Cooking Class at Sur la Table

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending my first Sur la table cooking class. I have taken cooking classes at Elegant Eating, a local catering company, but never at Sur la table. Two ladies, Sharon & Laurie, from an online cooking group met me there and we had an absolute blast! On the menu was pickle brined pork chops, black eyed pea and broccoli slaw (I thought I was going to hate this, but did just the opposite), and a pear crostata.

Since this was a mid week day time class, there was only 5 of us students that attended. This allowed for a good hands on experience, with the ability to ask lots of questions and take our time. Our specific group of three took turns with dicing pears, grating broccoli, mincing red onions (after being shown knife skills), rolling out dough, and more! Once we finished preparing both lunch and dessert, they finished cooking in the oven while us ladies got to shop around. Sur la table gives students 10% off in addition to any sales going on - I picked up some awesome stuff that I am excited to post about!

As we were leaving the store, I decided to sign up for another class next month. Wait until you hear what kind of class it is... I highly recommend giving one of there classes a try! If you've already been to one, what did you make? Let me know in the comments!


Mexican Sloppy Joe Sliders

For these Mexican style sloppy joes, I took my go to taco meat recipe and added some ingredients to make them "sloppy." Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

What you will need:
1 lb chopped meat
1/4 cup corn salsa
1 tbs sriracha sauce
1/4 cup shredded cheddar, plus extra for topping
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup beef broth
Salt & pepper, to taste
Slider buns

1. In a medium sauté pan, brown the meat on medium high heat. Once browned, drain with paper towel on plate. Lower heat to medium, and return meat to pan.

2. Mix in corn salsa, sriracha, cheese, chili sauce, salt and pepper and heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add broth and simmer on lower heat for ~5 minutes until broth is reduced to the consistency you like.

4. Serve sloppy joe mixture on slider buns and top with cheese.

 My husband experimented with a plantain bun with the leftover sloppy joe meat!


Cookbook Collections | Thursday Trials - Chicken Marsala

Before I begin, how awesome are these plates? My husband and I love to dip, so when I saw these plates had a little dipping section, I had to get them.
Anyway, here we go... this recipe is not from a cookbook, but from an online food blogger (Vikalinka) based in London. It is one of my favorite chicken marsala recipes, so I had to share it! Every time I make this dish, it comes out exactly the same... pure deliciousness! Try it out for yourself, and let me know what you thought!

Chicken Marsala
Vikalinka | Chicken Marsala

Here are some photos as I was making dinner. I used baby bella mushrooms that I had on hand, and dried parsley this time, as I didn't have fresh. It was still just as tasty as every other time I've made this recipe!


Raclette Dinner Party

What is a raclette grill? It is a grill, popular in Switzerland and Germany, that allows you to melt cheeses of your choice in a pan, and then scrape the cheese on to your food. Raclette is also a type of cheese, that has a really perfect melting point. Throwing a raclette party is a great way to have everyone be apart of making dinner. It is fun and unique way to bring friends together. I invited three of my girlfriends over for this dinner party. Being I work full time, and have a newborn, time is hard to find. I was able to roast everything ahead of time, which really helped prepare for a party like this.

I started by roasting vegetables - potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus. I drizzled olive oil on the veggies, and seasoned with salt and pepper before roasting them in the oven (1 hour for potatoes, 40 minutes for broccoli and 15 minutes for asparagus - all on 375 degrees). Next I fried up some bacon, and onion strings. Sauteing mushrooms is also a great side for raclette! Next, my husband Kevin, barbecued sliders outside on the big grill. This saves time and the house from smelling like smokey burgers. All of the food at this point was technically finished, just before our friends arrived.

Keeping the raclette grill on low will allow you to place your food on top to keep it warm. While the food warms up on the grill, our guests placed the cheeses they wanted into their pans, and began to melt them under the stone of the grill. Once the cheese begins to bubble, you can use your scraper to pour the cheese onto your burger and veggies. 

I have done raclette with many different cheeses, but was happy that this time my local cheese shop had actual raclette cheese. It was so delicious! Our friends always ask, "when is the next one going to be?!"


Grater Plate from I See Spain

*Check out my review video below!*
Who loves garlic?! My husband does. I would be lying if I said I didn't love it too. For the past three years, my hubby has been begging me to attend this local garlic festival in Riverhead NY. The weather was beautiful, I knew the food would be awesome, so I said let's go! Newborn, toddler and all (got to try our double stroller out for the first time)! Wasn't really too sure what to expect at this garlic festival, but when I saw "garlic ice cream," I knew they had it all. We first stopped by All American Wontons, which was awesome! Garlic bacon chicken wontons? Yes please!

Next, a demonstrator grabbed our attention (along with tons of other people). The stand was called I See Spain, and the man was demonstrating the garlic grater plate. I have never seen anything like it to be honest, and the hand painted plates were simply stunning. I watched the gentleman grate nutmeg, ginger, garlic cloves... I was hooked. I decided to buy one and try it out at home tonight while making homemade pizza. I posted my very amateur video below, to show you how my first time went. If you are interested, you can find the plate under "PREP TOOLS." I look forward to using it more and for other things as well!

Dinner on the bay

Could not miss blogging this incredible experience at my mom's house! My mom, Nancy, is a rock star. She is recently 1 year cancer free from breast cancer, and continues to live her life to the fullest. When we were invited over for dinner, with their friends Dick and Jane, we couldn't deny! Dinner at my mom's house is always so delicious, and so beautiful as they live on the water on Long Island. While I was helping Nancy prep for our guests, I quickly realized it was too beautiful outside to not eat out there. My husband, Kevin, quickly moved a table on to the bluff, and I set the table for us all.

On the menu was gazpacho to start, then filet mignon and scallops in a champagne butter sauce, along with roasted rosemary potatoes and roasted broccoli. To eat with such fabulous people, looking out into the gorgeous bay was such a happy time for this new mom. It felt like a mini vacation! Oh and YAY for wine - finally!!!

The bun is done!

I have been MIA for a bit on here, but have been keeping up with my facebook page in case you don't follow me on there. For the last month, I am now a mom of two which has been quite a change! I had another rough pregnancy with morning sickness, being unable to eat much, and complications of sorts. I went into labor unexpectedly, and delivered my little bun in the oven six weeks early. I had to deliver at a special hospital that had a NICU, where my son was expected to stay for two weeks. Because the NICU was so overcrowded, we were sent home after 8 days. It was the hardest 8 days of my life, as no parent should have to leave their brand new baby. We made it through though and baby Everett, born August 2nd at 5 lbs 9 oz, has been thriving and doing great. I miss my sleep, but I know this time will be missed one day.
No automatic alt text available.

As soon as Everett was born, and came home with us, I went back into the kitchen at full force. With two littles around, and one that eats a ton, I had to start meal planning for the week. We have a grocery store nearby that delivers, and that has been a true life saver! So each night I arrive home from work, get started on our planned meal, and we enjoy dinner as a family. My daughter, Kora, will eat whatever we eat and has yet to come across something she doesn't like! Anything from fish, to beef, to veggies - she does it all!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and baby

I look forward to continuing my blogging journey with you all, and hope to inspire new ideas and recipes along the way.


Meatball Party

As most husbands do, Kevin told me 1-2 days before his big work Christmas party that I needed to make something. Don't get me wrong, I love making food for his parties... but I love taking the time to perfect what I am going to make, instead of whipping something up last minute. I am definitely a planner!

I wanted to stray from the staple dishes I usually make: penne alla vodka, homemade mac and cheese, feta walnut salad, buffalo chicken dip, etc. A couple of Christmas' back, my mother in law bought us the coolest 3 pot crockpot in red (oh she knows me so well)! I absolutely lushed over this crockpot, and knew I wanted to use it for Kevin's party as it will keep the food warm. But what could I make in the 3 different pots?


One thing is for sure, my hoisin sesame meatballs were a must. We love the hoisin teriyaki flavor with the meatballs, as we love most things with Asian flavors. Next, I think mozzarella stuffed meatballs is always something a bit unique and goes really well with a good, hearty marinara sauce. The last meatball, my husband asked to pick out. He makes a darn good swedish meatball, but he forgot to buy the Heinz chili sauce to mix with the grape jelly! Since it was pretty late, we decided to find something we already had. Thai chili sauce... it's so delicious with shrimp, and we decided to test out a meatball in the same sauce. Kevin mixes the store bought thai chili sauce with sriracha to give it a little more kick. We loved it!

I love the idea of meatball parties, for adults and kids alike. Using the same base meat mixture makes it really simple to make a lot of meatballs in batches, and just add different sauces to them after. The possibility of flavors is endless, and next time we look forward to trying BBQ sauce meatballs with pineapple chunks mixed in, Sweet and sour meatballs, cheeseburger meatballs and a lot more! Pinterest always has a great array of ideas to check out.


Grandma's Spritz Cookies

It's the best time of the year! To me, Christmas means spritz cookies. Okay, of course it means a lot
more than cookies, but this blog is about food and that is what I am here to talk about! :) I make these spritz cookies for all of our neighbors, filling up tin after tin. Sometimes if I am brave, I bring them to work, just to watch them get scoffed up within minutes! Then I get yelled at because we’re always dieting, aren’t we?

One of the most special things about my grandma, is having her recipe cards passed down. She has made this recipe more than a thousand times probably! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. You will need a cookie press for these, and after lots of trial and error... I recommend the kitchenaid cookie press! It works fabulously.

Makes about 70-75 cookies

3 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter (2 sticks)
1 unbeaten egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, cream cheese - blend well.

3. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Slowly add flour, salt and cinnamon - beat well.

4. Using the cookie press, fill up each cookie sheet, decorate with sprinkles if you choose, and bake for 15 minutes. 

5. Try not to eat more than five at a time. 


A Texas Thanksgiving

Last month I started a second job at an olive oil & vinegar shop. All of the oils and vinegar are infused with different flavors, my favorite being the raspberry balsamic. It is a store that I've always loved, and after becoming friendly with the owner, she asked me to fill in for someone on maternity leave. My customers are all fellow foodies and cooks, and we always have lots to talk about. Being that I can't take off any days yet, my only available week to take a vacation was the week of Thanksgiving. We chose Dallas, TX because I have an aunt, uncle and two cousins that live there. If you remember, when my family moved there, Kevin and I drove their car and dog (Penny) all the way from Long Island to Dallas. It was 27 long hours, but I would do it again!

Look at this beautiful table! Love how the round table allowed us to see and speak to everyone.

My uncle Dirk was a chef and we were all really excited for Thanksgiving dinner. Uncle Dirk and aunt Kelly decided to brine the turkey overnight, and the side dishes were out of this world! I have never seen my daughter, Kora, eat so much in one sitting - ever!

To start, we served butternut squash soup over arugula. Although arugula has a bitter taste that not everyone loves, including myself, the sweetness from the butternut squash was a perfect balance together. Pine nuts for a crunchy texture was a great touch too.

Above we have a sweet corn casserole (no added sugar), this is a favorite to everyone! Stuffing, the moist turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, delicata squash (not pictured), green beans with almond slices, and my absolute favorite side dish (this was my first time having it) creamy pearled onions. WOW, the best onions I have ever tasted and I cannot wait to make them at home. So thankful for being shown the creamy pearled onion recipe from my uncle.

After dinner, we indulged in three homemade pies that we baked the day before: apple, pecan and pumpkin. There was nothing short of excellence when it came to this Thanksgiving dinner. We hope you all had a great holiday with your family and friends too!

Before leaving Dallas, we were served a beautiful farewell lunch from our family. Hanger steak, which is a flavorful cut from the diaphragm area, marinated and BBQ'd medium rare. Served over salad with crispy shallots, truffle cheese and a truffle vinaigrette. I opted out on the tomatoes, of course!
It goes without saying, that we cannot wait to visit again, see our family, and eat like we are in foodie heaven! Texas has quickly become one of our favorite vacation spots, and maybe even one we will be living there!


Infused Olive Oil & Vinegars

Recently, I took a second job at an olive oil and vinegar shop. The oils and vinegars are infused with different flavors, and the store is set up as a tasting room. Customers come in, filling small tasting cups with infused flavors that intrigue their taste buds, and dip a piece of fresh cut bread into the oils and vinegars to taste. Flavors range from spicy, to sweet, to earthy - about 50 of them! My top three favorite flavors are the garlic infused olive oil, raspberry balsamic and black truffle oil. Talk about a dream job, guys!

I've tried about 95% of the infused oils and vinegars so far, with the exception of dark chocolate, espresso and a couple of others. I will get around to trying them eventually but I am not a fan of real dark chocolate at all, so I am a bit hesitant! A lot of people do like the dark chocolate balsamic, and peach and fig are amongst other popular flavors. 

In addition to the oils and vinegars, we sell pastas, pickles, jellies and jams, local honey, stuffed olives, shampoo & conditioners, and much more!

My love for this job stems from my love of cooking and pairing flavors. I can't tell you how many times I've brought an undressed salad with me to work, just to experiment with mixing the oil and balsamic together (basil olive oil with black cherry balsamic was dynamite)! I have used the garlic oil for sautéing my veggies quick, raspberry balsamic on bruschetta or the truffle oils in my risotto/mashed potatoes/mac and cheese. Just the other day, I drizzled my Mexican mac n cheese with the chipotle oil, and it added the perfect kick!  When customers come in and discuss how they used the Tahitian Vanilla on brussels sporuts, it inspires me to try different things. 

Do you have this type of store near you? If so, it is a must try! Feel free to comment below and tell me what your favorite infused flavor is. What do you use it in?

Annmarie's Reese's Peanut Butter Cake

When it comes to my coworker, Annmarie, she is arguably one of the biggest peanut butter lovers of all time! Since Ann's 51st birthday was coming up, I decided to plan a few weeks ahead and make the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cake. I came across this one from I say Nomato and decided to use it as decoration inspiration! I am not into baking, as much as I used to be.. so I took the easy route and used a chocolate cake mix from Betty Crocker. See below on how I made this cake, and I promise if you try making it too, you won't be sorry!

What I did:
For the cake, I used Betty Crocker's Chocolate cake mix and baked according to box. I used two 8" cake pans, and let them cool for about 45 minutes (in the pan). Once cooled, I flipped over one pan onto my cake stand (bottom facing up). * see note - The other pan, i flipped onto a plate, then flipped it back over onto the other cake (this is so that both bottoms of the cakes are touching each other which gives it the best shape for icing). * Don't forget to ice between the cakes!

For the Icing: Grandma's cream cheese frosting recipe and added 2 heaping tbs of creamy peanut butter (I use the peter pan brand). Once the icing is mixed, I followed advice from the original inspiration cake, and iced a very thin layer onto the cake and placed the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once removed from the freezer, the cake was much easier to ice, without clumps and crumbs flaking off.
Once the cake was fully and smoothly iced with the peanut butter frosting, I used about 1/3 cup of reese's pieces and decorated the bottom rim of the cake, with a few scattered on the sides.

Next is the Chocolate Peanut butter ganache: Recipe here from Fearless Fresh. I had tons leftover so halving the recipe would probably be helpful. It is important to pour the ganache on the cake as soon as possible, because it starts to thicken rather quickly. Again following the advice from I say Nomato, I poured some of the ganache on the center top of the cake, and used a spoon to "spread" it to the edges, giving the drip look.
Finally, I topped the cake with about a cup of chopped mini Reese's peanut butter cups (some cut into halves, and some into quarters).

My coworkers mouths were watering from the moment I uncovered this cake. There was moaning, and "oohs" and "ahhs" with overwhelming compliments on taste. Wishing Annmarie a happy birthday and a wonderful year ahead! Looking forward to making another cake next year!