Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cocktail Meatballs

Small baked meatballs in a thick sweet and savory sauce! Perfect as an appetizer or snack! Very easy to make with simple ingredients! I've made these many times! My guests loved them!

2 lbs ground beef
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 large clove garlic - crushed
12 oz. grape jelly
12 oz. chili sauce
4 Tbls. prepared yellow mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a roasting pan with tin foil.
In a large bowl mix together first 4 ingredients.
Shape the meat mixture into one inch round balls.
Place on roastingpan and bake 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan.
Add the baked meatballs to the sauce.
Cover and simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 30 minutes.
Serve warm with toothpicks.
Recipe adapted and modified from

Friday, December 28, 2012

My McCormick Spice Video Debut!

I first mentioned my McCormick video in this blog post called "My 15 Minutes of Fame". It was such a wonderful experience that I will never forget!  I will always be grateful to and the McCormick spice company for asking me to be in this video!  I've always loved ALL of the McCormick spice products, so it was easy for me to brag about their new item during the filming. ***Click Here to See My Video Debut*** 

The video aired recently on David Albright and Erik Dinnel are the videographers for that video. I'm so happy they were able to edit my mess-ups to resemble something worth showing! I'm not an actress so I know it must not have been easy for them! Thank you to David and Erik and all of the Allrecipes staff who were so helpful during the making of that video! It was so much fun to finally meet and cook with my foodie friend Jennifer!

The gourmet recipe mix packets  from McCormick are now available in stores...and REALLY are delicious! It makes cooking dinner so much quicker and easier. And tastes like a gourmet meal because of the perfect blend of spices in every packet! And what I love is that the packets contain all natural preservatives! All you have to do is add a few common ingredients and you'll have a quick gourmet meal that everyone will enjoy.  You just can't go wrong with McCormick spices!

My favorites from that line of spice mixes is the one I made in the video, 'Sweet Basil and Oregano Brushetta Chicken' and  another one that I tried called 'Creamy Parmesan & Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Penne'.

 So next time you're grocery shopping, look for these recipe mixes in the spice isle. It's truly worth trying and I know you'll love them as much as I do!

I recieved products from McCormick as part of my participation in this campaign.
All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crabby Patties...or Crab Cakes, if you're not a Square Pants Fan!

I love to order crab cakes whenever I go to a really good seafood restaurant! And 90% of the time I end up being very disappointed! Most times the crab cakes are either too fishy, too pasty, too dry or they just don't taste anything like crab! You would think they could get it right if they're specializing in seafood!

 Then one day, a co-worker of my husband, who is also a real foodie like me, gave me a few crab cakes that she made! They were absolutely perfect! Just the right blend of veggies , to crab , to seasoning...not to mention, great texture! I asked her where she got the recipe. She said she went to a restaurant that served these crab cakes and asked for the recipe! They actually gave her the recipe!!! Very cool of them! I've been making them every year for Christmas ever since!

Now I'm passing along the recipe to anyone else who loves a good crab cake...

Crab Cakes 

2 1/2 lbs. lump crab meat
1 large onion
1 large green bell pepper - seeded
1 large red bell pepper - seeded
3 ribs of celery
12 large egg whites - save the yolks
  pinch cayenne pepper
  pinch garlic powder  
  pinch kosher salt 
24 oz. flavored breadcrumbs- divided in half - I like the "4c" brand
1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
veg oil pan frying

Put the lump crab meat into a very large mixing bowl.
In a food processor, shred the onion, green pepper, red pepper and celery.
Add to mixing bowl with crab meat.
Then thoroughly mix in the 12 egg whites, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, kosher salt.
Now add in 12 oz. of the flavored breadcrumbs.
Combine completely and form into plum sized balls. You should have about 26 balls.
 Now mix the 12 egg yolks into a separate medium sized pan with about 12 splashes of milk. and the Old Bay Seasoning. Mix well.
Put the remaining 12 oz. of breadcrumbs into a separate medium sized pan.
Now dip the crab balls into the egg yolk mixture then into the breadcrumbs.
Flatten slightly to form a palm sized patty. Do this for all the crab patties.
Heat a large skillet on med/high heat with about a half inch of veg oil.
When the oil is hot, place about 3 - 4 crab patties in the oil and fry until golden. Then flip and brown the other side. Then remove and blot.
Do this for all the patties.
Then place the crab patties in a single layer on a baking sheet and finish cooking in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serve warm.
I like to serve it with tartar sauce on top or on the side.
***This recipe is courtesy of R.J. Peter's Restaurant***


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reindeer Pops

When I saw these cute Reindeer Pops on the Internet I said, "I can do that!" And they were staring back at me saying, "Yes, you can do it!" How could I resist?

Well, my first attempt was not so great! I was doing alot of cursing while trying to break the pretzel pieces into something that resembled antlers. I ate about a dozen broken pretzels before I finally got the hang of it! But I didn't really like the way the antlers looked...

Then I looked at more Reindeer Pop recipes and found a much easier way to make the pops with cuter antlers. So I made them again and was so happy at how easy it was and how cute they looked...
Isn't that reindeer saying,"You can do it?" 
We handed these out to family and neighbors...everyone LOVED them!
Give it a try! You'll be glad you did!
I found this recipe on the Make' n website.
Below is my easier version of their recipe. I didn't use their trays or chocolate. I just used my own microwave safe bowls and store bought chocolate chips for melting.
8 Large Marshmallows
8- 6” Make’n Mold Lollipop Sticks (5005)
Make’n Mold Microwavable Dipping Tray (5700)
Make’n Mold Milk Chocolate Flavored Candy Wafers (6130)
    Red Hot cinnamon candy for noses
    16 Tiny Twist Pretzel Knots
16 Candy Eyes or confetti candy dots
Wax paper lined cookie sheet
Red cloth ribbons for scarf
small cellophane bags   

Insert a lollipop stick into the side of each large marshmallow.
Lay sets of two pretzel knots onto the wax paper lined cookie sheet, so that they are touching each other.
Melt Make’n Mold Milk Chocolate Flavored candy wafers in Microwavable Dipping Tray according to package instructions.
Dip each marshmallow into the melted candy wafers, tap off excess. Place the flat side of each dipped marshmallow onto a set of pretzel knots.
Apply candy eyes and noses. Chill 10 minutes. Then tie red cloth ribbons around lollipop stick as a scarf.
Place each Reindeer Pop in a cellophane bag.
Hand out to family and friends.

 This photo taken from the Make'n website

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chinese New Year Chocolate Candy!

I'm not sure why this recipe is called 'Chinese New Year Chocolate Candy'....maybe because it's made with chow mein noodles? This is a delicious chocolate candy, no matter what you call it! It's crunchy, salty and sweet. Everything I love, all wrapped up in one bite! And you can change it to suit your own taste. I added grated coconut on top to make it more festive for Christmas. This recipe is extremely easy to make and only uses 4 ingredients.

Chinese New Year Candy

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup crushed chow mein noodles
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or peanuts
1/4 cup coconut flakes or grated coconut

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate according to package directions. I use the microwave method.
In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate with the crushed chow mein noodles and the nuts.
Mix until well coated.
Drop by the tablespoonful onto the lined cookie sheet.

You should get 15 pieces of candy from this recipe.
Dust the tops with the coconut flakes.
Allow the candy to firm up before placing on a serving platter.

Recipe adapted from
This post belongs to My Recipe Journey food blog.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Eve Dinner!

One of our family traditions is to have LOTS of different fish dishes to serve on Christmas Eve! This is a common tradition in many Italian households. It's called "Feast of the Seven Fishes". In my family we don't make all seven fish dishes...four or five is our limit! We usually make shrimp, scallops, sea bass, octopus, crab and/or calamari.

Below is my photo and recipe for fried calamari. We serve it with marinara sauce for dipping.
Fried Calamari

2 1/2 lb squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
2 lg cloves of garlic-crushed
1 c flour-seasoned with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
2 c or more-plain breadcrumbs-I use the "4c" brand
corn oil-for deep frying

Mix all dry ingredients together, include crushed garlic, but do not include breadcrumbs.
Then add enough water to make a slightly thick batter. Mix thoroughly.
Dip the calamari rings into this batter, then dip into the plain (unseasoned) breadcrumbs.
Deep fry (in small batches) for 1-2 minutes at about 375*F. Do not over fry or they will be chewy.
I always serve this with homemade marinara sauce for dipping.
This recipe serves about 4-6 people. I always double this recipe for my family.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Mom's Strufoli

This is an old fashioned Italian dessert that we make every year for Christmas! It's basically fried dough coated with honey and multicolored nonpareils. This recipe has been in my family for many generations!

There are many strufoli recipes on the Internet, but this recipe is unique because we add whiskey to the dough! And we make the strufoli into pretty twisted stick shapes. Most people make them into ball shapes. What is also wonderful about my Mom's recipe is that these strufoli can be baked or fried...and they taste just as delicious either way! A nice crunch and slightly sweet! Perfect with a cup of coffee!
My Mom's Strufoli

2 c  all purpose flour
3 lg  eggs-beaten
1 1/2 Tbsp  whiskey
1/2 Tbsp  pure vanilla extract
Tbsp  Crisco shortening
2 tsp  baking powder
6 oz  honey
3 Tbsp  nonpareils-multicolored
corn oil-if you choose to fry the strufoli

Mix all dry ingredients together.
Mix all wet ingredients together.
Then mix both together. Mix until dough forms into a ball.
Then knead dough for 5 min. Separate dough into 3 equal pieces.
Take a section of dough and roll out to a 1/8 inch thick rectangle.
Cut into 1/2"wide x 2"long strips.
Twist the strips and set aside covered so that they don't dry out.
Do this for all the dough.
Deep fry at 375 degrees until golden brown.
Blot on paper towels.          
To coat with honey put fried or baked strufoli in a large pot. Drizzle on top with honey. Heat and toss until well coated. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with nonpareils.
This recipe makes one medium sized platter full. Enough for about 6 people. I always double the recipe because it goes quickly!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hot Buttered Cider!

This drink is perfect for those cold winter nights! It just makes you feel all warm and cozy inside...especially if you add a splash of whiskey! I've made this many times with and without the liquor. This recipe makes 2 servings...just for me and my hubby. We enjoy this warm drink with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips.

We love to sip our hot buttered cider, while relaxing at night, with our feet up, gazing at the Christmas tree, all glowing and sparkly! How's that for setting a mood?

Hot Buttered Cider

12 oz. pure apple cider
4 tsp. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbls. whiskey - optional

Put the first 5 ingredients into a large glass measuring cup.
Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until the butter melts.
Stir well and pour into 2 mugs.
Add a tablespoon of whiskey to each mug if desired.
Stir, sip and enjoy!
Makes 2 servings

This recipe adapted from


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gingerbread...My Favorite Christmas Dessert!

I've seen gingerbread in many different forms...cookies, cakes, brownies, puddings, pancakes, waffles and ice cream, to name a few! I love gingerbread in ANY form!

This next recipe is one I found on I tweaked it to make it low fat by subbing 1/2 the butter for applesauce. I also doubled the spices to bring out more gingerbread flavor! It was perfect! This really satisfied my gingerbread craving! I also topped the gingerbread with my recipe for a cinnamon spiced drizzle.

Below is my version of the recipe along with my photo of the gingerbread.
Old Fashioned Gingerbread

1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c corn oil
1/4 c applesauce
1 c molasses - mild
1 lg egg
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 c hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Greased and flour one 9 inch square pan.
Cream together the brown sugar, oil and applesauce. Add egg, and beat well. Mix in the molasses.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and clove. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture; add the hot water, and mix well.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool in pan and serve cold. This tastes much better cold than warm. If you taste this while its warm the gingerbread flavor is just too intense!
***Optional - Top with the spiced drizzle when the gingerbread is completely cooled.
1/3 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves


Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Candy

 At this time of the year I love to make all kinds of Christmas goodies for the holidays...cookies, cakes, drinks, food and CANDY!!!
I found this recipe on and tweaked it to make it more colorful for Christmas by sprinkling on some colored sugar. This candy is so easy to make and looks so festive on cookie platters. I love to hand this out to family and friends for the holidays! 

Holiday Candy Crunch

4 cups broken pretzel pieces
4 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup dried fruit such as cranraisins
colored sugar or sprinkles

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.
In a large microwave safe bowl melt chocolate in microwave according to package directions. Quickly stir in pretzel pieces and dried fruit and pour onto lined cookie sheet. Spread out as mush as possible. Then sprinkle evenly with colored sugar or sprinkles. Chill until chocolate is firm.
Then break into chunks. Store covered in a cool place.
Original recipe adapted from Allrecipes,com
This post belongs to My Recipe Journey food blog.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Irish Cream Liquor Made Easy!

I was given a gift of homemade Irish cream liquor one year for Christmas! I never thought to make my own, but after tasting the homemade version I knew this is the only way to drink it! It tastes so much smoother and creamier than the store bought! Plus it costs A LOT less to make than to buy...about half the price! This started my quest for the best and easiest Irish Cream recipe I could find!

I found this recipe on a cooking website posted by a foodie friend named Wendy Gardner. It's the simplest and best tasting Irish Cream recipe I've ever tasted! I love giving this to family and friends for the holidays!

Irish Cream

8 oz whiskey
8 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. whole milk
1 tsp. chocolate syrup
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a bottle with a lid.
Chill until ready to serve.
Store leftovers in fridge.
Pour into gift bottles. Tie with a festive ribbon. Keep chilled at all times.
 Give to family and friends as a gift.
Should last about 1 week in the fridge.
Mine never lasts that long because we drink it!
Recipe from Wendy Gardner
This post belongs to My Recipe Journey 

I've made this recipe many times and bottled it as gifts for friends at Christmas, as shown in my photo below...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Holiday Treat!

This is a recipe I created for Christmas a few years ago! I was trying to come up with a treat for the kids. I often make Rum Balls for the now I needed something that the kiddies could enjoy. This turned out to be a big hit with the kids AND the adults!

Peppermint Balls

5 cups rice crispy cereal
4 cups mini marshmallows
4 Tbls. butter
2 1/2 tsp. milk + 1 tsp. mint extract
6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. white chocolate chips
2 regular sized peppermint candy canes- crushed
36-40 mini muffin papers
Make a basic Rice Crispy Treat by melting the butter over medium heat in a very large saucepan. Add the marshmallows and stir til melted, then add in milk with mint extract. Stir again. Then add in cereal and stir til well coated. Remove from heat and work quickly with damp, oiled  hands, break off a small amount of the coated cereal and form into a small ball (1" in diameter) Place the ball on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Continue doing this til all the balls are formed. You should have about 36 - 40 balls. Set aside.                
                    Melt semi sweet chocolate in microwave according to directions on bag. Dip each ball in the chocolate and smear the chocolate all over the ball with your hands making sure to evenly but thinly coat the ball. Place back on waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Repeat this for half the balls. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over top of the balls before they dry. Repeat this method with the white chocolate.
When all the peppermint balls are dry, place each one in the mini paper cups. Place the peppermint balls in an air tight container. Should stay fresh for about 2 days.               
Serve and enjoy!
    This is the perfect treat for holiday cookie platters!                                                   

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Neater Sloppy Joe!

Sloppy Joe Egg Rolls

I love Sloppy Joe's except for the sloppy part! So I decided to make them into egg rolls! It worked great! It's less sloppy when it's wrapped up!
Just make your favorite Sloppy Joe Recipe (click on recipe title to see the recipe I used) and set it aside to cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a scoop of the cooled Sloppy Joe mixture in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Roll the wrapper while tucking in the sides. When you get to the end of the wrapper, brush the edge with water and place the egg rolls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, seam side down. Brush the tops of each egg roll with water and sprinkle with toasted (browned) sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Goes great with a side of fries and a salad!