Sunday, December 19, 2010

Prime Pumpkin Pick

My friend Melanie ran a contest on her blog recently. She was looking for some recipe ideas for the upcoming holiday season and decided a great giveaway would be a good idea for encouraging her readers to submit recipes to her inspiration folder. One of the prizes for the random winner was the opportunity for their recipe to be featured on my blog.

I liked the idea because it gave me the chance to cook with Mel in my new kitchen and it was one less recipe I needed to search out and research on my own. Plus, this particular winning recipe was a great way to use up some leftover pumpkin from the last holiday we just had! This recipe was very easy to pull together and everyone loved the results. I split the cake I kept (Mel took the other two for gifts) between my sister and Forrest and they both gave it glaring reviews! Give this one a try, you won't be disappointed. Thanks April!

Yummy Pumpkin Bread
From April T.

We used regular sized loaf pans and made 3 loaves.


3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves;

stir into the pumpkin mixture

until well blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes (we found our cakes were ready at 1 hour and 10 minutes. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

Click Here for the Printable Recipe

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meal Time Mayhem

I fully intended to be the type of pregnant woman that had tons of previously prepared frozen meals stored in the deep freezer prior to delivery so that once baby was here all we had to do was defrost, heat and eat. I had visions of lasagnas, enchiladas, red beans and marinara sauce all perfectly packaged, lined up in the freezer with pretty labels just waiting to assist me in the early hectic days of new parenthood. I have been known to bring meals to my friends and family when they became new parents and I wanted to be ready with the same conveniences for my husband and me.

What I didn't anticipate was how miserable I would be at the end of my pregnancy. Just the thought of standing in my kitchen long enough to open a few boxes of Pasta Roni even wore me out. It was so hot, I was so swollen and the exhaustion was unimaginable. I did zero cooking towards the end and therefore I did zero preparation for what would happen at meal time after our little of bundle joy joined us in this world.

And as it turned out, the lack of frozen meals turned against us. In the early weeks of Rex's life, dinner time was by far his fussiest period of the day. Even though my energy was up, my feet were back to normal and I had the desire to cook again it wasn't exactly easy. It took everything we had for the two of us to calm the baby enough to even be able to have a 2 minute discussion about what we would have for dinner more or less cook an entire meal. To be honest, most nights we ate take out. But on the rare occasion we could pull off home made dinner, it was meals like this that really helped. Quick dishes do exist and if the mom of a 6 week old colicky baby could pull this one off, anyone can! This was delicious and surprisingly gourmet tasting for starting out frozen!

Bacon Pierogi Bake
Adapted from Cooking Light
December 2010

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 pierogies and 2 tablespoons sauce)

  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (such as Mrs. T's)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Arrange the frozen pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. (My cream cheese is almost completely melted in the picture below.)

Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies.

Top evenly with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and

sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Monday, November 29, 2010

Putting on Peanut Pounds

Sometimes I make things that I wouldn't even dream of tasting. My lack of desire isn't triggered off of the fact that the recipes or bad or that I spend so much time on them that I am over it before it is complete. The reason I won't try some of my dishes is that they are made with ingredients I don't like at all. This doesn't happen often, but when it does I have to rely on the reviews of others to know if the recipe is a success. This dish in particular is one that I didn't care to eat, taste or sample. I am not a huge fan of chocolate and I definitely don't eat peanut butter. I made this as a thank you gift for someone who made a wooden awning for my son's nursery. And since the recipe yields two cakes I kept one back for my family to enjoy. And according to them, it was a delicious cake that they were happy to indulge in.

Chocolate Pound Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted from Martha Stewart July 2009


Makes 2 cakes

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 4 sticks softened unsalted butter, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 9 large, room-temperature eggs
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons whole milkHE CAKE spoons w


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla extract.

Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides.

Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated.

Divide batter between pans.

Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack. Make peanut butter glaze: Warm peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk, and stir until smooth.

Drizzle over cooled cakes.

And Serve.
Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Don't forget to enter the NFL Contest for a chance to win some fabulous prizes:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Take it to the House

In football speak, “Taking it to the House” means scoring a long touchdown, but this season, Procter & Gamble, one of NFL’s sponsors, wants to help you take it to the house as part of their Facebook photo contest. Prizes include an at-home visit from a local team legend, a $10,000 community donation in support of NFL PLAY 60 and P&G products.

Check out my Game Day (which includes some awesome football watching recipes!) post at this link:

and follow the instructions to enter on your own!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Garden Grub

I made these delicious babies a few weeks before I had my baby. I have been meaning to blog them for a while but wanted to wait to get a picture of my new garden to share with this recipe. What does my garden have to do with these quesadillas you ask? Well two things, I made these the night we met with our landscape architect to plan out our landscaping for the front of our house. And the second is that when I found out how pricey landscaping is I instantly wanted to just fill the garden bed up with herbs for recipes like this one and call it a day. As you can see below, we didn't go that route and now that it is all planted and done with I am glad we made the investment - I think it really finishes off the front of our new home and gives it that polished look.

Prosciutto & Black Pepper Quesadillas with Rosemary Oil
Adapted from Bobby Flay



  • 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced

Rosemary Oil:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the rosemary oil: Combine the oil, rosemary, chives and salt and pepper in a food processor

and process until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer

and store the green goodness in the refrigerator.

Quesadilla: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Saute the red onions in a tsp of olive oil until softened about 8 minutes.

Place 8 tortillas on an ungreased baking sheet or non stick silicone baking pad. Spread half the cheese, onion and black pepper on each and season to taste with salt.

Top with 3 thin slivers of prosciutto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with remaining tortillas and brush the tops with olive oil

and sprinkle with some more of the Parmesan cheese.

Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet or a non-stick silicone baking pad and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until the tortillas are lightly golden brown and the cheese has melted. Cut into quarters, top each quarter with a slice of prosciutto and drizzle with the rosemary oil.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comfort Chicken

This recipe is comfort food at its finest. It reminds me of something my Mom or Grannie would have cooked for us growing up, but they would have served it over angle hair instead. This meal was delicious, satisfying and flavorful. And the leftovers were to die for - I ate them for an entire week and I normally don't do leftovers.

Braised Chicken Thighs and Button Mushrooms
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe in link above
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups dark chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 pound of bowtie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Set a 10-inch, straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken thighs with the Essence, salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down in the pan and sear until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter and mushrooms.

Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan

and cook, stirring often to make a light brown roux, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stock to the pan and stir.

Add the rosemary to the pan,

bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the chicken over pasta and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He's Here !

Forrest and I had our first born on October 11, 2010. He weighed 9lbs 9 ounces (can you tell his momma liked to indulge in yummy food while "baking" him?) and was 22 1/4 inches long. We are completely smitten and we can't wait to get him home to start cooking up all of our new adventures that are ahead of us as a family of three!

Meet Rex Paul Foti:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ne Ne Nursery

I made this Bananas Foster Bread as a thank you for my wonderful Mom for helping get our soon-to-be son's nursery ready. I have expressed this sentiment before on this blog, but it is worth mentioning again - my Mom is a superwoman. She can do anything, will attempt any job and is more than willing to help in any endeavor. I found a picture on the Internet of a baby nursery I wanted to use as my inspiration, but didn't have the slightest idea of where to start or how to accomplish all of the unique touches I had fallen in love with. I showed my mom the picture, asked her if she would help and if she had any ideas of how to start - of course she did.

The first step was achieving the tree mural that would take up most of the 10 foot wall behind the crib. I told her I found a stick and peel wall decal on the Internet, but she said we could do it ourselves. She started with a free hand drawing of the tree in question, transferred it to a transparency, projected it onto the wall and made a life size stencil. Then I cut it out - that was the extent of my contribution. She then spent a few hours of one of her days off painting the tree using the stencil she had made. And that was just the start of it.

Next up was the fact that I didn't want off the shelf curtains or a bed skirt, so she spent another entire Saturday sewing and hanging curtains, figuring out how to make a crib skirt and whipping that out like a professional. I told you she was amazing! On another Saturday I showed up at her house with some new fabric I wanted to add to the room. As she saw me walk up the stairs to her front door she immediately guessed I had another project in mind for her. That particular day she worked her way through sewing throw pillows and recovering an existing lamp shade in said fabric. The shade and one of the pillows can be seen below, and I told you she could take on any project in spite of lack of experience.

Her last and final project occurred this past Saturday when she spent the day helping me hang these giant flash cards behind the changing table. I wanted them there, I purchased them and the ribbon and then I didn't have a shred of confidence that I could get them hung neatly. Of course she had some really genius idea of how we could do it and she whipped it out in no time at all while we baby sat two of her grandsons.

Some of the other personal touches in the nursery that I love so much are the baby outfits we hung on the wall. No my Mom didn't make these, but they were worn by my two oldest nephews when they were infants. Since my nephews are only six years old now these could hardly be considered heirlooms, but being that they were both New Orleans babies born before Katrina it is miracle that we still have anything from their early life. Since the hurricane hit before they were both one, I spent different portions of the rebuilding process living with each one of them at different times and because of it I have a very special relationship with them and can remember watching them grow each day into little boys. I love having something from each of them in my son's nursery. He will be lucky to have such great older cousins as role models throughout his life.

There is one item though that could be considered an heirloom that made it into the nursery. The white toddler rocking chair below belonged to my husband and was given to him by his Aunt when he was a baby. It used to be brown with a heavily used cotton cover on it that needed some attention. Way before we moved in our house and started this nursery, Forrest began to restore the chair and repaint it a color that would match our decor. He spent several of his Saturdays in his parents garage prepping his chair to pass on this his first born. It is very special to have something of his in the nursery and it has proven to be a very popular piece with my younger nieces and nephews when they have come to visit. Therefore, I have no doubt our son will appreciate it as well.
My mom also crosstiched the alphabet blanket hanging over the crib. She was such a big part of this nursery and she made it all possible. I couldn't have gotten even a quarter of it done without her help. Making this extremely easy bread doesn't even scratch the surface of thank you's that I owe her, but it was a sweet start. I told her recently in a thank you note that if I am half the mom to my son as she has been to me he will be one lucky boy! Here is to my extremely creative, willing and selfless Mom!

Nursery Inspired by Holly Mathis Interiors

Bananas Foster Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2010

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, divided
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine banana, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 5 tablespoons butter, and 3 tablespoons rum in a nonstick skillet.

Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble.

Remove from heat; cool. Place yogurt, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and eggs in a large bowl

and mix until combined. Add the cooled banana mixture and beat with a mixer at medium speed.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.

4. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter, remaining 1 tablespoon rum, and powdered sugar; stir until well blended. Drizzle over the warm bread.

5. Slice and Serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe