It has been too long.  I am happy to be online again and I plan to update this blog with recipes, mostly.

This delicious Cannellini and Tuna Salad recipe came from my parents who learned how to make it in Italy.  I started calling it “Protein Salad” one summer when I was serving it to my friends’ teenagers.  I figured if an athlete hears ‘protein’ he will be more likely to eat it.

Protein Salad
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 7oz cans white tuna, drained
1 cup finely chopped onion (I use vidalia/sweet)
6 TBSP salad oil (this is how the original recipe was written, and I usually use half extra virgin olive oil and half vegetable oil)
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup parsely, chopped (I usually just chop up a huge bunch and don’t measure.  I’m sure I use more than 1/2 cup!)

Protein Salad ingredients Protein Salad mixed Protein SaladThis is so simple, and absolutely delish!

The creamy beans are really satisfying and this is a healthy lunch choice.

(And the teenage boy actually ate it and liked it!)


Nov 486


  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 eggs

Put lemon zest and sugar into Cuisinart and process fine.  Add remaining ingredients, process smooth, and put into cake pan (greased and floured.)  When making cupcakes, put the liners into the pans and then use a scoop to evenly measure the cake batter into the pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F until done.  Use a cake tester when it comes out clean.  For regular sized cupcakes it will take about 23 minutes. For jumbo cupcakes it takes around 25 min.

BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (Buttercream cheese or Butter Creamcheese or Butter Cream Cheese? hmmm. . .)

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter

[sidebar tip: 8 TBSP = 1/4 pound = 1/2 cup, so this recipe would take 12 TBSP or 3/4 cups]

  • 1 1/2 bricks cream cheese (12 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar (24 oz. or 680 grams)

The butter and cream cheese should be at room temperature.  Cream together and add vanilla.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat well.  Pipe onto cupcakes and refrigerate if not eating the same day.

This recipe is the vanilla cupcakes in the photos.

The chocolate cupcakes are “Black Mocha Cake” from page 146 of  the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.  The frosting on the chocolate cupcakes is “Buttercream” from page 84. “Holy Moly” it it good! With 15 egg yolks and four cups of butter it sure is rich. The Moosewood Buttercream is labor-intensive but so so worth it.

Nov 475     Nov 478 Nov 477  Nov 481 Nov 484 Nov 483 Nov 480 Nov 479

 “You can’t eat just one!”
  •     1 box Club Crackers (not saltines)
  •     2 sticks butter (1 cup or 1/2 pound)
  •     1 cup brown sugar
  •     12 oz. pkg. milk chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips
  •     1 cup diced pecans or sliced almonds
  •     coarse sea salt
  •     non-stick baking spray (such as Baker’s Joy or PAM)
  •     aluminum foil or non-stick foil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 9″x12″ pan with non-stick foil, or foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Line pan with club crackers.

Club CrackersMix butter and brown sugar and boil in a heavy saucepan for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

IMG_4001Pour over crackers.


Put pan in oven for 3 to 5 minutes until crackers float.  Remove pan from oven.


Sprinkle with 12 ounce package of milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips.


When melted, spread chocolate with spatula.


Cover with nuts or coarse sea salt.

IMG_3997Refrigerate, and when cold and hard, cut into bars with a sharp knife.


IMG_4004Add walnuts for a nice nut crunch.  This is our attempt at making the Chocolate Pizza Company‘s classic Toffee Nut Crunch which is made with homemade English toffee.




For homemade holiday candy, add coarse sea salt for salted toffee bars.  These are similar to Skor or Heath candy bars.


The salt complements the rich buttery toffee.

AMAZING and easy!

Cashew Brittle

I originally got this recipe in the local newspaper about 10 years ago, and over the years I’ve tweaked it.  This takes 15 minutes to make, and it’s only six ingredients!

Package it in a nice tin or holiday GladWare container and give it to neighbors for a token homemade Christmas present. It’s always appreciated and looked forward to by our friends.

You will have to play around with the recipe because every microwave oven is different.  Even an extra 30 seconds can make this go from amazing to awful.  If it’s undercooked it will be chewy like caramel (still yummy) and if it’s cooked too long the cashews will be brown and it will almost taste burned.

I’ve got it down to a science, and here is my version:


  • 1 cup lightly salted roasted CASHEW halves & pieces – this is aprox. 1/2 can (Planter’s can is 9.5oz, and Southern Grove by ALDI is an 8oz. can)
  • 1 cup granulated white SUGAR
  • 1/2 cup LIGHT CORN SYRUP
  • 1 tsp. BUTTER (I just cut 1/3 of the TBSP. line on a stick of butter, but sometimes it’s closer to 1/2 of the line so it’s really more like 2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. pure VANILLA extract
  • 1 tsp. BAKING SODA

In a 2 qt. microwave-safe bowl with handle, stir together the nuts, sugar and corn syrup.

Microwave, uncovered, at high for 6 minutes, until the mixture is light brown, stirring well halfway through at 3 minutes.   (The original recipe said around 6-8 minutes, but again, it depends on your microwave.)

Meanwhile, grease a Silpat Baking Mat (on a cookie sheet) with butter.

Prepare vanilla, butter, and baking soda measurements into small bowls, as you will need to work quickly with the hot candy.

Using oven mitts, remove the bowl from the microwave oven. It will be VERY HOT, so be sure you don’t let it touch your skin.

Stir in the butter and vanilla. I use two rubber spatulas, one to stir, and one to clean off the spatula back into the bowl.

Continue to microwave the candy, at high, for 90 seconds (the original recipe said 1 1/2 – 2 minutes but 1 1/2 is perfect in our microwave.)  The mixture should be caramel-colored.  Get your cookie sheet ready in the meantime.

Remove with oven mitts and add baking soda.  Stir quickly until light and foamy.  IMMEDIATELY and carefully pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin with spatula as quickly as possible (sometimes I just tip the cookie sheet and let ooze, but it will be thicker.)

Cool for 30 minutes and then break into small pieces.  I usually put a plastic sandwich baggie on my hands to break the candy.

Stores well in a covered container for up to two weeks (but it won’t last that long.)

This is so delish!  It’s that mix of sweet and salty which is now so popular with the sea salt & caramel.



IMG_3010 IMG_3009


IMG_3024 IMG_3030IMG_3007

THIS LAST PHOTO IS WHAT IT SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE.  This batch was cooked 30 seconds too long and the cashews are too brown.

Oh my heavens I’ve just found the most AMAZING treat:



~ Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt and Roasted Almonds ~

only 58 calories each

These chocolates are .375 oz. (10.6 g) and are perfect for satisfying that gourmet sweet tooth.  I love one in the evening with a glass of red wine.  MMMM my new fave!

GHIRARDELLI Sea Salt Escape gourmet milk chocolate squares

So every day I get an email from zulily advertising their sales.  Today I happened to take a look and was intrigued by the day planners and organizers from momAgenda.

If the mini day planner is originally $41 ($19.99 at zulily), then how much are the maxi day planners from the company website?!  The momAgenda (or myAgenda) Desktop day planners are $43 and are now on sale for $34.40.  And the Mini-Daily agendas are on sale for $28.70 (the myAgenda minis are $36 but on sale for $28.80.)

myAgenda customizable weekly view

Well, after perusing the momAgenda website, I found free printables!  Thank you Nina Restieri!

AND. . . I also found a link to another website, Buttoned Up, with more printables to help get organized!  Thank you Alicia and Sarah!

One of my challenges is how to get the kids to eat their packed lunch. . . 

I’ve tried doing bento.  I’ve used cookie cutters and other methods of cutting veggies into shapes, trying to make the kid snacks fun and appetizing. 

And I just get so frustrated when the lunch box comes home with uneaten food which gets wasted!  

  • An apple with only a few bites in it, or a cut-up apple which has turned brown and never even touched!  
  • Cheese sticks and yogurt warm and unopened. 
  • Sandwiches squished and old by the end of the day. 
  • Fruit which is no longer cold and firm (and of course they don’t like the mushy strawberries or blueberries.)  
  • A plastic baggie filled with crackers or pretzels which have gotten crushed and broken.  (They like the whole ones the best.)   

I could go on and on.   WHAT IS A MOM TO DO?!!

I’m always trying to find new solutions and creative ways to get them to eat relatively healthy food at school.   It’s a never-ending challenge.   I think I do a good job packing a variety of colorful food choices–items which they normally eat at home.  

BUT, I think the key is that the food needs to get to the cafeteria in the same condition it was in when I packed the lunch!  Chances are better that lunch will get eaten if I add a cold pack and try to use containers which will keep the food from getting damaged.   But backpacks and lunch bags get tossed on the playground, stepped on in the classroom, squished into the desk, and so on.  

Here’s my latest find: Diamond brand Multi-Purpose MINI CUPS.  They are those teeny tiny containers that you put ketchup in at FIVE GUYS or what you put the salsa into at MOE’S.  And now you can buy these 2 oz. containers to have at home! 

So far the kids are loving them. 

I’ve done grapes, berries, fish crackers, raisins, and cheese cubes. 

I also put baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and cucumber smiles in a baggie with ranch dip in one of these mini cups. 

They are small enough that you don’t really need much, and it provides variety for the kids.  These small portions are just perfect for their little bellies. 

Now, I realize that it’s not good for the environment and it’s more garbage, but it’s working for our family at the moment. 

How do you get your kids to eat a balanced lunch at school?

Daddy was away on a business trip and this is the artwork he came home to: two adorable monster guys and a sweet bird (penguin?)

Isn’t this guy awesome?!

So so cute!


And the bird.


I am so in love with my little artist.


There is nothing like homemade pizza.  And my man tosses the best pizza pie!

For a quick weekday dinner, we buy the dough in a frozen ball (found in the deli at the grocery store). 

Defrost it on the counter all day. 

We like either Don Pepino or Furmano’s canned pizza sauce.

Most of the family eats cheese (just a lot of shredded mozzarella), and mama likes veggies.

Tonight my slice was sweet onion, fresh basil, and sliced and pitted kalamata olives.  MMMMMM!

My typical corners have any of the following: sliced tomato, feta cheese, pesto sauce, banana pepper slices,  bell pepper (green, or red/yellow/orange), basil, kalamatas, and ALWAYS sweet onion. 

. . . il mio piatto preferito? Pizza con pomodoro e cipolla.

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