantina on Facebook

The Dorns’ are a buffet loving family, and I consider myself to be a well-qualified connoisseur of the genre. I love a cruise ship buffet, a country club buffet, a cafeteria-style buffet, a well-stocked salad bar I’m all in as long as the food is delicious and well prepared.

Zeb Hartline - Executive Chef Riverwalk Cantina
Zeb Hartline – Executive Chef Riverwalk Cantina

This Easter Buffet was, without a doubt, one of the very best, if not THE best buffet I’ve ever had. I was even able to meet and chat with the Executive Chef, Zeb Hartline and he gave me a personal tour of the whole operation.

Chef Zeb is a brand new Texan, who just moved here a little over a year ago having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. It seems that Texas suits Chef Zeb just fine. He’s even part of the Texan Smoke Bandits, an award-winning, Gaylord-Sponsored, competitive BBQ team. Chef Zeb brings a classic and refreshing culinary point of view to Dallas.

His Easter buffet menu is a masterpiece. It is creative and ambitious, delicious and totally relatable. I would love to see more Chefs like him in Dallas.

When it was time to make my first plate my head was spinning. Culinary sensory overload was at a ten. Luckily, I had everything all planned out ahead of time.

 

Jan’s Easter Buffet Action Plan

  • Avoid the bread, pastries and breakfast items. I’m sure they’re all wonderful, but I can’t have a Texas shaped waffle taking up precious space in my stomach.
  • Save desert for last so I can have it with coffee.
  • Eat two bites of everything until my Spanx give out.

Right in the heart of the Cantina were three huge caldrons of shrimp, oysters on the half shell, and crab claws over ice. I decided to start there.

Shrimp, oysters and crab claws
Shrimp, oysters, and crab claws, oh my!

I limited myself to two shrimp and two crab claws. If that’s not self-control than I don’t know what is. Then, just past the seafood, lie a table of awesomeness the likes of which, I’ve never imagined. Stretched across a twelve-foot table, piled up in adorable, “please eat me” pieces were eight different kinds of cheese.

Assorted artisan cheeses
Assorted artisan cheeses

Eight perfect little, deliciously stinky, cheesy mountains interspersed with rustic loaves of bread, jars of house made pickles and hills of Texas chorizo, capicola, and prosciutto.

Heaven, y’all. It was cheese HEAVEN.

My plate of amuse bouches.
My plate of amuse bouche.

I took one piece of each cheese and one slice each of the prosciutto and capicola. I stopped at the soup table, got a ladle-full of the lobster bisque and headed to the table for round one. It was almost impossible not to eat and walk, but I restrained myself.

So, you know how sometimes, you bite into a piece of cheese, and it’s so good that you forget how to think for a few minutes?

No? Just me?

Well, that’s absolutely what happened to me when I tried the Red Dragon whole grain cheddar. This cheese was on another level. If Arsenio had tasted this cheese, he would have been furious.

Arsenio wants to know how good the cheese is, well in advance.
Arsenio wants to know how good the cheese is, well in advance.

The shrimp and crab were cooked perfectly. I’m adding cold crab claws to my party appetizer menu.

The lobster bisque was so rich and creamy that I was mysteriously incapable of eating it without closing my eyes. My bowl should have had a bit more lobster in it, but unfortunately, the gentleman in front of me had fished out all the big lobster chunks before I could get to it.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good and nowhere near full. Main course(s) time.

Scallops and Taco Action Stations
Scallops and Taco Action Stations

In the main courses area, the Chef had different action stations set up. At one station chefs were preparing Pan Seared Scallops with sweet corn puree, brussels sprouts with ghost peppered caviar. At another, he had Braised Chicken Tinga and Rock Shrimp Salad Tacos. Familiar foods with an elevated touch made the place feel so much more lively than your standard, Easter Buffet Snoozefest.

Chef Zeb had the basics very well represented. The ham, prime rib and lamb were perfect, and this is not an overstatement. All of it was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Perfect sauce pairings. I was beyond impressed.

Oven Roasted Airline Chicken with fingerling potatoes, balsamic, onion, smoked gouda
Oven Roasted Airline Chicken with
fingerling potatoes, balsamic, onion, smoked gouda

Of all the main dishes, the Pan Seared Salmon with farro, fava bean, rainbow chard and the vegetable mole was my favorite; I ate every last bit of it. I’ve never eaten or cooked with fava beans before, and Chef told me of the painstaking process involved in double peeling the beans for close to one thousand diners. Well bless the man’s heart, I sure do appreciate the effort. I can’t wait to incorporate them into my recipes.

Finally, finally, finally, it was desert time. The Executive Pastry Chef at The Riverwalk Cantina is Chef Arthur Surman. This man made my dream a reality.

I almost died when I saw these.
I almost died when I saw these.
Strawberry mouse
Strawberry Mousse

Little mango mousse tarts. Little key lime pie. Little chocolate brownie. Little cream puff. Little chocolate eclair. Next to my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the greatest day of my life. I put one of everything on my plate. I got some funny looks from folks on the way back to the table, but I didn’t care. I was about to enjoy 15 different deserts, and my Spanx were holding up beautifully.

IChef Art's Assorted Mini Deserts.
Chef Art’s Assorted Mini Deserts.
Processed with VSCO
Kid’s Buffet

Chef Zeb couldn’t have been kinder, and he is a talent that I will be watching closely from now on. I can’t wait to see how he grows in the future, and I will be back to The Riverwalk Cantina. I also want to thank him for going the extra mile for us parents by setting out a very impressive kids buffet. I appreciated the consideration so much as did my kids, Chloe and Haley.

Also, thanks, Mom and Dad, for deciding to do something different and special with us this year. xoxo

 
Riverwalk Cantina - The Gaylord Texan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Luck of the Irish: Bonnie’s Colcannon

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

I was trying to decide what Irish dish to make.  Luckily, I had a sack of potatoes (like a good Irish girl!), half a cabbage, and an onion.

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Hmmmm!

colcannon me text

Colcannon, of course!

So, get your green on and try this super easy dish.  The full recipe is at the end of the post.

Simply peel, chop, and boil 1½ lbs of russet potatoes in salted water.

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While that’s cooking, chop 3/4 cup onion and 2 cups green cabbage.

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Saute onions and cabbage in 1½ T butter for 5 minutes.  Add in 1/2 tsp salt.

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When potatoes are easily pierced with a fork – they’re done.  Save about 1 cup of the potato water.

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Drain potatoes.  Pour in 2 T melted butter and mash until smooth.  Add in reserved potato water, as needed, to achieve a creamy texture.

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Stir in the cabbage/onion mixture.  Add in another 1/2 tsp salt.

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You’ve now made colcannon!!!

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Slainte!!!

COLCANNON – makes 6 cups

  • 1½ lbs russet potatoes, skinned
  • 3½ T butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp salt, divided

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cut peeled potatoes into pieces so they cook faster. Add to boiling water and cook until easily pierced with a fork. Reserve 1 cup of the potato water, then drain potatoes. Return potatoes to the empty pot.

While potatoes are boiling, melt 1½ T of the butter in a saucepan. Add in onions and cabbage, and sauté until softened – about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 T butter and add to the hot, drained potatoes. Mash, using a potato masher or food mill. Pour in the cabbage mixture (heat, if it’s gone cold) and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Add the reserved potato water, as needed, to achieve a creamy texture.

NOTE: Much as I love my food processor, DON’T use it to mash the potatoes – they’ll turn out like paste.

To bring leftover colcannon back to life as leftovers, add a bit of the reserved potato water (or, just plain water or milk if you threw it out) and microwave.

Be sure and check out my blog at VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES BLOG.

 

Valentine Pretzels by Bonnie – Feel The Love!

 

bonnie val pretzel

Yikes! Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  How about baking homemade treats that are sure to make you the most popular Valentine around? Oh, I can hear the excuses now: “I don’t know how to bake.”  “I don’t know what to make.”  “I don’t have time.”

Thank goodness you came to me.

If chocolate, caramel, and salty pretzels sound good, then I have a fool-proof recipe for you that can be put together in minutes. Yes, minutes!!! VALENTINE PRETZELS!

A popular version of this recipe uses small pretzel twists. The problem is the candy melts through the holes. So I found the perfect solution:  a product from Keebler called Town House Pretzel Thins with sea salt (No, they’re not paying me). Not only are they the right taste and construction – THEY’RE HEART SHAPED!!!

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VALENTINE PRETZELS

  • Keebler Town House Pretzel Thins – sea salt flavor
  • Rolo candies (or other caramel filled candy)
  • pecan halves, lightly toasted

You’ll need one of each per VALENTINE PRETZEL.

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

valentine pretzels directions

Place crackers salted side down on ungreased cookie sheet. If you forget and lay the salted side up, don’t worry – I only place the crackers salted side down so that your tongue gets bathed in salt as you bite into the chocolate and caramel.

Top with unwrapped candy. Bake for approximately 4 minutes, until candy is soft but still retains its shape. Remove from oven.

Press one pecan half into each softened candy, firmly enough that the pecan embeds into the candy, but not so hard that the caramel comes squirting out.

Let cool either on the counter or briefly in fridge.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Bonnie’s Bread and Cheese Omelette Casserole

BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE
BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE

One of the problems, when you’re hosting a holiday dinner, is the holiday breakfast and holiday lunch. Isn’t it enough you have to plan and prepare the dinner PLUS clean the house AND set the table?  And, if it’s Christmas, there are presents to open! Who has time to cook extra meals???

Fear not, I have the perfect solution:  BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE!

You put it together the day before, then just pop it in the oven in the morning and let it bake for an hour. While it cooks, you can open presents or tackle any of the hundred tasks that need to be done before company arrives.

NOTE:  I use this casserole as an opportunity to finish up odd bits of leftover cheeses. (I hate waste!)

BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE

  • 3 cups French bread pieces (about 1″ squares)
  • 12 oz cheese, shredded (your choice – mix it up, if you like)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1½ cups + 2 T milk (I use nonfat)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thinly

Butter a 9½” x 13″ casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle on bread followed by cheese.OMELETTE CASS PREP1

In a bowl, put the dried mustard, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Pour in a little of the milk and blend, smashing out any lumps. Add the eggs and beat well with an egg beater or whisk. Add the remaining milk and the scallions. Beat well.

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Pour over bread and cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate.

OMELETTE CASS PREP2

If possible, remove from fridge about half an hour before cooking. Bake covered at 325º Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.

BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE
BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE

Summer’s Chocolate Caramel Swirl Bark

‘Tis the season for friends, family and parties! I love Christmas parties and I always want to show my appreciation to the host by giving a gift. I want to give something homemade but not a cookie, something sweet but not too sweet. Something you could enjoy with a big glass of adult grape juice … Enter the bark. Dark chocolate, swirled with white chocolate, laced with caramel dolce and sprinkled with sea salt bark. YUMMO!!

This bark hits all the right buttons, sweet, savory and easy to make. So bust out your mixing bowls, spatulas and lets get started!

*I got all of my ingredients at Trader Joe’s

bark ingredients

Chocolate Caramel Swirl Bark

1 Pound Plus Dark Chocolate bar
1 Bag of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1Bag of White Chocolate Chips
1/2 a Jar of Caramel Dolce Sauce

Break up the dark chocolate bar (I used half of it).
Place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. stirring half way through.

Dark Chocolate

While the chocolate is melting cover a cookie sheet with wax paper.

remove the dark chocolate and stir until completely melted and smooth.

Place the the semi sweet chips in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and stir until completely melted.

Place the white chocolate chips in a bowl and repeat what you did with the semi sweet chip.

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While the white chocolate is melting spread the dark chocolate and semi sweet chocolate evenly onto the wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Remove the white chocolate from the microwave and stir until evenly melted. Plop spoonfuls of the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate. Take a spatula and swirl through.

Scoop out half of the jar of Dulce de Leche and microwave just to soften for about 30 seconds. Plop the caramel by the spoonfuls onto the white, dark chocolate base and swirl through.

Carmel Sauce

Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the fridge until completely cooled (about 2 hours).

Break the bark up and enjoy!

Merry Christmas!!

me and bark

Bonnie’s Vegetarian Christmas Lasagne

When one walks around with a surname like ‘Antonini’ there’s a certain expectation of Italian-ness. (It probably comes from all the vowels.) Even though there’s actually not a drop of Italian blood coursing through my veins (I married into the name), I do find myself talking with my hands and cooking lots of pasta.

A favorite vegetarian holiday pasta dish in our family is Christmas Lasagne (aka Italian Flag Lasagne the rest of the year), which sports festive red, white, and green layers.

Christmas lasagne & Bonnie
BONNIE MAKES VEGETARIANS MERRY!

I’m a wee bit picky (some might say ‘neurotic’) about what I feed my family.  I like to make as much from scratch as I can so I know what’s in our food. I’m also on the frugal side (some might say ‘cheap’), so cooking from scratch saves me money. Always a bonus!

That being said, doing everything yourself takes time. For my Christmas Lasagna, I make the pasta, pesto, marinara sauce, and buy fresh spinach that I wash, de-stem, and chop in the food processor. Not gonna lie: it’s work. But if you choose, you don’t have to do any of that. You can purchase lasagna noodles, pesto, frozen chopped spinach, and marinara sauce. While it’s probably tastier to make the spinach/pesto and marinara layers from scratch, the main feature of this recipe is the Christmas colored layers – and you can still get the ‘wow’ factor from store-bought ingredients.

As the self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, next time I prepare Christmas Lasagna, I’m going to make several batches of both the spinach/pesto and marinara fillings, then freeze them in portion sized containers. That way in future when I make this as Italian Flag Lasagne, all I’ll have to do is make the noodles and ricotta filling.

THIS IS IMPORTANT (you can tell because I used all caps):  For best results, make Christmas Lasagna the day before serving. After baking, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. The layers will then solidify. To serve, slice into serving sizes, and microwave until warm. If you don’t do this, the layers won’t be as pert, and you’ll lose the layer effect. The bonus is all the work is done the day before so you can concentrate on all your other dishes the day of. Yay!

CHRISTMAS LASAGNA – makes a 10″ x 7″ x 2″ lasagna

Spinach/Pesto Filling

  • 9 cups packed fresh spinach (or 1¼ cups frozen chopped spinach)
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1¾ cups broccoli, chopped
  • 2/3 cup pesto (recipe below)

Chop spinach in a food processor by pulsing several times, or use kitchen scissors.

Blanch broccoli by turning burner on high and steaming for 3 minutes total. (See photo). You want them firm to help support the green layer.

steam broccoli

In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add in spinach, salt, and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted and liquid is extracted. Don’t be shocked when the spinach wilts dramatically. Turn off burner and tilt skillet, pushing the solids uphill so the liquid can drain. Mix together the drained spinach, broccoli, and pesto.

– Pesto – makes 2 cups (freeze what you don’t need!)

  • 5 cups fresh basil, pack down the basil when you measure
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 T lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 cup + 2 T Romano cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup + 2 T pine nuts, toasted

Put all ingredients in a blender.  Depending on your blender, you will probably have to start and stop quite often in order to reposition the ingredients. Be very careful not to press down with an implement (such as a wooden spoon) while the blender is running. As tempting as it is, I’ve had to throw out a few batches of pesto when the wooden spoon went too far down and got caught in the blades. Wood chips in pesto = not good!

Ricotta Filling

  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg

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Beat egg in a mixing bowl.  Stir in the ricotta and Romano.

Marinara Sauce

  • 4 cups Roma tomatoes, drained and chopped (I used canned, removing the stem end and any flaws)
  • ½ T olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1¼ cups fake ground beef

In a skillet heat olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.  Add in the tomatoes, oregano, and wine.  Bring to boil, then lower flame and simmer sauce uncovered until it thickens (about 20 minutes). Stir in the imitation ground beef and simmer another 5 minutes. Make sure you use a fake meat that offers structural support to the layer such as Morningstar Meal Starter Griller Crumbles, which come in a pouch in the frozen food section. (See photo).

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Marinara layer, ready to go!

Cheeses

  • 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

– Homemade Noodles

NOTE:  If purchasing lasagna noodles, you’ll need 11 noodles.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ T olive oil
  • water, as needed

Into a food processor put the eggs, flour, and olive oil. Blend until most of the flour is incorporated. Add water one tablespoon at a time until you can form a ball with your hands, but dough is not wet. Roll dough into 8 balls, 2 of them should be about 2″ in diameter. Let rest in covered food processor 30 minutes.

Start boiling the water to cook the pasta. Run the two large dough balls through the pasta machine working your way to #5 setting.  They should be about 5″ wide and VERY long.  These pieces will form the bottom layer and will run up the sides.  The extra length is to wrap around the lasagna to form the top layer.

Assembly

Grease the sides of the lasagna pan. Spoon some of the liquid part of the marinara sauce onto the bottom of the pan and spread to cover. Boil one of the long pasta strips about 1 minute. Remove and drop into bowl of cold water. Put the other long strip into the boiling water. While that’s cooking, take the cooled strip and cover one side and half the bottom of the pan. Remove the other strip, put in cold water, and lay that one on the other side.

Spread the spinach/pesto filling evenly on the pasta. Top with ½ cup shredded Romano.

Prepare 2 more pasta balls. Roll them to #5, making them 3″ wide. Boil them together 1 minute, drop into cold water, and layer them on the spinach/pesto filling.

Spread the ricotta filling evenly on top.

Prepare 2 more pasta balls as above. Layer on top of ricotta filling.

Spread the marinara filling evenly on top. Top with the remaining ½ cup Romano.

If the bottom pasta strips are long enough that they can fully cover the marinara layer, you don’t need to use the last 2 pasta balls. Prepare them, if needed. Wrap the bottom strips around the marinara filling.

Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, cover with foil (making sure it doesn’t touch the cheese). Bake at 350º Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer.