Showing newest 7 of 19 posts from December 2009. Show older posts
Showing newest 7 of 19 posts from December 2009. Show older posts

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve!

Happy New Year's Eve! Do you make New Year's Resolutions? I don't usually make them regarding fitness or weight loss or anything like that because I don't see the point in waiting for a new year to start something. I have been thinking of what I would like to change for 2010 and I have come up with a couple of things. 

1. Drop the guilt. I put a lot of pressure on myself if I don't do something to don't see someone that I feel like I should have. I want to stop pressuring myself and just feel good about the decisions and/or choices that I make.  I need to stop worrying about what other people think and be concerned with myself or my family. 

2. Try out new things. This is pretty broad because I would like it to mean anything from recipes to new foods to restaurants to visiting new places. 

3. As new things come in, old things should go out. I give away clothes 2 times a year, but I want to be more conscious of items that I do not need/want as I buy new things.  I am starting the new year by giving away 3 small bags of clothing. 

I think that's it for now. I have to continue to think about this. What are your New Year's resolutions?? Do you have any resolution roadblocks? Check out this quiz over at if you do!

Today we are having our 10th annual Christmas Brunch with my friends from high school. We usually do it on Christmas Eve, but this year because of new jobs it didn't work out. Usually everyone is there but since the date had to be changed there wasn't one that everyone could do. It's going to be a light showing, but still fun nonetheless.  We need to go back to Christmas Eve for next year! :( 

Every year we also take a picture in this wreath.  

I always try to bring some type of baked treat to the brunch. Jackie usually brings brownies but since she isn't going :( there probably won't be any. I decided to make chocolate chip cookies using a recipe I found after searching around one day. 
The recipe called for cake flour, so I made it by using 3/4 cup unbleached flour and 2 tbs corn starch (that equals one cup).
The butter and sugar mixture. There is NO skimping on these.
Right before I added the chips.
I only had mini chocolate chips. I was kind of bummed about it, but I figured it was better than nothing. I was really really wishing I had an extra bag of dark chocolate or chunks, but no such luck. After I put the chips in the directions said to put plastic wrap over it and let them sit in the fridge for 24 I did about 12 hours because I didn't have time for 24.

1/3 cup cookies! Before I put them into the oven I sprinkled sea salt on them.
Yum. They are ah-mazing. Hope the girls like them! 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite and Jacques Torres

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.
Note: Fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are usually available at Fresh Market, Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma.

Recipe from

So what are your New Year's Resolutions? How are you planning on sticking to them??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good Riddance Day!

Good Morning! Today feels like the first day of my break after all the (good) craziness of Christmas and driving back and forth. Yesterday really was the first day of calmness, but Danny took the day off so it really just felt like a weekend. We had a relaxing morning and walked to the gym and did some shopping at Americana in Manhasset. We also spent a ton of money some good quality time at Whole Foods.
I picked up a couple things at Whole Foods that I have never had before. I try to get a couple new things every time I'm there so it doesn't rack up $$$$ all at once.

This time I tried....Mary's Gone Crackers onion flavor. It is made with brown rice, quinoa and seeds and they are SO good. They are NOT overly processed crackers and they are delicious. 

I also bought cacao nibs to make yogurt or smoothies more interesting. It is just raw cacao chopped up (the stuff chocolate is made from).  I also bought real cranberries because I was annoyed that all the dried cranberries that I found had added sugar to them. So I am thinking about muffins with real cranberries instead of dried.

I bought a couple other things like a huge loaf of whole grain bread and hard goat cheese.  (And if you haven't ever tried hard goat cheese, you are MISSING out!) Danny and I snacked on provolone and goat cheese while I made a quick chili for dinner. 

Right now I am watching the TODAY show (weird how I never usually do that) and they just did a segment on an even NYC is having right now. In NYC they are having Good Riddance Day this week in Times Square. People can go to Times Square and write down what they want to get rid of in 2010 and then stick it in a giant shredder. People are writing down things like: Pounds (obvious one), Ex's (another obvious), credit cards, debt, etc.  I will be doing to Times Square at some point this week so I am thinking about what I would write down.  If it was last year if would have been credit card debt, but we successfully accomplished that in November.
I would write down: people with bad attitudes, excess paper, worrying and clutter. 

The last two I don't particularly do a lot, but I think if I could I would totally rid of it. What would you write down if you could go to Times Square???? Obviously, (as I tell my students) there is no right or wrong answer! 

*I plan on baking some muffins today so hopefully I will get to share a recipe later! 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Italian Cheesecake!

Merry Christmas! I took a little bit of a blog vacation while I was with my family and Danny's family in PA. We had a wonderful Christmas, spending Christmas Eve in New York with a gigantic fish dinner.  It's the one time a year I make an exception to fried food (with the exception of the occasional fried calamari). We had an exorbitant amount of food, but actually not too many leftovers haha.  My favorite part had to be the king crab legs (not fried, in red sauce), lobster (not fried either) and calamari and shrimp (definitely fried). We opened presents until midnight and then Danny and I made the dark, long drive to Lancaster, PA.  The ride went pretty smooth with the exception of seeing one deer in the road, so we are pretty sure someone up there was watching out for us..

After only sleeping about 3 hours before Christmas we woke up kind of like zombies, but with 6 kids opening presents we quickly woke up. It was so fun to see our nieces and nephews open up presents from Santa. It was controlled chaos.  I was amazed at how well they all shared their new toys, especially the Wii they got.

That was one of the favorite toys, a Barbie guitar that played "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"...soon to find out it played more than that, but they just LOVE that song. 

After taking a power nap Danny and I started to make appetizers and dinner.  We started with spinach dip because that needs to sit in the fridge the longest.  We also took out the chicken parm and sauce so it would start to defrost. 
We had a very successful dinner and then after dinner we had peanut butter lumps and cheesecake among other amazing cookies that my sister in law, Janet made.  Uncle Tommy was so nice to send peanut butter lumps and crumb cake with us and the crumb cake was half way gone Christmas morning. 

Today is going to be my last of holiday desserts before I go back to my normal posts about healthy living and making good choices. This cheesecake is just TOO good to not post.  


2 (8oz) cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint sour cream
1 lb ricotta
3 tbs flour
3 tbs corn starch
1 stick melted margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a pan of water on the bottom.

I basically don't do anything without my mixer. 

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar,4 eggs, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat it all together. Add sour cream, ricotta, corn starch and flour. Add the melted margarine. 

Pour the mix into a spring pan when it is all mixed.

Leave the cheesecake in for about 70 minutes. Check the top to make sure it is lightly browned. After the cheesecake is done shut off the oven and leave it in with the door closed for an hour. 

Take it out and put it in the fridge until you are ready to serve!

Enjoy it! A couple small bites of this is all you need to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Homemade Crumb Cake!

Merry Christmas Eve! It's finally here! I am off to the gym then back here to pack some stuff up and head first to my mom's (for an awesome fish dinner) and then to Pennsylvania.  Uncle Tommy was good enough to share his crumb cake recipe after me begging him to write it all last weekend reading yesterday's post. 

We don't have any pictures but I will add some after this weekend. 

Here he is...

Hey bloggers,

It's Nicole's favorite uncle, Uncle Tommy, with another guest appearance and another not so healthy, indulgent treat! This is a staple throughout the year, but especially at Christmas time. This quick and easy crumb cake recipe will amaze your guests and most definitely satisfy their tastebuds.

Take any basic, boxed yellow cake mix
Add 2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of water
and beat with a mixer for 2 minutes on medium
Once smooth, pour into a rectangular, greased and floured baking dish or aluminum tray.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown

When you have 5-7 minutes left for the cake to bake, start making the crumbs as follows:
Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Melt 2 sticks of butter and add to prior mixture
**Crumbs form best when mixed with your hands!

Once the cake is done in the oven, sprinkle the crumb mixture over the entire surface and place back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes.

When that is complete, let it cool, and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar! Your guests will think you slaved over this treat for hours and are sure to love it! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!

Good Luck ! 

Thanks, Uncle Tommy (and Jess for helping)! 

Okay, well I better get to the gym and back so I can get ready when Danny gets home from work!

By the way if you still need to wrap NEED to get yourself one of these!!

It makes wrapping SO much faster and easier! (and I didn't look for the tape every five seconds!) I found mine at the dollar store so I bought 2 and lots of refills. WORTH IT! We wrapped these presents super super quick:

Have a very, MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hope Santa brings you everything you wished for! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Special Day before Christmas Break!

WOOHOO! I am so excited to be sitting right in front of 11 days off.  Not to mention tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the entire year, but I have to say today was a pretty great day. We watched Because of Winn Dixie in my class and I got a bunch of cute stuff from my students.  Then I got some of my favorite things from a co-worker/friend and some special packages in the mail today!!

Coffee from my all-time fav coffee place on Long Island. Thanks Jo!

A special card and gift card to one of my pals and my favorite place  to go together. Thanks Doe :)

3 amazing things from Kathleen. My number one fav. tea that is only around during the holidays (JOY), a HungryGirl Survival Guide and a really nice smelling candle!!

Then we also received this...

haha how funny. Danny's uncle sent this to us.

SO getting back to this wonderful longggg weekend...

My favorite meal of the year is Christmas Eve with all of the fish! We are having scallops, shrimp, filet, calamari, lobster, mussels and crab. How can any of that be bad? Of course Danny and my two cousins don't eat fish so they will be having chicken parm. (Danny will be having that 2 days in a row...but trust me he's NOT complaining...)

I have mentioned that I am cooking for Christmas Day at Danny's parents' house. I did a couple of things before to make my life easier on Christmas day. After making our rounds to my family on Sunday we came home and made the sauce and chicken parmigiana. I then froze it and will take it with us tomorrow. 

Basically we will be having:

  • Beef tenderloin
  • Chicken Parmigiana
  • Mashed Potatoes (with a choice of sweet potato instead)
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Antipasta Salad
  • Italian Cheesecake (will post recipe for day....)
  • Crumb Cake (will make Uncle Tommy guest post this recipe....)
  • Whatever anyone else brings
To be honest I am a little concerned Uncle Tommy's crumb cake is going to show up my cheesecake. He does strive for perfection and my cheesecake has a couple of sad cracks in it! (because obviously the pan of water underneath did NOTHING!!) 

Anyways - To make the chicken parmigiana I used some of my whole wheat breadcrumbs from my whole wheat bread I made a couple days before. (I just put it in the food processor with some dried oregano, basil and parsley and pulse.)

Thin sliced chicken breast
3 eggs (for about 6 breasts)
about 2 cups breadcrumbs (may need more)
Canola Oil
Pecorino Romano Grated Cheese
Grated Mozzarella Cheese

I put the eggs on one plate and scrambled them. Then I put the breadcrumbs on another plate. I sprinkled all three plates (chicken, breadcrumbs and eggs) with salt, pepper, grated cheese, oregano, basil and parsley. I mixed it in well.  Then dipped chicken first in egg (both sides) and then in breadcrumbs.  Preheat canola oil with a teaspoon of butter (so it doesn't splash). When oil is hot, start putting chicken in oil. Let it fry on both sides. When it is done place paper towels on a plate (to soak up excess oil) and place chicken on plate. 

After they turn golden brown flip them over.

After chicken is done, first put a thin lining of sauce down on a tray.  Then put chicken in tray and put sauce on top. Then sprinkle more grated cheese and put a generous amount of sauce down.  Put grated mozzarella cheese on top and heat for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

I just cannot believe how quickly time goes. It is Christmas Eve's Eve tonight! I wish it was socially acceptable to leave out Christmas decorations and a tree for way longer. 

Hope you have a great Christmas Eve's Eve! Remember part of making good choices is about letting yourself splurge every once in a while otherwise you set yourself up to binge! Enjoy some of those treats you can only get around this holiday season!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Espresso Brownies!

I promise I will go back to other recipes besides decadent, rich, indulgent desserts after I post everything I have baked in the past two weeks.  I did make a great dinner tonight from a Everyday Food recipe that came out great, so I will post that when I get time. 

This week is going to go super fast (or slow...) because it is only a three day work week. One of my students gave me a gift certificate to Starbucks with a to go mug..SCORE...(is it that obvious I LOVE coffee??) Anyways, he made my day. 

I am getting excited for Thursday and Friday. Thursday we do the 7 fishes in traditional Italian style. It is my most favorite meal of the entire year!! I am mostly wrapped..except some of Danny's presents but the rest are ready to go. My cheesecake is done and ready to bring to my mom's and Danny's family's house. 

So if you need a good pick me up or jolt...or just love a good chocolaty brownie, than this is YOUR dessert.

Giada is my GO-TO girl for desserts for the holiday season. 

Espresso Brownies

This is the glaze that I put over the brownies. Again, my stand mixer is my saving grace.

Brownies glazed after they totally cooled.


Espresso Brownies by Giada DeLaurentilis


  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Cut into bite-size pieces. Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.
Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

What is on your agenda for the Saturday before Christmas?? Right now I am in my favorite spot for Saturday and Sunday mornings...parked on the couch, right in front of the Today Show. The only thing I need is my coffee and it's brewing right now. I have a couple of things planned for today, but nothing huge. We are going to go to the gym, get some more candles from Bath & Body works (they are on sale 2 for $20!) and make a cheesecake. Tonight we have a Christmas/Holiday party in the city, hopefully it doesn't get snowed out by the 12 inches of snow we are supposed to get.

I am making a cheesecake for dinner tomorrow. We are having Christmas dinner with my grandma and aunt, since Danny and I will be in Lancaster, PA with his family for Christmas this year.  It is my mom's cheesecake recipe, with sour cream, ricotta, cream cheese, etc. It's the only kind of cheesecake that I like. SO GOOD. I'll post the recipe after I make it. 

Today I'm posting another dessert recipe because that's all I have done lately is bake  because this recipe is so good! Yesterday I brought in a huge tray of cookies to my work and they were gone in a little over an hour. The rainbow cookies were the biggest hit and then the biscotti. I made two types of biscotti, chocolate walnut and pistachio cranberry.  I will be posting both, but for today just the pistachio cranberry. Did I mention that both biscotti recipes are from Giada DeLaurentilis? I love her.

The most time consuming part of this treat is de-shelling the pistachios. After you have de-shelled enough of them throw them into the food processor and chop them up into chunky pieces.

This batter is definitely for the holidays with the red cranberries and green pistachios. How pretty??

Shape the dough into a long log on a non stick pan.

After it comes out of the oven slice it into long thin pieces. I cut them at an angle.

Arrange them on a baking sheet and put them back into the oven to let them toast.

This is what they look like when they are done. SO good. You can also dip these into chocolate if you want, but I skipped this step because I loved how they tasted just like this.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.
    Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
    Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days and frozen for up to 3 weeks.

Original Recipe from Food

These are what I gave out to some people just to share my treats. 

These are one of my favorite desserts I have made so far. Give it a try!

Have a great Saturday, I hope you get all of your shopping done!!


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