Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cool Veggie Pizza Squares

I couldn't tell you exactly how old I was when these ridiculously good appetizers came into my life, but for as long as I can remember, my mom would make and bring these to almost every family gathering we had - birthdays, holidays, cookouts. I'm pretty sure she got the recipe from a Pampered Chef party a while back, but I like to think of them as another special recipe of my hers that I can continue to share. They are as equally delicious as they are simple and the veggies can change depending on what you have or the season. For Christmas, I love using only green and red (broccoli and red peppers), but year-round I'll add in other colors (yellow/orange peppers, cucumbers, carrots, etc.). Try them out and I promise they will be a hit at your next social gathering! 

  • 1 package Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese (regular, low fat or fat free.. whatever you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 crown broccoli, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped 

  1. "Pop" crescent roll package and lay out onto un-greased non-stick cookie sheet, stretching and flattening to form a single rectangular shape.
  2. Bake according to package directions (I believe 10-13 minutes at 375 degrees). Let cool.
  3. Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise and dill weed in a bowl and beat on medium speed.
  4. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on the cooled, baked crescent roll dough.
  5. Cut into bite-sized squares (about 2x2 inches) (I like to cut the squares before I top with veggies because I find the veggies tend to fall off if you cut afterwards, but this is totally your preference).
  6. Top with chopped veggies.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate Christmas Kiss Cookies

Our department decided to do a cookie swap at work this year so I was on a mission to come up with something original, tasty and festive. The second I saw candy cane hershey kisses at the grocery store I knew exactly what I wanted to make! I found this recipe for Chocolate Kiss Cookies and tweaked it a bit to add some holiday flavor. I highly recommend trying if you're looking for a cute, Christmasy treat!

  • 1 1/4 cups butter


Have you ever read or heard something and the words somehow perfectly express a feeling or emotion that you've never fully been able to articulate? Well, that happened when I came across this article. I felt compelled to share - not because I am particularly sad or angry or emotional about my mom's passing at this very moment. But because I've never seen in writing a more spot on expression of the experience of losing a parent.

“My relationship with my mom is really the single most profound relationship that I’ve ever had in my life,” she tells me. “By the way, it seems like I’m … I’m just blowing my nose. It’s not because I’m sad.” She has allergies and a cold, she promises. But her voice breaks when she starts talking about how she sat down with a pen and paper and asked her mother to give her all the advice she could possibly give her before she died, and Kaling realized she’d never be able to ask her mother for advice again. “I said to her, ‘Mom, I’m going to be so lonely without you.’” She’s crying now but keeps going. “And she just said, ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’”
One gets the sense that Kaling hasn’t given herself a chance to grieve, nor does she really want the chance. “Maybe I’ll be able to look back in a couple of years and understand,” she says. If she gets too reflective, she’ll get bogged down in sadness and anger thinking about how much her mother would have loved what was happening to her right now. “I like to move forward … I don’t know how much it would help for me to think about things too much. It just seems so fucking unfair. So I get on my elliptical machine and listen to some Rihanna and try to forget about this bullshit.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

BBQ Chicken Calzone

I've gotten a lot of feedback on my Chicken Parm Calzone posted here, so I wanted to share another great calzone recipe that I've tried. In my opinion, this is even better (and easier) than the chicken parm! Try it and let me know what you think!

  • 1 ball of pizza dough (or make your own)
  • 1 pkg. chicken (I used tenders)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Cornmeal
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto your pizza stone
3) Roll out dough into a semi-rectangular shape (make sure dough is room temperature before you start rolling)
4) Once dough is rolled, leave about 4 inches in the center and cut approx. 1 1/2-2 inch strips on each side (see picture below)
5) In the meantime, boil a pot of water and add chicken breast tenders. Boil chicken approx. 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Drain chicken and let cool.
6) Next, heat approx. 1 tsp. olive oil in a frying pan and add chopped red onion. Saute about 3-4 minutes or until soft.
Set aside.
7) Once chicken is cooled down, shred/cut chicken into pieces
8) Place chicken into bowl and add onion, bbq sauce and cilantro
9) Combine mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and mix together. Spread approx. 1/2 cup on dough
10) Add chicken mixture and spread evenly
11) Top with remainder of cheese mixture and remainder of cilantro
12) Close calzone by criss-crossing the cut strips of the dough (see picture below).
13) Brush egg white on enclosed calzone (this helps to brown up the crust)
14) Bake for 25-30 minutes

Perfect for a football game or holiday party! I promise you, your guests will LOVE it.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Boots Boots Boots

If I'm being honest, there is not much I like about winter. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. And I do get a little excited at the first sight of snow. But, aside from that, I pretty much go into a seasonal depression. But I have to say there is this thing about boots that makes the sting of cold weather just a little more bearable. I am constantly searching for new styles I can add to my collection, so I figured I'd share some of my favorite boot possessions, as well as ones I am lusting over! It's okay to add yourself to your Christmas shopping list, right?!? ;)
Panoa boots by Guess
I got these as a gift two Christmases ago and I am obsessed with them! I literally wear them every other day and the leather is starting to wear around the toe area. I actually had a bit of trouble finding these available online and I am contemplating buying a 2nd pair for backup before they are completely unavailable... but I haven't been able to bite the bullet yet. I am still holding on hope that the pair I have will last forever!

Newworld Platform boots by Nine West

I came across these boots totally unintentionally a few weeks ago and I'm so happy I did! I probably have 3 other pairs of black boots (1 pair of heels, 1 pair of flats and 1 pair of wedges), but you know when you go to the mall searching for an outfit for a certain occasion... and you find something totally not what you thought you were looking for that you love... but then you realize you don't have the right shoes to wear with it... but you buy it anyway... and hope and pray that you will get really lucky and find the right pair of shoes before that said occasion... that is TOMORROW!?!  Well... that is exactly the story behind these pretty little things. I needed black boots (with heels, of course) to go with the outfit I found, but the ones I owned were extremely uncomfortable and I knew I would be miserable if I had to wear them all night. With very low expectations, I decided to browse through Macy's on my way out of the mall. These instantly caught my eye, and considering the big heel, were THE most comfortable boots I have ever tried on in my entire life! I was so surprised I actually found something so quickly and obviously had to have them. And an even bigger surprise was that they were on sale. I paid $63 bucks for these (almost half off)!!!! This purchase was obviously meant to be.

Intyce by Steve Madden (in Cognac)
These are another purchase that I've been loving (and living in) for about 2 years. They are super comfortable and the perfect weekend boot. If you ask anyone who owns these boots, I guarantee they will tell you that they don't know how they even survived without them! They are totally worth the money and I actually love them so much I recently purchased them in Stone, as well:
They are a little lighter in person, but I still love them. Regardless of the color, this style is evidently very popular and can be purchased several places - Nordstroms, Dillards, Amazon, Zappos, Piperlime. I've found the price to be about the same everywhere, but if you use coupon code BFF25 on you can get them for 25% off PLUS free shipping (I'm pretty sure it expires tomorrow though!) Totally worth the money.

Minka boots by Style&Co.
These were another pair that I bought when I had no need or intention to buy any more boots (have you sensed a theme here??), but my cousin was on the prowl for something somewhat dressy that she could wear comfortably all around NYC, and these are just that. They can definitely be casual, but also are sort of edgy with the faux zipper down the back. We both bought a pair and my only complaint is they sometimes are a little squeaky when I walk. I'm pretty sure they are synthetic leather, but they didn't break the bank (I believe I got them for about $50 bucks at Macy's with a coupon), so overall I'm pleased with this purchase and would definitely recommend if you are looking for a comfortable boot that can easily switch from day to night.

Adora Bootie by Jessica Simpson (Espresso)
I've had these for about a year and I definitely think I've gotten my money's worth. I needed a pair of dark brown boots to go with some work pants and these do the trick. I love how the heel is so thick, and although I don't wear these much outside of the office, they would definitely be cute with a pair of skinny jeans as well.
Now for the boots I am dreaming about, that I will probably never own..............
Lesly Ankle Boot by Michael Kors
Lesly Knee Boot by Michael Kors

I adore these two-toned riding boots that Kourtney Kardashian is wearing above and after a bit of research, determined that they are Chanel. I am obviously dreaming. I also found these Michael Kors ones that are similar, but I don't love them as much. Regardless, I am refraining myself from buying either. Oh, to be a celebrity.....

Melissa Trapunto boots by Frye (Cognac or Dark Brown)


(sort of) Skinny Chicken Broccoli Ziti

There is something about cold days and longer, darker nights that make salads and "healthy" dinners sound so unappealing. I am always trying to think of ways to health-ify dishes that are originally not so healthy, but oh so good. The other night, I attempted to whip up some chicken broccoli ziti, that didn't involve heavy cream and loads of butter. It turned out pretty good, and while it could have used some more salt and maybe a tad more flavoring, I'd say this is a recipe to turn to when you are craving some comfort food.. without the comfort calories. Try it this week and let me know what you think!

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 crowns broccoli
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup skim or 1% milk
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, freshly minced (I use my food processor)
  • 2 cups whole wheat ziti
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Add water to two pots and boil - one for pasta, one for broccoli.
  2. Chop up broccoli and add to boiling water for 4-5 min (or until desired firmness. I like my broccoli cooked well, but be careful not to over-cook or broccoli will fall apart when you add to pasta). Set aside when done.
  3. Add 2 cups ziti to second pot and cook pasta as directed. Drain and set aside in same pot.
  4. Cut up chicken breasts into cubes and place in ziploc bag
  5. Add 2 tbsp. of flour and a few pinches of salt and pepper to ziploc bag and shake so that chicken is coated evenly with flour.
  6. In a small saute pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and add 2 tbsp. of the minced garlic. Heat on med-low for 1 min.
  7. Add chicken and cover. Let chicken cook on med-low for appox. 5 min. Stir to allow for even cooking, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. When chicken is cooked through, remove from heat and set aside. Chicken should be browned on the outside.
  8. While chicken is cooking, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, remaining garlic (about 1-2 tbsp.), 1/2 cup milk, and 1 tbsp. flour. Bring to boil and whisk continuously. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk and remaining 1 tbsp. flour.
  9. Lower heat to med/med-high and gradually add in Parmesan cheese. Continue whisking. Sauce should turn creamy and thicken.
  10. Add salt and pepper to sauce, to taste. I also added a bit of fresh squeeze lemon juice to sauce.
  11. Once sauce is done, pour half over pasta and stir. Add chicken, broccoli and remaining sauce and mix all together.
  12. Serve and top fresh squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese (the extra parm. cheese can be skipped, but I highly recommend adding the lemon juice, as it gives the dish a lot more flavor).
Serve. Enjoy. Love.