Gone to the Beach

We are truly enjoying summer in our home! Be back this fall with some great new recipes to try!


Sweet Slaw

1  16 oz bag cole slaw
1/3 cup diced sweet onion
2/3 cup mayo
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 Tablespoon honey

Chop up the cole slaw
In a large bowl mix together all ingredients (minus the slaw and onion)
Add chopped slaw and onion to dressing and place in fridge for four hours before serving

In my house this serves 4- so I often double it since it's great the next day too!



Cookies 2 Ways

I don't make cookies often- they aren't my dessert of choice.  But today I felt differently- I really wanted to make some yummy cookies.  But alas, I couldn't decide what to make so . . . I made two kinds with newly created recipes.  They came out great!!!  Check them out . . . 

Double Chip Pudding Cookies

You will need
2 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 tsp of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup room temp butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup special dark chips

The how to

Heat oven to 350 degrees F
In your mixer cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Add instant pudding till blended.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add is salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour.  Finally stir in all of the chocolate chips.

Drop cookies with scoop or teaspoon on to parchment lined cookie sheets- bake 10 minutes till cookies are golden brown.  Let cool before devouring! 

Cake Mix Lemon Cookies

you will need
1 box lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
zest of a lemon
juice of a lemon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup powdered sugar

The how to

Pour cake mix into mixer.  Add eggs, oil, zest, and lemon and mix until well blended
Stir in white chocolate chips
Place cookie dough in fridge for at least two hours if not over night

When ready to bake heat oven to 375 degrees F
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll them around till lightly covered. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets and cook till bottom is light brown, about 8 minutes.  Let cool completely before devouring. 

**** Cookie making tip, if you put dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours or so dough will not be sticky when you are making the cookies on the sheets****


Jalapeno Popper Dip

I get asked for this recipe every time I make it.  I've altered it from the version on allrecipes.com to suit my tastes.  Enjoy this easy party dip!

2 packages cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup mayo
1 can (4oz) chopped chilies
2 oz chopped jalapeno peppers ( I use the canned ones)
1 cup of parm cheese
1/2 cup panko
olive oil

Stir together cream cheese and mayo till smooth.  Stir in chilies, peppers, and 1/2 cup of the parm.  Pour into an oven safe plate and top with panko and remaining parm.  Finally drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F till golden brown and bubble, about 30 mins.

Serve with toasted baguette slices or your favorite chips!



Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent . . The Bynes' Falls Blend

Well I finally tried it and so far I am thrilled with the results!!!!  I made my own powdered laundry detergent- wahoo!!!!  I picked powdered over liquid simply for storage reasons.  I still pre treat stains as clothes go in the hamper with Zout- and so far this concoction of all natural cleaners has passed the test!

You will need . . . 
 2 cups of ivory snow (if you can't find snow, grate 2 cups of an ivory bar into the mixture)
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
1/2 cup powdered Purex 2 (or any color safe bleach)

Mix together in a sealable container and add two heaping tablespoons to the water in your laundry machine before adding clothes.
 ***shake it up every time you use it***

Also pour a cup of vinegar into your machines fabric softener dispenser to get soft clothes every time- with no extra smells!

The best part of this was a years worth of all of the ingredients cost 10 dollars!!!  Imagine the savings over the year.  

I found all of my ingredients at a local large supermarket chain.


Chocolate Cognac Tart

I was watching Giada make  a chocolate tart the other day on her food network show.  I thought the way she put it together was so simple and easy- I wanted to try it- but I changed around the ingredients so that I could use this vanilla cognac that is burning a hole in my cabinet.  Interested? Read on!

You will need
4 Tablespoons butter plus enough butter to grease the pan (room temp)
9 chocolate graham crackers (the whole piece, not halves)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
12 oz chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla Cognac (ok, if you didn't want to splurge on this you could leave it out, but oh my does it make this tart incredible) 

The how to
Heat oven to 350 degrees F
Butter bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan

Place chocolate graham crackers in the food processor- mix till crackers are fine crumbs.  Add butter and pulse until it's all mixed together.  Press the crumb mixture in the bottom of the pan and bake for 12 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

While crust is cooling, in a small saucepan, whisk together cream and honey over low heat till combined.  Place chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla, chili powder, espresso powder and cognac in another bowl.  Pour the hot cream mixture over and stir until the chips are melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour over crumb crust and refrigerate overnight.

The next day loosen tart from pan with a knife and place on serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve well chilled!!!!


Quick and Easy Chicken Satay App

I needed a a quick appetizer to make for an afternoon with the ladies.  Problem being I just didn't have time to fuss over it.  I had all the ingredients at home and quickly put together this fantastic chicken satay.  The peanut sauce was out of this world- check it out below!

Chicken Ingredients-
1 lbs chicken cutlets (cut them in strips)
equal amounts of lime, lemon, grapefruit, and orange juice (fresh)
2 grate cloves of garlic
dash red wine vinegar
salt, pepper, and a few seasonings of your choice (I used thyme and oregano)

Chicken How to-
Throw all the above in a bowl, place in fridge for two hours (or so)
soak wooden skewers in water while the chicken is marinating
place chicken on skewers, grill 3 minutes on each side
place on serving plate 

Peanut Sauce Ingredients-
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon red chili paste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime juiced
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 cup hot water

Peanut Sauce How to-
throw first 6 ingredients in food processor and blend blend blend
thin out sauce to your liking with hot water
place in bowl



Semi- Homemade Pop Tarts

I've been seeing Pop Tart recipes all over the Internet, they all require making your own pie crust.  I came up with a few short cuts to make up a homemade batch real quick. You can even do all the prep the night before and pop them into the oven in the morning. 
They were super yum!

You will need:
Store bought pie crust
filling of your choice, I used jam
sugar in the raw

The how to:

roll out your dough real thin, and cut out rectangle shapes
fill with your filling

Fold over to make the Pop Tart shape

Seal edges with fork, and cut of extra edge
Make a few vent holes on top for baking

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar in the raw
Place in a 400 degree F oven on cookie sheet with parchment paper for 15 minutes, or until golden brown



Nothing nutty about it granola

I really really really like granola.  However, I have a hard time buying it because most prepackaged granola contains nuts.  So I have created my own batch and want to share it with you.

You will need:

3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 dried cranberries
2 T of sugar
1/8 t of salt
6 T honey
2 T vegetable oil
1/2  cup of your favorite chocolate (You can use mini chips, but today I used bars and chopped them)

The how to:

Heat your oven to 300 degrees F
Combine oats, coconut, cranberries, sugar, and salt in a bowl
Heat honey and oil together on stove top with whisk constantly until combined.  The purpose of the heat is to melt thick honey only
Mix honey mixture into oat mixture and pour on a aluminum foil (non- stick) covered cookie sheet
Bake for twenty minutes until golden.  Stir half way through cooking time.

Transfer to storage bowl and let cool.  Continue to mix during the cooling process so oats don't stick together.  Once 100% cooled, mix in chocolate and enjoy!


Mother's Day gifts from the heart

So I packaged up these quick and easy mother's day gifts . . 
I thought I would share the recipes

this orange marmalade was so easy to make and knock your socks off delicious!  I changed nothing in this 3 ingredient recipe.

Next I made a batch and a half of these bath salts

The changes I made were minimal.  I used dead sea salts instead of sea salt.  Honestly I'm not sure what the differences are or might be, I just know that it sounded more luxurious. Then I combined a couple of essential oils to make a completely custom scent.  I used lemongrass, lavender, and eucalyptus.  I did test these out already- and they smelled wonderful and were moisturizing as promised.

Hope every has a wonderful Mother's day!

French Onion Soup and Wings

Well I think this is possibly the best french onion soup we have ever had!

Here is the link to the original recipe

I did make a few changes though (shocking) to the above recipe.
I found that the cooking times were way off.  The second time the onions roasted in the oven only needed another hour max.  Also after each addition of liquid, it really only takes a few minutes for the liquid to evaporate- just make sure you stir the whole time.  My final change to this recipe was that instead of a plain baguette- I used toasted garlic bread and topped with the Gruyere Cheese- OMG- to die for!!!!

Oh yeah- one more thing before I forget!!!!  Make the soup the day before:):)  Don't skip that step.

I served the yummy soup with some wings. I baked them at 375 for about 45 mins.  Half way through I start basting them with a mixture of orange marmalade (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 1/4 cup), few dashes of garlic powder, and finally a splash of orange vinegar. Every 5ish minutes I basted them again with the above mixture.  They were out of this world!!!!!


my Chicago cravings continued . . .

There is this bakery in Northbrook, IL that I love.  They have the best banana bread with chocolate frosting.  I miss it so much that one of my girlfriends mails it to me to cheer up my days here in Connecticut.  Well I've been trying and trying to recreate it and finally I have!!!!  So I share with you banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

You must make the banana cupcakes a day in advance. No cheating here! You will frost them on the second day.

you will need:

1 stick of room temp butter
2/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 over ripe bananas
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tablespoons of hot milk
1 tsp of baking powder
1 cup of flour (sifted)

2 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar (measure after you sift)
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
6 Tablespoons room temp butter
5 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

cream together butter and sugar
add eggs one at a time
add bananas
dissolve baking soda in hot milk fold into batter
fold in flour and baking powder

place in butter and floured muffin pans in a 325 degree oven till golden and toothpick comes out clean. approx 35 minutes.  

Makes 12 cupcakes, let cool and place in a airtight container till next day

sift together cocoa and powdered sugar, mix well
cream butter in mixer
alternately add powdered sugar mixture and milk
take the time to scrape down your bowl
add vanilla
beat for a few minutes till it is light and fluffy

frost cupcakes and enjoy


I'm back with Chicken Scallopini on the brain

It's been a while since I have been in the kitchen planning a menu and cooking- boy oh boy it feels great to be back!  Tonight's dinner was great for a few reasons.  First, it was family friendly.  Second, it was quick. Third and finally it easy one of those recipes that is so adaptable to what you have on hand.  Ladies and gentleman (or ladies and Germans as my daughter says) I give you chicken scallopini.

you will need:
1/2 box of linguine or thin spaghetti
4 chicken cutlets (I love these since there is no pounding necessary and they are all ready nice and trimmed)
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil
3 T butter
8oz sliced white mushrooms
1 cup white wine or chicken stock (or a combination)
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 large shallot sliced
1 juiced lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
chopped parsley (use as much or as little as you like, just make sure it's fresh)
Parmesan cheese (for sprinkling)

the how to:

cook pasta in a pot according to package directions
salt and pepper chicken, then dredge in flour
heat butter and olive oil in skillet and fry breasts till golden and juices run clear
when chicken is cooked remove from pan and place on plate tented with foil
throw mushrooms and shallots into chicken pan and stir
add wine, saffron, lemon juice cook for a few minutes till sauce reduces a little
remove from heat, stir in cream and parsley
place pasta and chicken on plate, top with mushrooms and sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese


Still distracted

Oh my, I am so distracted by bread.  I used my starter and made homemade pitas tonight- filled with greek chicken salad . . . mummmmmm

So here is a quick and easy way to make some yummy roasted greek chicken

6 chicken thighs
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 cup kalamata olives
2 lemons
1/2 cup chicken broth
olive oil
2 Tablespoons oregano
1 Tablespoon parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

In a 9x13 pan combine broth and juice of both lemons
Add olives, chicken, tomatoes
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper on top

Roast for 45 mins


No Matzoh for you . . .

I was going to tell you all about things you can make with Matzoh, but I got distracted.  I received this great book titled, Artesian bread in five minutes a day . . .  I'm in love with it . . . It was so easy and the bread is sooo fantastic!  Here's a peek . . . 

MUMMM, going back to the land of distraction:)


Matzoh, Matzoh, Matzoh

My family thought I had gone off the deep end when I mentioned I wanted to try making matzoh.  I'm glad I did, It was  fun project to do with my almost (one tiny more day) 3 year old.

3 parts flour
1 part cold water

Mix flour and water together in  a stand mixer with dough hook.  
If mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon of cold water at a time till it comes together.
If mixture seems to wet, add a little more flour till it come together.

Place on a floured surface and roll baby roll.  You want to make it as thin as humanly possible.

Finally poke with a fork all over and bake in a 425 degree F oven till golden brown.


Nothing says happiness like sloppy joes . . . mummm!!!!

Sloppy Joes are pure happiness to me.  However I have never enjoyed them in  any form other than out of a can.  Even that way ,it is one of my most favorite meals.  Tonight I strayed from the can and made my own- I think it has become my new favorite!

Try it . . . you won't be disappointed

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/4 cup minced green pepper
1 clove of garlic 
1 teaspoon yellow mustard (yup the cheap stuff, that only kids love)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup bbq sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar

hamburger buns

In a skillet over medium heat,  brown beef, onion, and green pepper
Grate in the clove of garlic
Once meat is brown mix in brown sugar, yellow mustard, ketchup, and bbq sauce
Let simmer for 15 minutes
Scoop on bun and enjoy!!!

makes 4 sandwiches


Chicken Vesuvio

Chicago is known for so many wonderful culinary creations.  One of them being chicken vesuvio.   I love making this dish because it is such a versatile dish and you can easily use all parts of the chicken.  Tonight I used a whole chicken that I cut up in to pieces.  But you can just as easily use breasts, thighs, drumsticks- honestly, any combination will do.  The other great thing about this meal is the prep is easy and it roasts in your oven for over an hour, making your home smell delicious!!!!

The inspiration  for this dish came from this posting on the Proud Italian Cook website.  

Chicken Vesuvio meets Connecticut

olive oil
1 whole bone in chicken
6 russet potatoes
12 cloves of garlic
2 lemons juiced and shells saved for roasting
Rosemary (fresh) 2 sprigs
2 Tablespoons oregano
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
couple handfuls of frozen peas

1. Cut up chicken and heat oven to 375 degrees F
2. In a heavy cast iron pot heat olive oil
3. Add chicken and potatoes and brown (about 10 minutes)
4. Toss in garlic, oregano, rosemary,  2 Tablespoons parsley, salt, pepper and continue to brown (about another 5 minutes)
5. Transfer lemon shells, chicken, potatoes, garlic, and herbs to roasting pan
6. Deglaze your pan with wine, lemon juice, and chicken broth- making sure to scrap up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pot (mummm) and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes

7. Transfer mixture to roasting pan and place in oven for 1 hour
8. Add a few handful of peas to pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes
9. Sprinkle reserved parsley over dish and serve

*** my sous chefs enjoyed helping prepare tonights meal***


Mummm Doughnuts

I was watching food network and stumbled across Paula Deen making doughnuts out of refrigerator biscuits, and I was amazed.  They looked so easy and I knew that at some point I had to try them.  Sadly, they were so easy and fantastic I had to make them twice this week!  I thought you might like to try them too.

inspired by Paula Deen

****requires a deep fryer or a large cast iron pot and thermometer****

1 can large buttermilk refrigerator biscuits
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla 
4 cups powdered sugar

1. Heat your deep fryer to 350 degrees F with peanut oil.  Likewise you can pour oil in a large cast iron pot and monitor the temp with a candy thermometer.
2. While the fryer is heating open can of biscuits and make a small hole in the center, you could poke through with your pinky or you could use a thimble sized cookie cutter.

3. Place 4 at a time in deep fryer and flip after two minutes so both sides get golden brown.
4. Remove from fryer and let oil drain on rack.
5. Continue with remaining doughnuts and centers too!


1. Use two pots to make glaze, one for vanilla and one for chocolate.
2. In each pot add half of the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  To the chocolate glaze add the cocoa powder.  Mix both glazes well over a low heat until combined and warm. If needed, add another teaspoon of cream to make a glaze consistency.
3. Dip one side of doughnut in glaze and place back on rack, glaze side up, till set, about 5 minutes.



Irish Soda Bread

This Irish soda bread is easy to make and tastes great with some butter and fresh chives!  Enjoy . . . 

6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
4 cups of buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 box of raisins (about 4 cups)

***recipe makes 8 mini loaves, 2 9x5 loaves, or any combination of both***

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease pans.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Next add egg and buttermilk to bowl and mix until just moistened.  Stir in butter and raisins.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the bread comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  Wrap in foil for several hours for best flavor.


Never fail creamed spinach

The picture I have of the never fail creamed spinach is mid prep- as soon as it hit the table it was gone!  My two year old ate most of it:)  Don't let it discourage you from trying it though, you will not be disappointed!  The best part of this recipe is that you can make it earlier in the day and reheat it on the stove just before dinner.  The original recipe can be found here . . . 


2 heads of garlic, top end cut off
olive oil
2 large onions
2 (10 ounce) boxes frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
8 oz veggie broth
8 oz white wine
6 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon juiced
1 lemon zested
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap aluminum foil around the garlic to form a tight package.  Roast for 45 minutes.   Be prepared for your house to smell fabulous! 

In a nonstick pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium hear.  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add spinach and saute for one minute more.  Add veggie broth and wine, continue to simmer for one more minute. Pour mixture into a food processor, and squeeze the garlic cloves from the head of the roasted garlic.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Pulse till creamy.  Serve warm.


Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

1 cup warm water
1 package of yeast
3/4 cup very very very fine ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup of oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 pounds loose sweet italian sausage

thick slices of mozzarella cheese (my pan takes 10 or so)

28 oz can of drained whole tomatoes
red wine
parmesan cheese

Place the fine ground cornmeal in warm water (I use the bowl in my stand mixer, since you will need it to complete the dough). To the cornmeal mixture, add yeast, salt, sugar, oil, and melted butter- whisk in stand mixer for a COMPLETE 10 minutes.

Change whisk attachment to the dough hook and add one cup of flour. Continue to add 1/2 cup of flour at a time till dough has formed a ball and no longer sticks to your hands.  You might need more flour or you might find that you don't use all of it.

Once the ball is formed, transfer to the counter and kneed by hand for 5 minutes

Oil a bowl and place dough in bowl covered with plastic wrap and a towel on top.  Since we keep our house cold I always let dough rise in the oven with the light on.  Let dough rise till doubled

Butter pan (you can use a deep dish pie pan or any oven safe pan) well and preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Make sure you use an oven thermometer cause the temp needs to be exact.

Once dough has risen, roll out dough on the counter to 1/4 inch thickness and wrap around your rolling pin as if you were making a pie crust.  Lay over your pan and slowly push the dough down the sides of the pan.  Trim off extra crust- as to much crust will make your pizza heavy and cave in.  Let dough sit in the pan for 30 minutes to rest and then brush crust with more butter.

While the dough is resting you can make your pizza sauce.  Crush the drained whole tomatoes by hand in a separate bowl till you get chunks and little liquid, pour in a little wine, stir in some oregano and basil and salt to your liking.  Taste as you go.

Time to assemble . . .  place the slices of cheese in the pan as the first layer on bottom.  

Place sausage in next, cover cheese completely.  You need to work the sausage to make one giant sausage patty.

Place tomato mixture on top of sausage and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.

Bake for 475 for 15 minutes and then lower temp to 400, cook till done about 25 minutes more!  



In the States Hamantashen is a traditional Purim treat.  Some believe that they are cookies that are representative of Haman's Hat and some believe they are representative of Haman's ears. Either way they are delicious and a great way to celebrate Purim with children or just have an excuse for these yummy cookies!

Ingredients . . . . 
1.5 cups of room temp butter
3/4 cup of sugar
2 room temp eggs
6 tablespoons OJ
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
4.5 cups of AP flour

Filling can be made of . . . . 
jams, jellies, pie fillings of your choice- anything goes to fill these guys.  I made a bunch of prune filled ones to satisfy my FIL's craving and lemon curd ones for my personal taste.  I also finished up some open jams in the fridge 

1. Cream together butter and sugar until creamy in a stand mixer.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in rest of wet ingredients.  Add baking powder and flour slowly till dough forms.  Chill dough in fridge 6-8 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Break off pieces of dough and warm in your hands, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick using a rolling pin and use a large drinking glass to cut out circles.  Continue doing this till you have no more dough- I get 40 circles out of this recipe.

3. Place a teaspoon of your filling in the center of your circle.  IMPORTANT- do not pinch like your Bubbie pinches you!!!!!  Fold the sides over to make a triangle and seal edges.  Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh no pinching!!!!!!

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, till bottoms have started to brown.  These are cookies that should be underbaked!