December 31, 2008

Good-Bye to 2008 and Triple Chocolate Truffle Bars

I've been thinking about this post for a couple of days now. I've been blogging for just over a year now. I didn't bother with a big "blogiversary" post as the holidays were taking up a lot of my time with cooking and prepping for our gathering. When I started this blog, it was because I had been inspired by other food blogs that I had read and learned quite alot from in the past. I never realized that by writing about cooking and my experiences that I would be connected to so many wonderful people! I've made some wonderful new friends this year through blogging.

I've become a bit more adventurous this past year in the types of recipes I'll attempt. My family has been really good sports as I make different recipes each time I head into the kitchen. I have been *nice* enough to repeat some favorites for them throughout the year as well. Gotta keep them happy, right? I also realized that I do have some limitations. I joined the Daring Bakers, but did not last beyond a couple of months. I just didn't have the time to make the rather lengthy recipes with so many different components. Perhaps one day when life slows down I'll go back and work my way through some of their past challenges.

For the coming year, I am setting a few cooking goals. My blog will continue to showcase my successes and failures (which, thankfully, aren't as often as they used to be!), cookbooks and products that I love. I'm also going to work toward learning some new cooking techniques throughout the year, and will be referring to Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook for many of those lessons. I also hope to create some more original recipes that I will share as I perfect them. I will continue to share links to other food blogs that have recipes that may inspire you as much as they do me. I always welcome comments and questions, so feel free to post a comment or email me directly.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who take the time out of your day to stop by and read about my cooking. I do appreciate each one of you, and hope you'll continue to enjoy what you find here. May each of you have a Happy and Healthy New Year in 2009!

Now, I couldn't leave you hanging without a recipe! I wouldn't do that to you! I made these amazing Triple Chocolate Truffle Bars (click HERE for the recipe) as part of a dessert plate I served for our Hanukkah gathering. They are V-E-R-Y rich and decadent, which is why I cut them into very small bite-size pieces.
They are so simple to prepare, but you will want to clean your knife after each slice to ensure clean cuts.
Looking for more sweet endings to 2008? Try these recipes:
Stacey at Simply Tasty made some incredible looking Saltine Toffee. That would be the first to go at any gathering where I am invited!
Deborah at Taste and Tell has shared some wonderful Banana and Chocolate Empanadas! Simply wonderful!
Head over to Stephanie's Kitchen for some Chocolate Mint Cookies that look irresistable!
Joy the Baker made a truly awe-inspiring Mocha Hazelnut Marble Cake that makes the loss of the perfect black dress a non-issue!
Cheers and Happy New Year from My Family to Yours!
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December 30, 2008

Our Family Feast to Celebrate Hanukkah

Last Saturday, we had our family over to celebrate Hanukkah. We had quite a feast, with everyone contributing something to it. I got pictures of most of it, but I think I may have missed a couple of dishes since everyone was ready to start digging in!
We started with Matzah Ball Soup, which I made with the homemade Chicken Broth that I mentioned last week. Next, we moved on to Roasted Chicken, Latkes, Spinach and Pancetta Risotto, Spinach Pie, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce and Homemade Bread (by My Husband!). It was truly a feast and everyone enjoyed each part of it.
I made the Roasted Chicken, and it turned out absolutely perfect! It was moist and the skin was nicely browned and crispy. Last week I tried Martha Stewart's method of a high temperature roast and rubbed butter on the skin. While it turned out nice and moist, we weren't as happy with the skin on it as it was not as crispy as we prefer.
Roast Chicken1
It sill looked really nice, but I adjusted it a bit when I made it on Saturday. Once I had it rinsed and dried, I stuffed it with a quartered onion, 4-5 cloves of garlic and a good hand full of fresh thyme. Then, I sprinkled the outside with some salt and pepper. The last thing I did was rubbed extra virgin olive oil all over the skin. I still roasted it in a 450 degree oven. The first 45 minutes, I roasted it uncovered so that the skin could brown properly. Then, I tented foil over it until it reached the proper temperature. It turned out moist and delicious! Everyone enjoyed it, and I had enough leftovers from the two roasted chickens to make chicken salad and a chicken noodle soup that I'll tell you about very soon.

Here are photos of some of the other dishes we enjoyed:

cranberry sauce
Cranberry Sauce
Spinach Pie
Spinach Pie
artisan bread1
Artisan Bread
I'll be sharing more on the bread my husband as well as the truffle bars that were part of the dessert plates this week. So, do come back and visit!

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December 28, 2008

Hanukkah Latkes

As this is the last night of Hanukkah, I thought I better share my Latkes! I only make them during Hanukkah, as they are special treat since they are fried in oil. I made them three times this year. My Boys absolutely love them - one likes them with sour cream and one with applesauce. Yes, they have different tastes.

I made them for our family gathering on Saturday night, which I will share more about on my next post. I prepared them a couple hours ahead of time, because they do take a bit of time to cook. Once I had them fried, I let them drain on a couple layers of paper towels. I kept them warm in the warming drawer of my stove (great feature if you don't happen to have a double oven, which I don't). They remained nice and crisp, and there were none left at the end of the meal - not even a crumb! I received many compliments on them, which of course, made me feel really great!

latkes 3a

I made my final batch of them tonight since it seemed My Boys still had not had enough of them. I'll be honest, I do not shred them on a box grater as many people suggest. I use my food processor and have had really great results shredding them in this way. I just make sure to squeeze out a majority of the liquid before I begin mixing the ingredients together.

Latkes were made all over last week:

Ruth at Once Upon a Feast made Potato, Zucchini and Curried Sweet Potato Latkes.

Prudence Pennywise made her Latkes with carrots and green onions in them. Yum!

Over at Aggie's Kitchen, she not only shared her Sweet Potato Latkes, but also her Sweet Noodle Kugel!

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

Adapted from The Complete Passover Cookbook


  • About 3 cups potatoes - shredded
  • 1/2 of a large onion - shredded
  • 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons matzah meal
  • 2 to 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Canola oil


  1. Using a food processor, shred both the potatoes and the onion. When transferring to a mixing bowl, squeeze out the excess into another bowl.
  2. Add the matzah meal, 2 eggs and salt to the potato and onion mixture. Mix thoroughly - go ahead, get your hands in there it's easier to mix that way. If the mixture does not appear to have enough egg to bind it a little bit together, add the 3rd egg.
  3. Heat enough canola oil in a large frying pan to measure approximately 1/4 inch or so high. Allow to heat up on medium-high setting on your stove top. Once the oil starts to crackle, form the mixture into patties. My skillet can accomodate about 5 patties, but mine measure no bigger than about 2-3 inches across. Do not overcrowd the pan or the oil temperature will be brought down too far and it will take a lot longer to fry them up. Allow to cook on one side until the edges start to become brown and crispy looking, then use a spatula to flip over. Once both sides are cooked up, place on several layers of paper towels. Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream.

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December 26, 2008

Peppermint Bark

Everyone has seen the pretty tins of Peppermint Bark that Williams-Sonoma sells. Well, no need to pay their high prices, and in the current economy many people won’t. It is simple to make with just a few ingredients. All you need to add is a pretty package to put it in so that you can give it to your friends and family. I’m planning on serving this on a cookie tray when we have everyone over for Hanukkah on Saturday night.

I first discovered this recipe when I was a member of my local MOMS Club. Every year, we had a cookie exchange and one of our members brought this a few years back. I fell in love immediately. She adds a bit of peppermint extract to the chocolate as it’s melting so that the flavor is distributed throughout each and every bite. If you aren’t a huge peppermint fan, then skip that part of the recipe.

It’s such a pretty holiday treat to give or receive. I like to store mine in the freezer after I have broken it into pieces so that it has that extra “cool” touch to it when nibbling.

Confections of a Foodie Bride also made Peppermint Bark for the holidays, but she opted to make it more swirly. Her's is so pretty!

HoneyB made pretty dipped pretzels, that were so festive and a hit with her co-workers.

If I had more time, I would have made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles from Weekend Cook. Of course, I did make a truffle type dessert for tomorrow night that I'll be sharing soon.

peppermint bark 2a

Peppermint Bark
Source: Harriet K.

1 pound dark chocolate
1 pound white chocolate
About 30 mini peppermint candy canes (broken into bits)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract


Place a sheet of wax paper on the bottom on of a rimmed baking sheet.

Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler. Once it has melted, add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
and stir to ensure it is well distributed. Immediately pour into the rimmed baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread to ensure it is even. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour to ensure it has hardened.

Once dark chocolate is back to solid form, melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted, pour over the dark chocolate, but work quickly so that it does not melt the dark chocolate. Spread with a spatula to ensure that it is even over the top. Then, sprinkle the candy cane bits over the top. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Break into pieces and serve.

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December 25, 2008

Make Your Own Chicken Broth!

I know we all keep some of those boxes (or cans) of chicken broth on hand since they are so convenient. However, when you try making it yourself it will become clear why you should keep some homemade broth on hand. It is so much more delicious. Your soups will have a deeper, richer flavor. I don’t mind using the boxed varieties when cooking weeknight dinners. Time is of the essence and I don’t always remember to think ahead to dinner time when I’m packing lunches in the morning.

There are a couple of different ways you can make your own broth. The traditional way is to get a big pot out and put it on the stove. Then fill your pot with your chicken bones that you’ve saved from your roasted chicken dinners. You cover the chicken with water and add your carrots, onions, fresh or dried herbs. Then you proceed to let the whole thing simmer quietly on your stovetop for several hours. The way I’ve been doing it recently is similar, but a bit faster since I use my Pressure Cooker. I haven’t been talking about it as much lately and really do need to break it out more often. When I make broth in my pressure cooker, it’s done in just about 1 hour. That includes time to bring it up to high pressure, allowing it to cook at high pressure and then using the natural release method.

With either method, it is still necessary to strain out all the solids from your delicious new broth. Once that is done, it is recommended to chill it overnight. If you live in an area of the country that has cold weather like we do, you can put your pot right out in the garage (I don’t like to put it outside since we have a few animals that visit overnight and would probably knock the lid off for a nibble). In the morning, simply spoon off the fat that collected on top.

The resulting broth will be perfect for your favorite chicken noodle soup or matzah ball soup recipe. It’s so worth the effort that you’ll want to keep some in the freezer all the time.

Looking for some fantastic soup recipes to use that homemade broth? Well, check out these blogs for inspiration:

The Crabby Cook made a Tuscan Bread Soup that would be a wonderful treat on any cold day.

Recipegirl uses up leftover turkey (or you can use leftover chicken) to make her Creamy Mexican Turkey (or chicken) Soup.

Go visit A Thousand Soups and you'll find step-by-step instructions on making your own Wonton Soup at home. Yum!

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December 24, 2008

Baked Orzo - Another Family Favorite

I want to take a moment and wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays no matter what you are celebrating! I also want everyone to know how much appreciate that you take the time to read my blog and often take the time to comment. I never imagined when I started this blog a year ago, that I'd make so many new friends in the blogging world.

Today, I’m sharing another family recipe with you. I’m not even sure who made it originally since I came into the family some time after it became a favorite. It’s so simple, that when I told my friend what was in it she was surprised. She’s not much of a cook, so I think she might even give it a try herself.

baked orzo 1

This can be served along side almost any meat main dish – chicken, beef or pork. Orzo looks so much like rice that many people think that’s what you’ve used. We like to make sure it bakes for the entire amount of time so that it gets that little bit of crunch to the top. The original recipe calls for water chestnuts and almonds, but since My Husband likes it better without that’s what I do. Just keeping the family happy!

Baked Orzo

Source: MomK, Aunt Sylvia (family recipe)

1 box of orzo, cooked to package directions
3 tablespooons canola oil
1 to 1 1/2 packages onion soup mix
1 small can of sliced mushrooms


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all ingredients into a baking dish. Bake, uncovered for about 30 minutes.

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December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah and a Fun Recipe (Pizza Bubble Ring)

Just want to take a moment to wish everyone celebrating a Happy Hanukkah! Tonight is the beginning of the holiday and we lit our first candle this evening. My Boys are very into celebrating this year and we picked up several books from the children's section at our library. I find that it's fun to read books about each holiday as we celebrate them. They were thrilled with their first gifts and are looking forward to the following nights. We'll be hosting family here next Saturday night, so I'll have some wonderful recipes to share next week.
Yesterday, I was paging through another cookbook I picked up from the library some time ago - they are going to be chasing me down for it as I think I've renewed it the maximum times already! So far, we've really enjoyed the recipes we've made from Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen. This time, the Pizza Bubble Ring caught my attention. What could be more fun to eat than a pizza style bread that you can pull apart and dip? My Boys were all in on this one.
I have to say that I did not have a tube pan to use for this recipe, so my bubble ring looked more like a short bunt cake! It was still really tasty and went over well with the kids. They have already asked if I would make it again tomorrow night for dinner.
pizza bubble ring 1
Check out these blogs for some other simple meal ideas:
Kristen at Dine and Dish made a No Stress Quiche - and be sure to enter her Pillsbury give away by leaving a comment! You could win a fun gift basket filled with some pie baking essentials!
Love and Olive Oil shared a Spaghetti alla Puttanesca that looks so wonderful, you'll want some bread to dip in the sauce so none of it is wasted!
Grumpys' Honeybunch made a Creamy Butternut Squash Soup that really looks perfect for the cold snowy days we've had lately.

Pizza Bubble Ring
Adapted from: Kosher By Design - Kids in the Kitchen

Non-stick Cooking Spray
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) - melted
2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 pounds fresh or frozen pizza dough
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce

Prehat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a tube pan with cooking spray.
Combine butter through onion powder and mix well with a spoon.
With a sharp knife, carefully divide dough into 40 small balls. Flatten a ball and place some of the mozzarella cheese in the middle. Then close up the dough around the cheese to seal and form into a ball. Dip ball in butter mixture, then place in tube pan. Repeat for all remaining dough.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle any remaining butter mixture over the top. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
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December 19, 2008

Cinnamon Chocolate Kiss Cookies

When the weather is snowy and cold, what else would you expect me to do? I baked another cookie! I've always loved the "kiss" cookies. Besides the amazing combination of peanut butter and chocolate, they make you smile when you see them.

I used a recipe I found in a holiday cookie magazine I picked up last year put out by Taste of Home. The recipe had only 5 ingredients, which is great because I have them all in the house. I wanted to take them up another notch, so I rolled the balls in a cinnamon sugar before baking them.

These cookies baked up beautifully. The cookie stayed soft inside, which is my preferred type of cookie.

I'm submitting these cookies to Susan at Foodblogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies round-up. She's had to start up a second post due to all of the amazing cookies being submitted. It's ok to look... no calories for looking!

You'll also want to check out these holiday treats... new one's are still popping up throughout the blogging world every day!

Amy at Nook & Pantry made a Brown Butter Gingersnap cookie that can be underbaked to give a nice chewy texture, or if you prefer a true "snap" bake them a bit longer... either way, they look positively yummy!

Head over to Fresh from the Oven and find out what the "secret" ingredient is in her Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

Joy the Baker shares a Black and White Cookie recipe that will make your mouth water... just check out the pictures and you'll be trying to decide which side of the cookie to eat first, too... or perhaps you'll do it the way Joy does it.

kiss 2A

Cinnamon Chocolate Kiss Cookies

Adapted from Taste of Home Cookies & Bars magazine

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
24 milk chocolate kisses


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg, beat until combined.

Roll into 3/4 inch balls, then roll in cinnamon sugar before placing on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Immediately place on chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Allow to cool 5 minutes on pans before removing.

About 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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Quick and Easy and Only 3 Ingredients (Tortellini with Proscuitto)

Today, we are waiting for this huge snowstorm that is coming our way. In spite of no snow or rain falling at the time we woke up, our kids have a snow day today. At any rate, My Husband is attempting to work from home while the boys are doing their thing. We’ll see how productive the day is by the time I get home. At any rate, for those in the Midwest who have already experienced the snowstorm effects, I hope you are all warm and cozy… and for those in the Northeast, let’s hope it’s not as bad as anticipated! I expect this kind of snow in late January or February… but, not December!

As I’ve mentioned before, I work outside the home so weeknights can be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes I get home and just don’t feel like pulling out a recipe I had marked for the night to make dinner. With My Husband working late the other night, I opted for a quick and simple dinner. When I say quick and simple, I’m talking about 3 ingredients and on the table in about 15 minutes at the most! Rachael Ray would be proud!
tortellini 1

Now, this is not a gourmet meal by any means. It does use ingredients I had on hand and tend to have hanging around in one form or another all the time. I had some Barilla Spinach and Cheese Tortellini and some proscuitto. How can you go wrong with those two ingredients on their own? I chopped up the proscuitto and rendered it down in a skillet and some pieces even got to a nice crispy texture, Yum! I added about a ¼ cup of chicken broth to the proscuitto when it was nicely cooked, then threw in the cooked tortellini – figured a little moisture would be a good thing to bring it all together. I added a sprinkle of chopped parsley – but that was primarily to add some color.

The Boys practically inhaled it! Yep, simple works with them. This was good because it was one of those of nights where I needed to come up with something filling that they would enjoy. I had some for lunch the next day and it was still quite tasty. So, next time you have a night that nothing appeals to you… look in that pantry and fridge and see what’s there. I imagine you have a quick and easy meal ready to go in a matter of minutes!

Looking for some other dinner time options? Here are the latest recipes I’ve seen lately… there are TONS of desserts and cookies, so it took a bit of searching to find these! After New Year’s we may not find a sweet for a month since everyone will be working off those extra calories by then!
Try the Crispy Yogurt Chicken over at Annie's Eats... it looks quick, easy AND Kid-Friendly!
Over at Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, she also emptied the fridge to create her Lasagna Rolls.
Or maybe your green beans need something more... head over to Closet Cooking and check out Kevin's Green Beans with Parmesan Bread Crumbs.
ps... as I am finishing this post, the snow has begun to fall. I'm sure My Boys are thrilled and will be out in it very soon!
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December 16, 2008

Martha's Jam Thumbprint Cookies

If ever there was a cookie that is a must for your holiday cookie platter, it’s Martha Stewart's Jam Thumbprint cookie. Even the most decorating challenged person can create a pretty cookie with this recipe. There is no icing involved and no rolling out dough and using cookie cutters. I’m still thinking there’s hope for me when it comes to those cookies, but that’s a post for another day.

I know I’ve said over and over how I don’t like nuts in cookies, cakes or breads. This is THE ONLY cookie I’ve ever included nuts in and truly enjoy. I think it has to do with the almonds being finely ground and used as the coating for the cookie before it is baked. I still detest large chunks of nuts in all manner of baked goods, this is just the one exception for me.

This cookie has a soft interior and a slightly crisp exterior. They are finished off with a small dab of jam in the center of them after they bake. I like to use Trader Joe’s Organic Jams since I don’t make my own. Their raspberry jam is simply addictive, and I always have at least one jar of it hanging around.

I had a bit of help in the kitchen with my baking last weekend, and thought I’d share a couple of quick pictures of my junior chefs showing off their baking skills:

IMG_8797 IMG_8796-edit1

I've had a number of questions asking about freezing cookies and defrosting them, so I thought I'd share how I do it today. The Jam Thumbprint cookies do freeze well, just be sure to put a layer of wax paper in between each layer of cookies in your freezer tight container. Allow to come to room temperature when you are ready to give as gifts or to serve for dessert. I do this for all cookies that I freeze and so far they've all come out just as delicious after their time in the deep freeze. Not all cookies freeze well, so you may want to do a "test" by freezing just a couple and bringing back to room temperature to see how they hold up.

thumbprint 2-edit

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read about the New Jersey Food Bank’s need for donations click HERE to see yesterday’s post. You can also click on the button in the left sidebar and it will take you directly to their website. Please consider helping out in any way you can. As I mentioned yesterday, no amount of assistance is too small.

Of course, there are many more cookies and other great treats being made around the food blogging world right now. Check out these recipes… in case you were short on ideas for this year! If not, mark them to try for the next holiday season, or day of baking you have planned.

Go on over to Dragon's Kitchen and you'll find Chocolate Almond Biscotti that will please any of your coffee or tea loving friends.

Stephanie's Kitchen recently made a decadent Oreo Fudge that may not make it into the gift basket because it's that irresistable.

And, what cookie tray would be complete without the stand-by, Peanut Butter Blossoms over at Delish?

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December 15, 2008

We Can't Let This Bank Fail

Across New Jersey today, Bloggers are bringing attention to the immediate need that the Food Bank of New Jersey has right now. With the current state of the economy hitting so many people across the nation right now, those who are in New Jersey are also impacted. Many who used to be able to donate to the Food Pantry may now be in need of their services. Unfortunately, the shelves are not as full as they once were.

Please read on to see how you can help. For those New Jersey citizens, you may have seen the ad campaign that Bruce Springsteen has been a part of recently, "We Can't Let This Bank Fail". The Food Bank is looking for people to help in any way possible to prevent the possibility of having to ration their food supplies in order to provide for all those who have requested assistance.

According to the Food Bank, "This is a state-wide crisis, with the unstable economy resulting in a 30 percent increase in those needing food. In years past, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey has provided assistance to more than 500,000 New Jerseyans, but expects to see a major uptick in need this year, especially during the winter months when people often struggle between paying heating and food bills."

Please visit The Statewide Emergency Food and Anti-Hunger Network site to find Food Pantries that are in your immediate area. They are all in need of assistance now more than ever.

As the state's key distributor of food to local banks – serving more than 500,000 people a year and providing assistance to nearly 1,700 non-profits in the state – the stability of replenishment of the CFBNJ is essential to ensuring that individuals in need have access to food.

If everyone could just do a little, it would help those in need a lot. To help, people can:

1. Make a monetary contribution: Visit
2. Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry.
3. Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD.
4. Help "Check Out Hunger:" Look for the "Check Out Hunger" coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small!

One thing that people commonly confuse is the role of the food bank. The CFBNJ is similar to a wholesale distributor, as they provide food to more than 1,600 charities throughout the state, which then give food directly to the hungry (the food bank does not give food directly to individuals). The food bank also does not accept small amounts of food, such as a cart of groceries. They encourage those donations go directly to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Rather, the food bank accepts large quantity food donations, such as a truck full of groceries, as well as monetary donations which they stretch to purchase food at wholesale prices, such as 300 lb. bags of rice, for example.

As a group, the bloggers listed below have joined together to bring this dire situation to light. Please consider helping in any way you can. As mentioned above, no donation is too small. You can help by making a donation while doing your usual grocery shopping. Or purchase an extra bag of groceries and drop that by your local food pantry site. Whatever you can do, is appreciated and will help those families in our state who are in need. At this time of year, those of us who are lucky enough to have food in our kitchens can afford to share a bit of that with those who are struggling. You never know when you might be the one in need in the future.

Please visit the blogs (over 100 NJ bloggers!) below as they will all be focusing on the Food Bank's needs today. It is an incredible group of people who have come together to help those in need by getting the word out.

Participating Bloggers for “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign

3) Jersey Girl Cooks
4) Simply Sable
5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey
6) Padma's Kitchen
7) Chefdruck
8) Life Lightly Salted
9) My Italian Grandmother
10) Cook Appeal
11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars
12) Mommy Vents
13) This Full House
14) Paper Bridges
15) Motherhood Avenue
16) The Kamienski Chronicles
17) Down the Shore with Jen
18) Fits and Giggles
19) House Hubbies Home Cooking
20) Nourish Ourselves
23) Off the broiler
24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby
28) Savy Source Newark
29) Momlogic New Jersey
33) Best of Roxy
34) Citizen
36) Jersey Beat
37) Pop Vulture Phil
41) Mike Halfacres Blog
42) Somerset08873
43) Family, Friends and Food
47) New Jersey Real Estate Report
49) More Monmouth Musings
50) Man of Infirmity
51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey
53) Average Noone
54) Cleary’s Notebook
55) Welcome to my Planet
56) The Center of New Jersey Life
57) Sharon’s Food Blog
58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate
59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News
60) New Jersey Real Estate
63) The Ridgewood Blog
64) Book a Week with Jen
65) Banannie
67) Matawan Advocate
68) Take Back the Kitchen
69) The Joy of Toast
70) Route 55
71) Montclair
72) SaveJersey
73) Stompbox
74) Joe the Blogger
75) Environmental Republican
76) Stacey Snacks
77) Subversive Garden
78) New Jersey Pathfinder
79) Cooking With Friends Blog
80) Triple Venti
81) Read All About It
82) Rich Lee on Media
83) Likelihood of Success
84) Cape Cuisine
85) The Business At Hand
86) NewJerseyTaxRevolution
87) Figmentations
88) MiddletownMike
89) Caviar and Codfish
90) A Day in the Life
91) Mack’s Journey Through Life
92) Alice’s Restaurant
93) Tiger Hawk
94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog
95) The Food Chain
96) Henson’s Hell
97) Cranbury Conservative
98) Baristanet
99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual
100) Jersey Shore Blog
101) Plainfield Today
102) Beacon Bulletin
103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306

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December 12, 2008

Taking a Brief Break from Baking (Pasta with Sausage, Cannellini Beans & Spinach)

I know, I’ve been baking A LOT lately. As I mentioned before, baking is a wonderful distraction for stressful days. But, just so the world doesn’t think I haven’t been feeding my family nice healthy meals at the same time, it’s time to share a healthy dinner.

Now, I started with a Cooking Light recipe, but as I was assembling my ingredients I ended up making a number of changes. I’m sure the original recipe is tasty and satisfying, but I wanted to work with what I actually had on hand. No extra trips to the grocery store for me.

This was a quick and easy meal to make for a weeknight. I can always get my kids to eat pasta and sausage, and this time the spinach was gobbled up as well. We are still working on a love of tomatoes, but I figure if I keep serving them in various forms eventually they’ll come around. With the tomatoes and spinach, it made such a colorful plate filled with healthy ingredients. I even had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were delicious!

So, in the midst of all the holiday baking, make sure to enjoy some lighter dinner and lunch options… this should offset all of the indulging we are bound to do this time of year.

I’ll be back to baking this weekend as I still need to get a few more cookies ready for the freezer. I think one or two more should do the trick… although I will have to make more of those Peanut Butter Surprises from last week for the men’s poker game that is coming up.
In the midst of all the holiday baking, there are some dinner ideas popping up around the food blogging world. Be sure to check out these blogs for some great dinner ideas:
No one can resist a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup, and Kevin at Closet Cooking has made a really delicious version of it.
I adore mushrooms, so when I saw the recipe for Pan-Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic Spinach at I'm Running to Eat my mouth was watering!
For a change of pace, try going vegetarian one night a week with Love and Olive Oil's Orechiette with Lentils, Onions and Spinach.
sausage farfalle spinach1
I’m sharing the recipe below, but as I mentioned I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, so it’s not really CL’s recipe anymore.

Pasta with Sausage, Cannellini Beans and KaleAdapted from Cooking Light

8 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 cup of chopped shallots
3 links of Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset blend – my favorite Italian Seasoning)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can of petite diced tomatoes - drained
1 ounce shaved fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Turkey Sausage, garlic and shallots; cook 10 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble. Add Italian seasoning and broth to pan. Stir in spinach; cook until it is wilted. Allow to come to a boil and cook down slightly. Stir in pasta and beans.
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