Thursday, May 31, 2012

Creamy Caprese Pasta

There is something about the sheer mention of anything "caprese" that immediately peaks my interest.  I don't believe a combination of ingredients has captured my attention since macaroni and cheese were combined!  I just love home-grown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil clipped straight from the garden tossed together.  The flavors compliment each other so well and as I sit, shoveling usually, the salad into my mouth I feel as if I am doing something good for my body, because as we all know, if a vegetable is involved there can be nothing unhealthy about it....right guys?  

I hold firm to that belief even in the face of fried okra!  

I recently came across this recipe on a new blog I found (well not necessarily new, but new to me) called  My favorite part of this recipe was that I really already had so many of the ingredients so it was perfect for a Wednesday night dinner....oh and it took all of 20 minute to put together...not sure it gets much better than that!

Creamy Caprese Pasta
as adapted from

1 pound whole wheat pasta (noodles such as penne work best)
1 cup of your favorite pasta/tomato sauce
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
1 pint of grape tomatoes (I cut some in half and left some whole)
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.
Once pasta is done cooking, drain and dump into the sauce, mixing to coat and turning off heat. 
Fold in mozzarella cubes and tomatoes, then chop 3-4 fresh basil leaves and add them in too. 
Once combined, spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire pasta mixture into the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds. 
Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Top with additional fresh basil and grated cheese.

Serve with garlic bread. You can also add in chicken, steak or seafood for some protein.

Bottom was incredible, it was a great twist on my favorite salad and I will be having this often as I will have a plethora of tomatoes and basil coming from the garden!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

The potato....probably my greatest weakness on the face of the planet.  There isn't a way you could serve me potatoes that I wouldn't love them...fried, mashed, stuffed, baked, or roasted...YUM!  It makes my mouth water just thinking about these divine veggies.  Are they actually a veggie or is that just the South trying to consider something unhealthy healthy?  We do that you know...not intentionally, we just like to make sure we have a balanced meal!  Sort of....I digress!

Potatoes might be my great downfall but I am 100% ok with that as they make me happy and what more can you ask out of food but to bring you joy and happiness??  

Nothing I tell you!

For a big Sunday dinner in celebration of Memorial Day, and in great thanksgiving to all the brave men and women who have served our country, friends and family gathered for a feast including bourbon beef tenderloin, arugula caesar salad, sauteed mushrooms, buttered rosemary rolls and a new dish I was dying to try, twice baked potato casserole.

One of my favorite sides of all time are my dad's stuffed potatoes.  They have been a staple at family dinners for years so when I came across this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was going to be a keeper!  It was a great side that was easy to make ahead of time, throw in the oven and have piping hot, ready for the dinner table when the rest of the meal was ready!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
As adapated from

5 lbs. russet potatoes
10 slices bacon
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chives minced
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese grated
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. 
Place potato chunks in a large saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. 
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. You want to be able to poke it with a fork easily. Drain, return to pan, cover, and set aside (at this point I went ahead and threw in the butter so that the heat would melt it).
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp and browned, turning once. Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool, and crumble into small pieces.
Mash the potatoes in pan until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream, and stir until combined and smooth. 
Add the chives, 2 cups cheddar cheese, half the bacon, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.
Transfer to a buttered 3-quart baking dish. 
Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake until top is slightly golden and potatoes are heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; garnish with remaining bacon. Serve immediately.

This is my new puppy, Percy, and he likes to lay on the kitchen floor while I cook....evidently we have both become quite attached to each other!
But how can I not be in love when he is so stinking cute????
Being Memorial Day weekend, we were naturally at the pool which was a blast!  Emory is getting so big and has found his place at the pool....sitting in the doorway to Ma's room!
He loves playing with the hose even though the pool is just a few feet away...go figure!
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Maggie's Jalapenos Popper Dip

The best part about having a sister-in-law who is an amazing cook is that I get some incredible blog posts and don't have to do any of the work!  Maggie is awesome in the kitchen but more than that she is always trying new recipes which is so fun and always delicious!  Recently we all gathered (I know you are shocked) to fry a turkey and some hot chicken (stand by for that post) when Maggie offered to bring an appetizer.  Per the usual she knew her audience and did not disappoint with this jalapeno popper dip!  

This would be perfect to make for a pool side party, a back yard barbecue or a dinner party with friends!  If people like spicy (and even for those that don't think they like spicy) this is the perfect addition to any spread!

Maggie's Jalapenos Popper Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
1 (4 ounce) can sliced jalapenos (pickled), drained
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated

Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.
Mix the panko bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle over the dip.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.
And one more just for good measure!
Emory was having a ball in the back yard playing with Jennifer and the Easter eggs!
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Sunday, May 27, 2012



Here is my last post from our vacation in paradise, Eluthera.  For our final dinner on this beautiful island we decided to go to the lovely Tippy's, a local favorite dining spot.  With the windows open, the bar framing the picturesque ocean-front vista and the smell of delicious dishes emanating from the kitchen, patrons to this heavenly hot spot are sure to have a meal they will not soon forget! 
Welcome to Eluthera's finest dining establishment, that is in my humble opinion of course!
Sitting at the bar waiting for our table we were blown by the warm ocean breeze, served the most delicious mojitios and serenaded by the incredible house band.
As we were taken to our set I realized we might have the best seat in the house!  With a clear view of the band and a bird's eye view into the kitchen life doesn't get much better for this diner.
Here are some pictures from our table...
Then came the delicious meal...
Let's start with the house salad with spring rolls....or the arugula Caesar saland...
Then onto the entrees of fresh fish...
We had hog fish...
Mahi Mahi
Shrimp and Lobster Pasta in a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
Meet Biz, he loved Nicoll and I think she would have taken him home if she could have!
Everything was perfection and the atmosphere only got better as the night went on!
Even though we had to say good bye to paradise it was a trip and an experience we will not soon forget
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