Monday, December 27, 2010

Dijon Crusted Pork Loin

Yummy snow day dinner!! I had a pork loin frozen so I defrosted it for dinner tonight. I've only prepared pork loin in the crockpot or on the grill, so I searched around on food network for some ideas. I watched this video, and it was the inspiration for this meal.

It came out good, and I normally do not like mustard. The crust was delicious.

Dijon Crusted Pork Loin


1 Boneless Pork Loin
2 tbs olive oil, plus more, plus more
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
lemon zest
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbs butter, melted
salt and pepper
3 large butter potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375

Heat a pan on the stove top to med high. Add olive oil. Season pork liberally with salt and pepper. Sear all sides in the pan until a nice crust forms. Place in roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, thyme, lemon zest and juice, garlic and butter. Brush onto meat.

Season potatoes and carrots with salt, pepper, thyme and toss with olive oil. Place around pork. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.

ZACH'S RATING - *** 1/2

Iced Sugar Cookies

I thought I was done with baking for the season but then we had a snow day! Plus, I got a bunch of new cookie cutters from Santa, so I had to try them out.

Cecily and I made these today, it was a lot of fun!

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Recipe from


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


1.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Cookie Icing

Recipe from

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (sifted after measuring)
1 tablespoon low-fat milk (skim or 1% is fine although I have made this successfully using 2% fat milk)
1 tablespoon corn syrup (more if needed to reach desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring (use colors of choice)


1 VERY IMPORTANT; the confectioners sugar must be sifted before using.

2 In a bowl beat the sifted confectioners sugar with milk until smooth.

3 Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until smooth and glossy (if icing is too thick add in a small amount of corn syrup).

4 Divide into as many separate bowls as desired.

5 Add in different food coloring to each bowl beating/whisking until the intensity is achieved.

6 Paint the icing over the cookies using a brush or dip the cookie edges into icing (this will set quite quickly).

7 Place cookies on waxed paper to dry.

And as a side note, Happy 5 months to my boy!

Gingerbread Waffles

These were a new addition to Christmas morning this year and they were really great! It makes a dense, cake-like waffle with great gingerbread flavor.

We also had Papa's breakfast casserole, fruit, monkey bread, coffee and mimosas.

Gingerbread Waffles
Recipe from Rachael Ray


3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron
Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table


Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not overstir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with toppings of choice.

Breakfast is served!

place settings

Santa came!!

Cecily was excited!

Christmas love
Thursday, December 23, 2010

Annual Taylor/Maizel/Luciano Holiday party

I love having the chance to entertain during the holidays, especially having our great friends the Maizels and Lucianos over. This tradition started 3 years ago when the "big kids" were only 2 1/2. I cannot believe how much our families have grown! Next year there will be another place at our table since Allison is having another little girl in a little over a week!

This was the perfect excuse to take out my good china and crystal and set a beautiful table. I served baked chicken, mashed potatoes, baked acorn squash, and caramelized green beans. Everything came out great, if I do say so myself :)

Here is the acorn squash, the only new recipe I used. Really festive and delicious.
Baked Acorn Squash
Recipe from Paula Deen


1 acorn squash, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash cavities and discard. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt and pepper, to taste. Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve 1 half per person.

The ladies
The Big kids, so grown up compared to last year!

The little ones, at least they are all in the picture

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Last bit of baking before Christmas. I can't believe its 2 days away!! I decided to make Peanut Butter Blossoms because, well, they are awesome! And they are Zach's favorite.

I used the recipe from Hershey's. They came out great.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from Hershey's


48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar


1 Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2 Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3 Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Friday, December 17, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

Zach and I made this meal years ago and loved it, I am not sure what took us so long to do it again. So easy, really healthy, and delicious. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta and has about 35 calories per cup!!! Now I don't feel so bad about eating those Gingerbread cookies!

I can't even call this a recipe, so I'll just tell you what I did. I pierced the squash with a knife all over and baked for an hour on 375. Took it out and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Cut in half and scooped out the seeds and then removed the "spaghetti" with a fork. Seasoned with salt and pepper, some extra virgin olive oil, and topped with homemade sauce (I defrosted some last night) and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gingerbread Men

I am definitely not a natural baker and these are a bit on the complicated side (for me anyway!!) but Cecily and I had a blast making them today. They actually turned out great! Time consuming but not too hard and really fun to decorate!

Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe from

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

1 In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
2 In a large bowl (KitchenAid's great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
3 Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended.
4 Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
5 Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
6 (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.) Preheat oven to 375°.
7 Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
8 Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
9 Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
10 Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
11 Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
12 Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.
13 Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
14 Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!).
15 Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
16 After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like.


Cecily and I have been baking some Christmas cookies this week. Of course that means I have been eating a lot of cookies!! New years and a new diet isn't far away, might as well enjoy the season, right?!

This recipe comes from Cecily's preschool teacher. Last year for Mothers Day they put together an adorable recipe box filled with recipes from the whole class. These are Mrs. Johnson's Snickerdoodles.



1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter soft
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon


Mix Sugar, butter, and eggs. Stir in flour cream of tartar, salt and baking soda. Chill dough. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Roll cookie in the mixture and bake at 375 for 10-12 mins.
Monday, December 13, 2010

Salisbury Steak

I never thought I would be making Salisbury Steak. Bad school lunch is what I always associated with it , but when I came across this recipe in the Food Network Magazine last night, I was surprised at how good it looked!

I enjoyed this meal, it was easy to prepare and pretty tasty. I would definitely make it again, but I would use beef broth instead of water in the sauce to make it the flavor a bit richer.

Salisbury Steak
Recipe from The Food Network


1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
7 saltine crackers, finely crushed (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Buttered egg noodles, for serving (optional)


Gently mix the beef, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl using your hands. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into oval patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the patties, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, scraping up any browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then stir in 2 1/2 cups hot water and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, swirling to combine.

Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the patties are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with noodles, if desired.

ZACH'S RATING - *** 1/2
Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homemade Chicken Soup

Rainy, cold day and a sick little girl = perfect day for homemade chicken soup just like Mommy used to make. Delicious and healthy. Sending a container to my poor sister stuck at home with the flu.

Homemade Chicken Soup


1 pkg split chicken breasts
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 bay leaves
4 bouillon cubes
1 6 oz bag baby spinach
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
1/2 lb Ditalini or other small pasta
dried basil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese


In a large soup pot, add carrots, celery and onion. Wash breasts and remove skin. Add to pot. Cover with water and set heat to high. Add bay leaves, bouillon, basil, thyme and salt and pepper. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 1 hour.

In a separate pot, cook pasta al dente. Remove chicken from soup and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove meat and add back into the soup. Drain pasta and add to soup as well. Right before serving, add in whole bag of spinach and stir until wilted. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

ZACH'S RATING - **** 1/2
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken Curry

Monday afternoon Cecily, Finn and I went to my cousin Ali's for a playdate. Our boys are only 10 days apart, it is so cute to see them together!!

For dinner Ali made Lentils Curry. It was something different than anything I make and I really loved it. I've avoided Indian spices in the past because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Boy was I wrong!

One of the best things about this dish is how versatile it is. Tonight I made it with chicken. Really really delicious and super healthy. We ate it plain like a stew, but it would have been great over rice as well.

Chicken Curry


1 lb chicken breast, cubed
3 carrots chopped
yellow bell pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
red onion small dice
1 large potato med dice
veg oil
1 sm can diced tomatoes
2 cups veg/ck broth
garahm masala
grated ginger
(or a premixed curry powder & masala powder)


Any of the ingredients and portions can be changed to whatever you want

heat oil
add onion and sweat it before adding garlic, ginger and dry spices
cook til very fragrant (abt 30-60 sec)
add tomatoes cook for 60 sec
add broth
add chicken at this point and simmer partially before adding veggies and potatoes
bring to a boil then simmer and cover til cooked through about 45 mins

serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous, pita bread, etc

Phoenix and Finn. Two cutest boys I know!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Upside Down Fettuccine & Sausage Bake

I've had this recipe saved for awhile, and honestly I am not even sure what the source is. I liked how the pasta was layered on the bottom with the sausage and sauce on top, different than other baked pasta dishes. I wouldn't say it was an amazing dinner, but it was a tasty meal.

Upside Down Fettuccine & Sausage Bake


8 ounces fettuccine noodles, freshly cooked
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 - 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Brown sausage in a medium skillet. Add onion during the last few minutes,. Drain off excess fat. Cook the fettuccine according to directions. Add entire can of tomatoes (including liquid) to the sausage mixture. Add the oregano and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over tomato mixture.

Mix the eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, butter, parsley and garlic powder together in a separate bowl. Toss the noodles with the mixture. Spread noodle mixture in a 10-inch quiche or cake pan. Pour the sausage mixture over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired. Cut into wedges, serve.
Saturday, November 27, 2010

Caramelized Butternut Squash

First apples, then pumpkin, and now squash. Its my third fall cooking obsession. I made this last week with chicken cutlets. They were so good, I could eat them like candy. I popped one in Cecily's mouth before she had a chance to argue and she ended up eating a whole serving.

Caramelized Butternut Squash
Recipe from, by way of Beantown Baker


1 lb butternut squash
1.5 tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper


Heat oven to 400°F.

Peel squash and chop into large pieces.

Combine squash, butter, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss.

Pour squash out onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for about an hour or until browned.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Butternut Squash and Spinach Bake

I usually make a dessert for Thanksgiving but this year I decided to contribute a side dish. I came across this recipe on the Beantown Baker and had to try it. I love spinach and I love squash, how could I go wrong?

It was really unique and delicious. I will definitely be making this again. It was a lot of prep work, but easy to put together once all the chopping was down. The only change I would make next time is to add more pecans, possibly double what the recipe calls for.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Bake
Recipe from
Beantown Baker


3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 6 cups)
10 oz fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, trimmed, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish or 4-quart casserole.

Place 3 quarts water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the squash to the water, return to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. The squash will turn a deeper orange. Add spinach to squash and boil one more minute. Drain squash and spinach and set aside.

Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and limp, about 8 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add the warm squash and the buttermilk, eggs, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pecans and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients are well combined.

Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 cup pecans and 2/3 cup cheese. Bake 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

And now some holiday pictures!

The table at my Aunts house, Thanksgiving #1 for 48!!

Me and the kids

Zach and I

Thanksgiving #2 at the Taylors

Family shotCecily and Finn in their matching PJs

Turkey Trot 5k

What a great start to Thanksgiving morning!! For the 2nd year in a row I ran the Turkey Trot in Morristown and this year I was joined by my sister Jillian for her first 5k!

It was a fun race with over 1,000 runners. It was a brisk morning, perfect for running. I was still slow, but felt much stronger than I did a few weeks ago in hoboken. I'm getting there! Jill and I finished in 38:10, crossing the finish line together.

Cecily wasnt too thrilled that we woke her up at 6:30 for this

Waving at the start
Coming down the home stretch

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crockpot Lasagna

I'll admit I was skeptical, but this was awesome!!! I doubt I'll make it the regular way ever again!

Crockpot Lasagna
Recipe from
Christina Cooks

1 pound bulk Italian turkey sausage
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
45 oz. homemade spaghetti sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
15 no boil lasagna noodles

1. Cook sausage and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomato sauce, basil and salt.
2. Mix 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. (Refrigerate remaining mozzarella cheese while lasagna cooks.)
3. Spoon one-fourth of the sausage mixture into 6-quart slow cooker; top with 5 noodles, broken into pieces to fit. Spread with half of the cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture. Top with 5 noodles, remaining cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture. Top with remaining 5 noodles and remaining sausage mixture.
4. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or until noodles are tender.
5. Sprinkle top of lasagna with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover and let stand about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into pieces.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Caramelized Green Beans

This awesome side dish from Our Best Bites was a big hit tonight. My friend Ryan who doesn't like green beans cleaned his plate and thought they were awesome. Can't wait to make them again!!

Caramelized Green Beans
Adapted from
Our Best Bites


1 lb. fresh green beans
4 oz prosciutto, thickly sliced and cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt


Begin frying the prosciutto in a large skillet. Start boiling a large pot of water. Place beans in a colander and rinse them well. Then snap the ends off and snap them in half.

Prepare the sauce by mixing sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl

Add onions and garlic to skillet

Add beans to boiling water. Place colander in a clean sink. Boil for one minute; you're not cooking them until they're done, just blanching them to take the edge off. Meanwhile, stir the onions and garlic so they don't scorch. After one minute, drain beans in the colander in the sink.

Once beans have been drained, add them to the onions and garlic. Stir fry 2-3 more minutes.

Give your sauce a quick stir and then pour on top of the beans. Keep stir-frying until the beans get kind of glazy. Stir fry for another 2 minutes. Keep stir frying until the sauce sticks to the beans and the prosciutto. Transfer to a serving dish and allow to stand a few minutes so the beans cool down a bit and the glaze thickens up a little.

A closer look at the beans

Served with grilled flank steak that I marinated in Wegman's Teriyaki marinade. SOOO good.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Salsa Chicken

Seems like everyone has their own version of this recipe, here's mine! Easy and delicious!

Salsa Chicken


3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 jar mild salsa
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
2 cups frozen corn
Cooking spray


Coat crockpot in cooking spray. Place chicken breasts on bottom and cover with salsa. Mix in the remaining ingredients and cook for 6-8 hours on low. Shred chicken. Serve with yellow rice or tortillas with your favorite toppings.
Monday, November 8, 2010

Homemade Baby Food

I have decided that I would like to make Finn's baby food at home instead of buying it since it is healthier and much less expensive! I have been reading up on it and started today with a batch of peas. Even though he isn't old enough yet, we have a deep freezer so I want to start making it now so that I have a jump start on it.

I have my eye on the Beaba Babycook but in the meantime I used my small crockpot and blender. 1 cup of fresh peas and 1/2 cup water for 4 hours on high. Puree in the blender and its done! I am freezing small portions in this tray I got at babies r us back when Cecily was a baby.

I've been using as my guide.

And now for some cuteness!

My little prince

My two kiddos

Me and my little man

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