Sunday, March 31, 2013

Magic Lemon Meringue Pie

If you've figured anything out about me, I don't bake. My mother doesn't bake, my sister doesn't bake, and I don't bake. So now that I'm a big, bad holiday hostess, this poses a bit of a problem. My sister and I decided that maybe we should try our hand at baking this year, and so we dared to go the meringue route. 

This is a true Easter dessert, was one of Nanny McPhee's favorites, and so I wanted to bring it into my Easter tradition. The pie itself didn't scare me (until we started making it), it was the meringue that was giving me anxiety... but somehow I made it happen. 

Of course, I got it on the second try - I have this problem that I don't always read a recipe and so I dumped the eggs, cream of tartar AND sugar all into the bowl and mixed feverishly, to no avail. It never peaked. Read the directions and realized, the sugar comes second. Eureeka! It worked. We had peaks. And we had a delicious little meringue. (dancing around the kitchen not necessary, but highly recommended). 

The Recipe

Original recipe courtesy of: Trisha Yearwood

For the filling...
   One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
   1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (appx 2 large lemons)
   1 tsp lemon zest
   3 large egg yolks (whites reserved for meringue)

For the meringue...
   3 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
   1/4 tsp cream of tartar
   1/4 cup sugar

Make your own crust, use a pre-made 9" graham cracker pie crust, or 6 adorable individual mini graham cracker crusts (like I did)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and place metal bowl and beaters in freezer to chill (tips I got from my mother and from Stan)
  2. Make the filling: in a medium bowl, mix the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Pour mixture into crust, and bake for 10-12 minutes until the filling is just set (it can still be wobbly in the center when shaken) - Chill for 2+ hours
  3. Make the meringue: beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer in chilled metal bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff. Transfer meringue into a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off, and pipe onto pies. Set broiler to medium-high, and brown tops of meringue. 

Candied Bacon

Make this. 

Sweet, salty, bacon-y goodness. 

That is all.

The Recipe
Recipe courtesy of : Aarti Sequeira

10 strips thick-cut bacon
About 1/4 cup brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lay strips of bacon on a cookie sheet that is covered in aluminum foil. Bake for 6-8 minutes. (Aarti suggests putting a cooling rack on the cookie sheet and laying bacon onto that. Judging by the amount of grease that was left on the cookie sheet after cook-time, I would say that is probably a great idea to crisp up the bacon)
  3. Sprinkle each strip with brown sugar, and bake another 6-8 minutes, until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Make sure they don't burn - there is a fine line. 
  4. After cook time, let the bacon stand to solidify a bit. 

Anytime Potatoes (Hash brown casserole)

When I made the decision to do "Brinner" for Easter, my family and I sat around in my parents' living room discussing my ideas on what I planned to have. We chatted about a variety of options and then I was informed that I would be making this hash brown casserole. Apparently, everyone in the royal family had already tasted the amazingness of this dish, and so there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. When my mother handed me the little piece of paper with the recipe on it, I 100% agreed. 

Now that I've made it, and eaten it, and enjoyed it, I am sold that these truly are "anytime" potatoes. 

The Recipe
Recipe courtesy of: my mother

40 oz frozen shredded hash browns
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 (10 3/4 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. In a 13x9 baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray) combine hash browns, onion, cheese, salt and pepper. 
  3. In a small saucepan, heat soup and butter together until butter melts. Pour over potato mixture and mix well. 
  4. Bake on top oven rack for one hour.

Brunch Stuffed Peppers

These sound a little weird from the get-go, but they are worth it. Essentially, it's like a little quiche inside a pepper. They're colorful, and delicious, but actually pretty filling. If you don't like peppers, they're probably not for you, but other than those weirdos in my family, I think this was a crowd pleaser. 

The Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

4 yellow bell peppers (I doubled the recipe, and used 4 orange bell peppers too)
1 cup frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
1/2 (16-oz) package bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used sweet Italian sausage instead of bacon)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend (I might suggest a little more cheese)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup biscuit mix (I used heart-healthy Bisquick)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbl chopped green onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Remove the top 1/2-inch of each pepper and discard the tops/seeds. Arrange the peppers, cut side up in an 8x8 baking dish. (If the peppers don't stand up, you can slice a little off the bottom to make it flat- but make sure not to puncture the pepper at the bottom or the filling won't stay in! --yes I made this mistake...) Fill the bottom of each pepper evenly with hash browns and meat. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, milk, Bisquick, sour cream, green onion, salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Pour mixture evenly into peppers and bake appx 1 hour. (Recipe says 45 minutes but it's not long enough for a toothpick to come out clean).

Baked French Toast with homemade Raspberry Syrup

This french toast is a slam dunk. Super easy, made casserole style. Huge hit with the fam. The original recipe is a Paula Deen recipe that I came across on TFN. I love looking at recipes online because I can read reviews and learn from the success/failure of others. Luckily this had a ton of reviews, and so I was able to make some alterations and I was really thankful for the feedback because the few changes I made, made this french toast come out just right. 

Paula also suggests a sticky-sweet praline topping (info for that can be found by following the link below, y'all). I chose to go a different route and make a homemade raspberry syrup, and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream. 
The Recipe
Original recipe courtesy of: Paula Deen

1 loaf Challah bread (original recipe calls for 1-2 loaf French bread)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk (I used whole milk because I needed it for other recipes, but reviews suggested low-fat)
2 Tbl sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I used this amount, but recommend using more)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Dash of salt


  1. On the day before you are eating the casserole Combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl, and beat/whisk until blended but not too bubbly.
  2. Slice/chunk bread into slices that are 1" inch thick. 
  3. Dip bread into egg mixture, and arrange in a 9x13 baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray) in two rows, overlapping as necessary. Fill in spaces between bread with egg mixture and spoon some over slices. *Be careful with how much you use, I highly suggest that you don't use all of the egg mixture - if you do, your french toast will come out soggy. I used most of it, but did discard a decent amount.
  4. Cover with foil, and refrigerate overnight. If possible, some suggestions said to flip the bread at some point. (I didn't and it was ok)
  5. The next day (the day you are eating the casserole) Preheat oven to 350.
  6. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. Place your baking dish on a cookie sheet to prevent a mess in your oven if it cooks over. 
  7. The top layer should be lightly golden and crispy, the bottom layer will be a little softer. Serve with maple syrup, or homemade raspberry syrup, berries, and whipped cream. 
*BONUS* Homemade Raspberry Syrup: Combine 1 cup raspberry preserves, 3 Tbl water, and 2 Tbl raspberry liquor (I used Chambord) - heat in small saucepan over low heat until preserves melt down. Cook on low for appx 5-10 minutes to reduce. 

Laugh much, cook often, and always wear stilettos
xoXO ~ Coleen

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corned Beef & Cabbage

The Recipe
Recipe courtesy of:  Kathleen McPhee
(and I use the word "recipe" pretty loosely here)
Corned beef
10 pounds of potatoes (10 lbs?! Ok, slight exaggeration)
Few heads of cabbage
You will also need: humungo boiling pot, a lot 'o water, and probably a Guinness to sip on whilst cooking

Boil all ingredients together for appx 3 hours.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Make your own | Pizza Pie!

So I am 100% a pizza lover. That's amore, right there. Pizza, however, does not love me... well not my waistline anyways. (and no, don't judge me on the fact that I had Pepe's yesterday...) And while I love most pizza places equally, there are a few pizza pies that make me drool and that the thought of them alone makes my tastebuds pop. Before I go into the tasty (and relatively healthy) pizzas that tt and I make at home, let's countdown my 5 most favorite pizzas of all time:

5. Joey Garlic's, Newington, CT | BROCCOLI RABE AND SAUSAGE
This is a white pizza with mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sausage, garlic, romano, hot cherry peppers and EVOO and it is worth every glorious calorie. Most of the time, tt and I will order the Gary & Mary's Garden pizza which is loaded up with amazing veggies. But when we want to splurge a little, we go for the broccoli rabe and sausage. It is seriously out of this world

4. Madison's, Albany, NY | CHICKEN PARM
So, my GF and I used to frequent Madison's back when I still lived in NY (cleverly named, since it is located on Madison Ave in Albany). As I was thinking about my top 5 favorite pizzas, and believe me, I could come up with a top 10 list... I realized that the chicken parm pizza from this place just HAD to be on the list. It has certainly been a little while (try like 10 years..) I remember this pizza to be the perfect amount of cheese, sauce and chicken, dolloped with ricotta cheese, and finished with just the right amount of grease

3. Sally's, New Haven, CT | WHITE POTATO
Picture this: sliced up potato, onion, imported Parmesan  and rosemary - this is how Sally's Apizza does it, and this answers any question I may have had about which New Haven pizza place is the best... {And may Flora 'Flo' Consiglio, who recently passed away, RIP}

2. Mistral, Boston, MA | BEEF TENDERLOIN
And if you want your mind to be even more blown, let's construct the potato pizza at Mistral. Beef tenderloin. Mashed Potatoes. White Truffle Oil. Hoooooly Hannah. If you know me, you know I love potatoes... particularly, mashed potatoes. And Mistral does it in the most delectable, and classy way. This is also, BTdubbs, my most favoritest restaurant on earth 

1. Murphy & Scarletti's, formerly located in Farmington, CT | BUFFALO CHICKEN 
This pizza would knock your socks off.... if you could still get it. The bar closed last year... worst day of my life. It will forever be ingrained in my memory as THE best pizza of all time. Pizza + buffalo chicken + chunks of ooey gooey melty blue cheese. While it was a great drunken treat (we used to frequent Murphys on Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday nights for vodka red bulls/beers, pool and pizza...and selfies in the bathroom) - the pizza was enough that this historic bar should have stayed in business, but alas, I will forever be in search of a buffalo chicken pizza that even remotely lives up to this one. 

And on that note... I bring you, my healthy make your own pizza.. lame.

recipe courtesy of: yours truly

Whole Wheat crust (Boboli works, I use the Stop & Shop brand individual crusts, or 1 large)
Drizzle EVOO
Pizza sauce (again, I use S&S brand- love it, and not too much junk in it)
Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese - mozzarella or Italian blend
Veggies: peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc - sky is the limit, I usually season with Italian seasonings
Meat: anything works, but if you are keeping it healthy, Italian seasoned turkey actually is quite like sausage, and you can obv get turkey pepperoni. 

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Meanwhile, brown any meat you are using (besides pepperoni), and cook veggies until soft.
  3. Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil (shiny side down!) and then place 1 large crust or 2 individual crusts on sheet. Brush crusts with olive oil and spoon sauce onto them, and top with a handful of shredded cheese.
  4. Once meat/veggies are cooked, add to the top of pizzas.
  5. When oven is preheated, reduce heat to 400, and put pizzas in.
  6. Cook pizzas according to package instructions, probably somewhere in the 10 minute range. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe

The Recipe
Recipe Courtesy of ~ Nola Cuisine
1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black) Pitted
1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Pepperoncini)
1 Tbsp. Capers
3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Roasted red peppers
1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste (salt may not be necessary)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 1 – 1 1/2 Cups

  1. Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. 
  2. Cover with: Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  3. Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for about one week.