4-Bean Salad

Looking for a cool, refreshing, easy side vegetable that stays good for more than a couple of days? Enter Nana’s 4-Bean Salad, which I made last weekend for Easter and we ate all week on the side of our many ham-based leftover dishes. Even though most of the ingredients are canned, it tastes so fresh because you wash the beans before mixing with the dressing and it is served cool. Enjoy with fresh parsley as you please.

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Finished product. How pretty and colorful.

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The recipe as transcribed during a phone conversation with Nana. Can’t read my chicken scratch? 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup cider vinegar, 3/4 cup oil (olive or veg), 2/3 cup chopped onion (purple is prettiest), 1 can cut green beans, 1 can lima beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can yellow beans (I didn’t know those existed either). Wash the beans. Mix them with all the wet ingredients, season with salt and pepper, marinate overnight (for for at least 2 hours). with fresh herbs if you have them.

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Have someone with normal eyeballs chop your onion. This part is important.

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Mix all ingredients and cover, pressing the plastic tight against the salad so that little air touches it, and marinate overnight or for several hours. You are done!

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Our Spring Wreath

Our Spring Wreath

I have been really into DIY wreaths on Pinterest (search it!) and worked up the courage to make my own. I love it! It makes our door happy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

My mom and grandmother visited this weekend and we started prepping for our Easter company next week. Mom is really into Pinterest these days and found a great recipe for homemade chocolate peanut butter cups, so we whipped them together in about 30 minutes and treated ourselves to a little preview of the chocolate-tastic holiday to come. The milk makes the chocolate oh-so-soft, and the sea salt flakes really add to the flavor and make these little guys look elegant.

The finished product.

The finished product.

 

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3/4 cup peanut butter. How cute are my new measuring cups? Thanks, mom.

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Melt the butter, peanut butter, and sugar in the microwave for 45 seconds. Oh yeah, these are healthy.

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Stir the graham cracker dust into the PB mixture until it’s evenly distributed. Pour into muffin tins with liners.

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Cool the PB cups in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the milk & chocolate for 25 seconds. Stir thoroughly to distribute the heat. If necessary micro for another 10 seconds. Pour onto the PB cups and sprinkle with salt. Fridge to harden up.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Magnolia Bakery’s Chocolate Amaretto Bundt Cake

Did you know I decided to NOT give up chocolate for Lent this year, for the first time in 5 years, just so that I could keep eating this? It’s true. I made them last night and dreaded the thought of seeing them on the dining room table every day without the ability to take a bite. They are pretty and delicious. These chocolate amaretto Bundt cakes come from a Magnolia Bakery cook book that I received for Christmas, and while the recipe calls for a 10-inch Bundt pan, I used another Christmas present — 6 mini-Bundts in a pan — to form these beauties. All I have to say is this wasn’t easy. So kudos to you, Magnolia! Oh, and I’m not going to go into details because the recipe belongs to them. And, by the way, I’m giving up chips instead.

Finished product! I used the extra batter to make cupcakes.

Finished product! I used the extra batter to make cupcakes.

The two Christmas gifts that inspired this Valentine's splurge.

The two Christmas gifts that inspired this Valentine’s splurge.

Let's just say it involved a LOT of mixing, alternating wet and dry ingredients, and patience.

Let’s just say it involved a LOT of mixing, alternating wet and dry ingredients, and patience.

The Good Stuff. It gets mixed in after everything else. Don't ask me why. It's just how it is. BTW you should try an Adult Chocolate Milk - amaretto, milk, chocolate syrup, and that's it. Mmm.

The Good Stuff. It gets mixed in after everything else. Don’t ask me why. It’s just how it is. BTW you should try an Adult Chocolate Milk – amaretto, milk, chocolate syrup, and that’s it. Mmm.

I poured a half a cup of batter into each mini-Bundt.

I poured a half a cup of batter into each mini-Bundt.

Then I poured the rest into 6 muffin tins, lined with these cuties.

Then I poured the rest into 6 muffin tins, lined with these cuties.

They baked at 350 for about 40 minutes, and then cooled.

They baked at 350 for about 40 minutes, and then cooled.

Add some powdered sugar.

Add some powdered sugar.

Cut out hearts if you wish.

Cut out hearts if you wish.

Tada! Happy Valentine's Day.

Tada! Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Memory: Auntie’s Birthday Dessert Buffet

Food Memory: Auntie's Birthday Dessert Buffet

Last April we celebrated my auntie’s birthday and my other auntie prepared about a dozen different types of desserts, fro scratch nonetheless. My uncle said that he made the frosting. I just love the way the desserts were all displayed by the huge window, individually placed into paper muffin cups and on tiered plates with flowers and candles. My family knows how to party, and eat.

Food Memory: Bridal Shower Buffet

Food Memory: Bridal Shower Buffet

My mom’s book club is crazy, in a good way (I think), so they threw me a second bridal shower with a delicious buffet and lots of wine. Just look at that braided bread… And the pasta was insane. Later on they “surprised” me at my wedding by putting on habits and singing a certain song from The Sound of Music, but that’s another story.

Food Memory: Dad’s Baked Alaska

Food Memory: Dad's Baked Alaska

One time I decided to make my dad his favorite dessert, Baked Alaska. It was easy! He lit it on fire using rum and what a presentation it makes. This is a great summer party dessert.

Food Memory: Christmas Antipasto

Food Memory: Christmas Antipasto

A humongous antipasto is a Christmas tradition at my parents’ house. This year my husband and I shared chopping duty and had a blast making it look aesthetically pleasing. My mom go these cute flags to make it look fancy.

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

I love giving food as gifts, so for my colleague’s birthday last week, I made these darling little bars and wrapped them up in a french-inspired tin from Maison de Mer in Swampscott, MA (love that place!). This colleague loves dark chocolate, as does my entire office, and everyone enjoyed a cool treat in the middle of a long day at work. This is a win-win!

The finished product, all wrapped up and ready to go...

The finished product, all wrapped up and ready to go…

Crush 12-15 ginger cookies (such as windmill cookies, and you can also throw in some chex or other crunchy substance while you're at it!) and mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter for the crust.

Crush 12-15 ginger cookies (such as windmill cookies, and you can also throw in some Chex or other crunchy substance while you’re at it!) and mix with 2 tablespoons melted butter for the crust.

Line a Pyrex with aluminum foil, spray with baking spray (very important!) and spread the crust along the bottom. You can drizzle some melted chocolate on top of this bad boy.

Line a Pyrex with aluminum foil, spray with baking spray (very important!) and spread the crust along the bottom. You can drizzle some melted chocolate on top of this bad boy.

The next layer is a mixture of room-temp. cream cheese (8 oz.), an egg, a quarter to half-cup of white sugar, and a dash of vanilla.

The next layer is a mixture of room-temp. cream cheese (8 oz.), an egg, a quarter to half-cup of white sugar, and a dash of vanilla.

 

Drizzle more melted chocolate as you see fit (fun part!), and bake it at  350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool in the fridge.

Drizzle more melted chocolate as you see fit (fun part!), and bake it at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool in the fridge.

 

Slice and serve!

Slice and serve!

Stuffed Peppers

Here’s a family favorite that is so easy and inexpensive, I can’t believe I hadn’t made it myself until yesterday. I’m happy I thought of another way to use our ground beef staple, and thinking of this recipe gave me a chance to call my grandmother for the recipe. It could be a great Christmas dish as well, using red and green peppers.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Set the oven to 350. In a bowl, mix a pound of ground beef with a half-cup cooked white rice, salt and pepper, chopped fresh garlic, an egg, and parsley, dried or fresh. Spoon the beef mixture into halved peppers. It will make at least 6 half-peppers.

Set the oven to 350. In a bowl, mix a pound of ground beef with a half-cup cooked white rice, salt and pepper, chopped fresh garlic, an egg, and parsley, dried or fresh. Spoon the beef mixture into halved peppers. It will make at least 6 half-peppers.

Drizzle the beef with marinara sauce and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then at 375 for 15 minutes.

Drizzle the beef with marinara sauce and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve with some parm on top and enjoy this hearty, healthy dinner!

Serve with some parm on top and enjoy this hearty, healthy dinner!