Get your party hats out and your zany glasses on—it’s time to count down to 2015!!

 Appetizers, Easy Recipes, Entertaining Ideas And Tips, Holiday/Entertaining  Comments Off on Get your party hats out and your zany glasses on—it’s time to count down to 2015!!
Dec 302014


 The cocktails are chilled, you bought a great outfit, Why cook?  Have a Happy New Year Appetizer Party!


Get your party hats out and your zany glasses on—it’s time to count down to 2015!!

Appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, little plates, whatever you’d like to call them are the standard party fare for the last night of 2015. Nobody is going to blame you if your New Year’s Eve party spread includes a bowl of mixed nuts, some grapes and a wedge or two of cheese. After all, most people enjoy them and are willing to nibble mindlessly on them. As long as you remember the Champagne!


But it is easier than you think to elevate your feast and those tired party snack clichés with a few more creative offerings. You can try treats that require some time to prepare, however, if you don’t have the time or energy, other party snacks can be assembled in less than 10 minutes. The only truly important rule is to make sure everything is neat, easy to eat and of course beautiful. After all we do eat with our eyes too…so make it pretty!

Here are a few tasty nibbles to get you started!


Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms




Click here to try these delicious Stuffed Sausage Mushrooms


Pumpkin-Shrimp Bruschetta


How can you resist this pretty appetizer…click here

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas


These will be gone in a flash…click here for the recipe

Cucumber & Feta Bites


Zesty yet refreshing…click here for the recipe

No matter if your New Year’s Eve plans include an all-night bash or a casual evening in front of the television, ring in 2015 with eats and drinks worthy of the celebration!


Happy New Year!




Dec 302014
Cucumber & Feta Bites
Recipe Type: Appetizer
[url href=”×193.jpg”][img src=”×193.jpg” width=”300″ height=”193″ class=”alignnone size-medium” title=”b4″][/url]
  • 2 cucumbers (about 1 pound each)
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley or dill, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Cut the cumbers lengthwise, and remove the seeds, then cut a small strip off the bottom of one side so that the cucumber half will set level, without falling over.
  2. Use the other half of the cucumber and dice into 1/4 inch pieces.
  3. Combine the diced cucumbers with feta cheese, dill, salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the mixture between the 2 cucumber “boats”, then slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces.


Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas

 Appetizers, Holiday Leftovers, Holiday/Entertaining  Comments Off on Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas
Dec 302014
Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas
Recipe Type: Appetizer
[url href=”×300.jpg”][img src=”×300.jpg” width=”200″ height=”300″ class=”alignnone size-medium” title=”b3″][/url]
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs (about 4)
  • 16 ounces Beer (or chicken broth)
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
  • 3 cups Baby Spinach, chopped
  • 5 burrito-size Flour Tortillas (9 inches)
  • 6 ounces Queso Quesadilla or other melting cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil, or cooking spray
  • Salsa, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 450*F.
  2. Put the chicken thighs in a deep sided saute pan and cover with the beer and water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred it.
  5. Mix together the chicken and seasonings.
  6. Pour out all but ¼ cup of the cooking liquid.
  7. Add the jalapeno and spinach and cook over low heat until for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.
  8. Cut the tortillas in half.
  9. Spoon 1/10th of the chicken (about 1 tablespoon) along the long edge of a tortilla.
  10. Repeat with the spinach and cheese.
  11. Roll the tortilla up, starting with the straight edge.
  12. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet.
  13. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  14. Brush the flautas with olive oil or spray with cooking spray.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for until 10 minutes, or until crispy.
  16. Serve with salsa.


Dec 302014
Pumpkin-Shrimp Bruschetta
Recipe Type: Appetizer
[url href=”×300.jpg”][img src=”×300.jpg” width=”300″ height=”300″ class=”alignnone size-medium” title=”b2″][/url]
  • 20 fresh or frozen jumbo shrimp in shells
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature (2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds*
  • 1/4 cup bottled Italian vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 20 3/4-inch-thick slices baguette-style French bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional)
  1. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact.
  2. Rinse shrimp.
  3. In a large skillet, cook shrimp in a large amount of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
  4. Drain well.
  5. Preheat broiler.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, goat cheese, lemon juice, and honey; set aside.
  7. In a large bowl, combine shrimp, arugula, onion, pumpkin seeds, and salad dressing; set aside.
  8. Brush both sides of baguette slices lightly with olive oil.
  9. Arrange on a large baking sheet.
  10. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat about 2 minutes or until toasted, turning bread over once.
  11. Spread pumpkin mixture on one side of toasted baguette slices.
  12. Top each with a shrimp and some of the arugula mixture.
  13. If desired, top each with shaved Parmesan cheese.
  14. Makes 20 appetizers


Dec 302014
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Recipe Type: Appetizer
[url href=”×199.jpg”][img src=”×199.jpg” width=”300″ height=”199″ class=”alignnone size-medium” title=”b1″][/url]
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages white button mushrooms, cap size doesn’t really matter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted, quite optional!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  2. Separate caps and stems while cleaning the mushrooms.
  3. If cleaning with water, let them drain for a bit.
  4. Start cooking the sausage in frying pan, at a medium to medium/high temperature.
  5. While the sausage is cooking, put the cream cheese into a mixing bowl so it can soften and mince the stem pieces.
  6. Spice the sausage to taste. Garlic is a good addition.
  7. Just before the sausage is done, add the stem pieces and finish cooking.
  8. Drain off the excess grease and add the sausage/stem mixture into the cream cheese.
  9. Mix together well using a wooden spoon or your hands. Be careful, as it will be rather hot.
  10. Set the caps into a 13×9 pan (or larger) with sides.
  11. Optional! Melt enough butter to just put a little in the bottom of each cap or just brush some over the top of each after they’re filled. You can put any extra butter in the bottom of the pan.
  12. Fill the caps with the cream cheese/sausage/stem mix.
  13. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.
  14. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the tops are crusty and the mushrooms have turned dark.
  15. Scoop them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange them on a plate.
  16. Serve warm. They reheat well, so you can make them ahead of time.


Chocolate Haystacks

 Cookies, Desserts  Comments Off on Chocolate Haystacks
Dec 222014
Chocolate Haystacks
Recipe Type: Dessert
[url href=”×267.jpg”][img src=”×267.jpg” width=”300″ height=”267″ class=”alignnone size-medium” title=”01″][/url]
  • 2 C of Sugar
  • 1/2 C of Cocoa
  • 1/2 C of Milk
  • 1/2 C of Butter
  • 3 1/2 C quick oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  1. Bring two cups of sugar, 1/2 c of cocoa ,1/2 c of milk and 1/2 c of butter to a full boil. Remove from heat and add 3 1/2 cups of quick oatmeal and 1/2 tsp vanilla.
  2. Mix and drop spoonfuls on to wax paper. Let cool. Enjoy!


HO HO HO It’s a GLUTEN-FREE Holiday!

 Gluten- Free, Holiday/Entertaining  Comments Off on HO HO HO It’s a GLUTEN-FREE Holiday!
Dec 172014


HO HO HO It’s a Gluten-Free Holiday!

The holidays can be challenging for people living with a gluten-related disorder since food is such a major focus of the festivities. With some preparation, and a few good recipes, you can have your (gluten-free) cake and eat it too!

Most children with Autism benefit greatly from simple changes in their diet. Eliminating Gluten is one such change that can benefit them greatly.

My son Hunter, really loves his desserts!

My Pumpkin Bread is one of his favorites.
Since he was small, I have made this simple treat for him.

It doesn’t need to be frosted or covered in sprinkles or powdered sugar…NO SIR…he just loves mommy’s Pumpkin Bread.

Hunter is in his teens now and he loves to help in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Bread is one of his favorite things to make.

I truly love spending this time with him baking together. I have an additional holiday gluten-free dessert recipe that is great for the home cook, hoping to impress their families this holiday season.

 It’s pretty cool and it’s attached as well. Here we go!

Click here for HUNTER’S Favorite Pumpkin Bread

GF Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-free desserts don’t always turn out fabulous and the last thing you want is to make a gluten-free delight for a holiday celebration that doesn’t live up to your expectations. (Be sure to try a few out beforehand). While many people may be watching their dessert intake on an average day and may not even partake in dessert at a dinner party, birthday party etc., almost no one refuses dessert at the holidays – making the enjoyment of their dessert that much more important. My recipe for Vanilla Christmas Trees are sure to be a hit with your friends.

Click here for my Vanilla Christmas Trees

GF Trees

Merry Christmas!!


Vanilla Christmas Tree Meringues

 Desserts, Gluten- Free, Holiday/Entertaining  Comments Off on Vanilla Christmas Tree Meringues
Dec 172014
Vanilla Christmas Tree Meringues
Author: Ashley V.
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tartar
  • 1 cup of plain white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Butter Vanilla Emulsion flavoring
  • Christmas colored sprinkles
  • Golden tree topper sprinkles
  • Green food coloring.
  • Icing bag (or zip lock bag) and a star-shaped frosting tip. You can find these in the frosting section at your grocery store.
  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet, covered in foil, and sprayed lightly with non-stick spray.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites for a few minutes on high speed until they are frothy.
  4. Add the sugar into the frothy egg mixture in small amounts.
  5. Continue to mix on high for 1 minute.
  6. Add in the cream of tartar.
  7. Add butter vanilla emulsion and green food coloring until desired shade is reached.
  8. Continue to whip the mixture on high for 4-5 minutes until stiff peaks form (meaning that the meringue holds a form when the mixer is turned off).
  9. Using an icing bag with a star shaped frosting tip, press the meringue mixture down onto the foil and gently swirl in a circular motion (like making soft serve ice cream).
  10. Add Christmas colored sprinkles and a golden sprinkle on top.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes or just before they begin to turn brown along the edges.
  12. Let them cool completely (or eat them when they are a tiny bit warm!).
  13. Store in an air tight container. Makes about 24 small trees.
  14. HOW FUN, right? You don’t have to be a professional to make adorable sweet treats. Just some simple ingredients, some simple directions, and you’re good to go!
  15. Merry Christmas!


Hunter’s Favorite Pumpkin Bread

 Breads, Easy Recipes, Gluten- Free  Comments Off on Hunter’s Favorite Pumpkin Bread
Dec 172014
Hunter’s Favorite Pumpkin Bread
Author: Ashley V.
  • 1 Package of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free baking Flour
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 cup Gluten Free Coconut flour
  • 1 Can Libby’s Pumpkin
  • ½ Cup Coconut / Almond Milk
  • 2 TBS Maple syrup (all natural)
  • Nutmeg (to taste)
  • Cinnamon (to taste)
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the wet.
  2. Pour into a greased (with coconut oil) bread pan.
  3. Bake @ 350 degrees for 45-50 mins.


Dec 082014

It’s hard to believe my favorite holiday is only a few weeks away – Christmas. This week I managed to finish all of my Christmas shopping for friends and family along with planning some unforgettable recipes to share with all of them.
December is a month of various Multicultural holidays. There are some wonderful holiday customs carried out all over the world, but also many delicious desserts, I would love to share a few with you.

Christmas in France
In French Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Joyeux Noël’. In France, Father Christmas / Santa Claus / St. Nicholas is called Père Noël (Father Christmas).
The main Christmas meal, called Réveillon, is eaten on Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning after people have returned from the midnight Church Service. Dishes might include roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses. For dessert, a chocolate sponge cake log called a bûche de Noël (Yule Log) is normally eaten.

a buche de noel

To try this beautiful recipe for  Buche de Noel click here 

Christmas in Sweden
In Sweden, presents might be brought by Santa called ‘Jultomten’ or by gnomes/elves called ‘Nissar’ or ‘Tomte’. They’re called Nisse’ in Norway.
Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.
A popular food eaten at St. Lucia’s day are ‘Lussekatts’, St Lucia’s day buns flavored with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast.

a lussekatter 2

Click here for this delicious Lussekatter recipe

Christmas in Italy
On Christmas Eve, it’s common that no meat (and also sometimes all dairy) is eaten. Often a light seafood meal is eaten people go to the Midnight Mass service. The types of fish and how they are served vary between different regions in Italy.
For many Italian-American families a big Christmas Eve meal of different fish dishes is now a very popular tradition! It’s known as The Feast of the Seven Fishes (‘Esta dei Sette Pesci’ in Italian). The feast seems to have its root in southern Italy and was bought over to the USA by Italian immigrants in the 1800s. It now seems more popular in America than it is in Italy! When people return from Mass, if it’s cold, you might have a slice of Italian Christmas Cake called ‘Panettone’ which is like a dry fruity sponge cake and a cup of hot chocolate!

a panettone

Click here to try this Panettone recipe for yourself

Christmas in Greece
In Greek Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Kala Christougenna’.
On Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing ‘kalanda’ (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Sometimes they will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands.
If the children sing well, they might be given money, nuts, sweets and dried figs to eat.
The main Christmas meal is often Lamb or pork, roasted in an oven or over an open spit. It’s often served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables. Other Christmas and new year foods include ‘Baklava’ (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavored with nuts and cinnamon), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry). Another popular Christmas dessert are melomakarono, egg or oblong shaped biscuit/cakes made from flour, olive oil, and honey and rolled in chopped walnuts.

Food Stylist:  Jamie Kimm

Click here to try this mouthwatering Greek Baklava treat

Christmas in Japan
In Japanese Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Meri Kurisumasu’.
In Japan, Christmas is known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas Eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents. In many ways it resembles Valentine’s Day celebrations in the UK and the USA. Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant – booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very difficult as it’s so popular!
Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day. It is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance!
The traditional Japanese Christmas food is Christmas cake, but it’s not a rich fruit cake, but is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.

a strawberry sponge 2

Click here for a traditional sponge cake recipe

I hope you enjoyed this “sweet” trip around the world…Let the holiday baking begin!