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!

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