Heart-y Chicken Soup

Last week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided that warm chicken soup was just what I needed to fend off the grumpiness-inducinge snowstorm that was de-railing my evening plans. AND, I decided to put a heart-shaped spin on it, something I’ve done once before!snowhearts


  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • celery, washed and cut into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Chicken Broth (at least 3 of those square cardboard containers)
  • Lasagna noodles, pre-cooked (al dente!)
  • fresh rosemary
  • green beans, cut in two

Kitchen Implements:

  • small heart-shaped cookie cutters/fondant cutters

Step 1 – Gather Ingredients!


Step 2 – The Chicken Part

Prep the chicken by taking all of the meat off of the bones and setting it aside.

chicken and rosemary

Once you’ve picked it clean, put the carcass, the fresh rosemary, and at least one container of chicken stock in a pot and boil it. This makes an amazing, aromatic, and delicious broth-base that will amp up the awesome-factor of your soup!

Step 3 – Heartify!


Pre-cook the noodles (not fully, or they will be mushy when they go into the soup!) and peel and slice the carrots.20150214_143924

Use the heart-shaped cookie/fondant cutters to cut hearts out of both!20150214_141014

Step 4- Assemble!

Sautée onions in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add celery and simmer. Add peppers and cover with remaining non-rosemary broth. Add remaining ingredients (carrots, chicken, beans).Assembling the Soup

Step 5: Final Steps!

20150214_154021Strain your rosemary broth and add the richer broth to the soup and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes before serving, add in the heart pasta!

Step 6: ENJOY!






Supernaturally Good

WINCHESTER LOVE AND SPNIf you, like me, tuned in to watch the 200th episode of Supernatural last night, well. You know. You know that there are no words to describe what ridiculous rip-roaring supernaturally high school musicalish CHUCK-ness that we witnessed. If you didn’t watch it (or you did and understood nothing) . . . well I’m sorry. BUT GOSH. For those of you that cohabitate the fandom with me, sit back, tune into some Dean-Inspired Music Mixes (x) while you wait for last nights songs to hit iTunes, and check out my mini Supernatural Theme Party pictures!

First I made a centerpiece befitting the boys. centerpiece

Then I decorated like the Unabashed Fan that I am.

Remember this?  [x]

My Tribute:


How about this? [x]

My little hommage:


Then there’s this little nugget: [x]

Which I figured deserved some inclusion…

bigger cups

Then of course, I could never forget Kevin. (RIP)



And since that made me sad, I had to include something involving Crazy!Cas… Remember his obsession with Bees and Honey? [x]

Well . . .

castiel's honeyAnd you know, there’s also that whole question of Fading Grace…

fading graceBasically, I had a little too much fun, and there were a bajillion other little things I wanted to do before I wound up running out of time!


Then I decided it was high time I whip up some fandom-themed foods!


Some of these were a little subtle, but others were pretty obvious, right?


In the end it wound up being a delicious spread of snacks . . . even if I was too emotionally wrapped up in the show to eat much!

the full spread

So, if you don’t watch Supernatural, you can appreciate approximately 2% of all of this, and you should probably go watch the past 200 episodes ASAP.


And that’s all I have to say about that. [x]

Apple Cakey Goodness

This week, I made a cake. A cake that takes the cake, if you know what I mean. I found myself in possession of some very disappointing Red Delicious Apples (as all Red Delicious Apples tend to be) that were starting to grow even less appetizing over time. Thus, I went to find my Apple Cake recipe and put them to some use before they morphed into fruit-fly traps on my counter. Sadly, I couldn’t find my recipe, but NOT AT ALL sadly, I wound up using one that I found online (somewhat modified) and it might just be my new favorite Apple Cake recipe. The original is from here, but  I made just enough changes that I am going to share with you what I wound up making (based on what was in my cupboard) so that you can reproduce the exact apple-y goodness that I was able to mash together, should you so desire (although I’m sure the original recipe is pretty stellar!).


Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (unsweetened vanilla)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla/vanilla bean paste
  • 3 cups (4 or 5) grated Red Delicious apples ( leave the skins on!)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
Saucy Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp.white vinegar (makeshift buttermilk) – allow this to sit for 5-10 minutes before using!
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust rack to middle position.
  2. Stir together sugar, eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl.  Fold in apples and coconut, and then pour the batter into a buttered Bundt pan – the batter was quite thick!
  3. Bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle of the cake comes out clean and batter-free! Now, I found that the toothpick was still not quite clean after about an hour, so I increased the temperature to 350°F at that point and baked it for an additional 10-15 minutes and that seemed to do the trick!
  4. During the last 15 or so minutes of baking time, pull out a medium-sized sauce-pan and get your carmelly-drenching-glaze ready. To make the glaze, you put butter, sugar, milk/vinegar mixture (ahem: buttermilk), and baking soda into a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stirring until ingredients are mixed/melted together.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Immediately after removing cake from oven, pour most of the sauce over hot cake, reserving about 1/2 cup. Let the cake stand for 1 hour, letting the sauce seep into the cake and absorb its magical powers, and then turn it out onto a plate.  Pour the reserved sauce over the top.
  6. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. I had a piece that night and it was STUPENDOUS, but when I served the rest of it to friends the next day, the reports were good! It was so moist, but not chunky or overwhelming – just the right blend of Apple and Spice and Caramel (aka. Heaven).



Zombie Themed Treats!

This past weekend, I had a chance to attend my very first Zombie Prom. While the event itself was quite fun (who doesn’t like dancing and people watching with a bunch of undead characters in downtown Salem, MA?), I think the festivities preceding the dance itself were equally as delightful, so I thought I’d share with you some of the creative treats that were included!

My Contribution?

zombie cupcakes

20141025_154458With a little pinspiration [x] I decided that I would attempt my very own sugar glass shard cupcakes, with a zombified green twist, and what you see is my not-quite-pleasant (but exactly what I was going for) result! I followed a simple online how-to  for making my sugar glass, but added just a little green food coloring in near the end. The whole process was very fire burn and cauldron bubble-y, if you know what I mean.cauldron bubble - sugar glassBut I wound up quite pleased with the results! As an added touch, before I frosted them, I put some raspberry jam in about half of my cupcakes for the added oozy effect . . .

zombie cupcakes

. . .  and they were DELICIOUS!

Some of my friend Romina’s contributions (that likely deserve their own posts, but as I didn’t make them myself, I’ll leave that up to her) included:



These jell0-shots were actually delicious, and were made in STRAWS to achieve the exceedingly nasty look!

pumpkin pukin

pumpkin puke

Somehow this was simultaneously adorable and gross at the same time – definitely a rare accomplishment, if you ask me.

So, there you have it! Some deliciously icky-l0oking zombie party treats!

Happy Almost-Halloween everyone!



Delicious Treats You Don’t Want to Miss in the Greater Boston Area

1. ANYTHING from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester

sugar mags

sign image via, french toast via

This is the breakfast place that I take everyone to when they come to visit . . . and also the one that I go to WHENEVER I can come up with a reason to go out for breakfast! The food here is out of control phenomenal. Whether you order Georgia’s French Toast (like French toast and S’mores all-in-one), or the Carrot Cake Pancakes with the maple butter, or the Goatie (an incredible omelette with tomatoes, caramelized onions, & goat cheese), or the AMAZING porridge (one of my favorite things ever!), you won’t be disappointed!

2. Dinner (Try the Kibbeh!), at Kareem’s in Watertown

Dinner at Kareem's When you step into this restaurant, it almost feels like you’re having a luxurious Syrian dinner in the home of a friend. . . the intimate setting and novelty of seeing your food prepared before your very eyes is an experience in and of itself, but it is more than simply unusual as a setting. In addition to the setting and service being fabulous, the food is also incredible – like a magical blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goodness. Everything is fresh and flavorful and hits the palate perfectly. They only take cash or check, which is good to know in advance, but it’s worth the pre-planning to have this dining experience!

3. New England Ice Lollies in Newburyport

lollipop ice   It feels wrong to just call these incredible creations “popsicles”. These cannot be demoted to the same status as those frost-bitten things in the back of your freezer. . . these are heaven. Refreshing and cold on a hot day, they also are some of the most flavorful and delectable things I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting!

4. Ice Cream at The Cherry Farm Creamery in Beverly

cherry farm creamery It’s delicious, it’s local, and it’s the perfect creamy, decadent treat for a hot summer night. Or afternoon. Or morning.

5. Cake from D’Amici’s in Lynn

Cake from D'Amici   My sister buys birthday cakes here whenever the opportunity arises (and with a rotating door of 5 children in your home, the opportunity arises with happy frequency!). I can honestly say that their cake is awesome, but MORE importantly, the frosting is PHENOMENAL.

6. Tortelloni di Zucca at Chianti in Beverly

This is the only item on this list that is unaccompanied by a photo. . . probably because I usually am FAR more focused on eating it than playing food paparazzi. I wish I could truly and fully describe to you how delectable this dish is.  It is homemade pumpkin tortelloni is served with bits of diced pear and caramelized nuts in a creamy  Gorgonzola sauce. It can be yours for a mere 16 dollars and it’s worth every penny.

7. Barbecue Chicken Pizza &Key Lime Pie Martinis from Soma in Beverly

Soma   These are my stand-by favorites any time I get the chance to go out, particularly when I’m craving barbecue chicken pizza goodness. Top it off with a key lime pie martini (rimmed with graham cracker crumbs!) and you’ve got the best quality comfort food you could ever ask for.

8. Decadent Lemon Blueberry Mascarpone Cake from Jaho’s in Salem


Jaho’s coffee shop in Salem is a wonderful spot. They have an unbelievable array of teas, drool-worthy gelato,  some incredible pastries (including the cake, which I adore) AND free wi-fi. It’s the perfect spot – lovely for relaxing, meeting up with a friend, studying, or even just grabbing something yummy to eat.

9. Pastries, Bread, and Coffee at A& J King Artisan Bakery in Salem

A and J King

This small artisan bakery is tucked into a little corner of Salem, MA, and it has the most incredible breads and pastries you will find outside of France. It is definitely 100% on par with the best I tasted in the year I lived there!

10. Chocolate Orgasms from Rosie’s Bakery in Cambridge (or Chestnut Hill!)


My sister brought me this as a thank-you after I babysat for her. It was out of control delectable.

11. A quite-nice Chicken Kabob Salad . . . but INSANELY amazing PITAS from North Beverly Roast Beef in North Beverly

chix kabob salad - north bevs

I kind of already explained it in the title, but let me just explain. . . the salad is good and all, but the PITA BREAD. It is insanely good. They make it fresh and you can see the puffy pillows of pita cooling on the counter right before they get cut and served to you FRESH. They are divine. I always order an extra.

12. The Cinnabun Pancake from The 17 State Street Diner in Newburyport

17 Street Diner Cinnabun Pancake

I recently tried this delicious magical pancake for the first time. It is simultaneously both the most fluffy and the most delicious warm  breakfast treat you will ever taste. I don’t even usually like cinnamon, actually, and it is still the best pancake I could ever conceive of.


[Salad] Bar NOTHING

Summer meals are sometimes less-than-appealing to plan . . . particularly if it happens to be on the hotter side. SO, I just thought I would remind you of an option that you may have written off!

salad bar optionlettuce image via

That’s right. Now, salad sometimes sounds less-than-appealing. I mean, salad can just be so blaaaand, right?



Salad is only boring if you lack imagination, friends. The spread above is the delightful smorgasbord of salad accoutrements that I recently enjoyed with friends.


A few things you might enjoy on a good salad:

  • avocado
  • sweet corn
  • chives
  • peppers of all colors (pan-seared for some extra deliciousness)
  • chick peas (baked, if you want that extra little crunch!)
  • bacon
  • kale chips
  • sunflower seeds
  • pine nuts
  • sugar snap peas
  • mushrooms (sautéed is better)
  • dried cranberries
  • olives (unless you’re me)
  • basil
  • snow peas
  • tomatoes
  • beans (black beans, kidney beans . . . )
  • cucumbers
  • radishes, if you’re into that kind of thing
  • strawberries
  • onions (might I suggest shallots?)
  • cheddar cheese cubes
  • carrot shavings
  • hard boiled eggs
  • croutons (homemade are delicious, if you can manage it!)
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • peach slices
  • apple slices
  • wheat berries
  • broccoli florettes
  • slivered or sliced almonds
  • candied pecans (or walnuts)
  • beats (I bake them and cut them into chunks)
  • orange slices
  • feta cheese

Anything I forgot?




I just made Baklava for the first time!

What is baklava, you ask? Well,Google give us this handy definition:

baklava defined


OR, you could just look at this beautiful visual straight from my very own kitchen!

baklava - cooking

I used the Pioneer Woman recipe, because, after reading her book, I decided that she is a kindred spirit and that I just absolutely love her. Her recipe for Baklava is fairly simple and straightforward. The only thing I might change about the directions would be to melt the butter, or at least let it get very very soft, before putting it on the uncooked/layered Phyllo dough. If you don’t do this,  the thin sheets of dough will tear. This might seem like common sense, but (embarrassingly enough) some of us could still use the directive. I might also put a flashing warning sign above the recipe regarding the RIDICULOUS amount of sugar/calories these bad-boys have . . . I mean, let’s just say that you wind up mixing butter and sugar with TWO CUPS of honey at one point. So, maybe don’t eat this if you’re diabetic. Health-factors aside, however, the Baklava was delicious and a smash hit with the crew who requested it!



The Aunt Donna Legacy: Making Pizza!

At the end of a long day, when I am too tired for creative meal preparation and too cheap for takeout, there is one perennial favorite recipe that resurfaces, coming to my rescue time and time again.

Aunt Donna’s Pizza CrustMy Recipe Book

Seriously, in my ever-growing Family Recipe Compilation Notebook, this is by far my most turned-to recipe. Take a closer look:

recipe 2Could this get any easier? I think not. Six ingredients, one of which is WATER. If you don’t have these in your cupboard, it’s time to go shopping. Once you follow the recipe process, the assembly is a cinch!

Step 1: Choose what you will use as toppings (think outside the box, here, people).

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 9.41.47 PM

Step 2: Prepare your work Area.

step 1

Step 3: Spread the dough onto your (greased) Pizza pan.

step 2

Step 4: Select your sauce of choice. I’m obsessed with using barbecue sauce, and Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold is my hands-down favorite. When your dough is saucy, sprinkle it with onions, peppers cherry tomatoes, whatever you happen to have handy of the vegetable persuasion.

step 5

Step 5: Add more than you think you want. Pizza with stuff is always better. Balance the amount of bread out with obscene amounts of vegetables.

step 6

Step 6: Cheese.

step 7

Step 7: Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven and resist the urge to eat immediately, as studies show that this will result in a burnt tongue.

finished pizza

Step 8: Slice and ENJOY YOUR PIZZA!

sliced pizza

I’m a [VALEN-]tiny bit excited.

love is a balloon


When I say I love Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, I get a multitude of reactions. Most frequently some version of this:


Occasionally, I’ll get something more like this:


But usually it’s more like this:


I have ranted in the past about why I think people need to get over themselves with regards to Valentine’s Day, so I don’t want to get too much into it again. But I basically love Valentine’s Day like Buddy the Elf loves Christmas.


Things You Should Consider Doing This Valentine’s Day:

1.) Give Unexpected Compliments to Unexpected People



2.) Watch this Video, because THIS is a great example of LOVE!

3.) If you can’t think of somebody in your life to share the love with, then find somebody who needs a little extra love in their lives and DO SOMETHING about it!

Colin's Facebook Page


There is a little boy in Minnesota whose birthday is coming up, but who doesn’t have friends at school . . . his mom made this facebook page, and you could always take a moment to write him a birthday card tomorrow!

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 4.38.27 PM

4.) Watch Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!

win a date


This movie recently came up in conversation, and I remembered just how fantastically fun a chick-flick it really is. Plus, it’s not TOO goopy for a valentine’s day, even if you are single and feeling depress-y about the fact.

5.) Give somebody a valentine, for crying out loud! It doesn’t need to be a sappy one!

eyes for you

Whatever you do, please remember to share the love, even in the Valentiniest  of ways! There are so many shoddy reasons that people celebrate any holiday, but what a wonderful thing it is to have an entire holiday devoted to showing the people that we care about how much we love them. If that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

[if you want to read more about my love of Valentine’s day, click here]