Friday, March 25, 2011

Birthday with a hint of Basil

I always love creating and sending personalized gifts-it adds another special touch! If you haven’t perused, what are you waiting for? Kellie at got me hooked on this site while planning for my wedding. It’s like an Ebay for sellers that customize and design their own things from invitations, pillows, stationary, jewelry, labels, etc…you can even make requests (called alchemy on etsy) and sellers will actually send you samples of what they can do and bid on your project! My friends know that I’m obsessed with it and check in daily. I have purchased my wedding sticker labels, personalized monogrammed stationery, bridal party jewelry, clutches, and much more on there so I can attest to how great they are!

Today I wanted to share with you a new seller I have come across that is absolutely BUZZ worthy…meet etsy seller Noelle at “pinkbathtub designs”. I was looking for a birthday gift for Kellie (her birthday is April 11th) and found a really cute kitchen towel with a black cat on it. Kellie has an all black cutey cat named Basil and she loves to hang out with Kellie when she’s in the kitchen. I contacted Noelle at pinkbathtubdesigns and saw that she also had a variety of recipe cards. I asked if she could make some matching cat recipe cards to accompany the towel to make a cute part of her gift. She contacted me right away and thought it was a great idea too and sent me a sample within ten minutes! We worked together on what we would put on the recipe cards for some personalized-afication and I came up with “In the Kitchen with Basil” for the top right corner and then “A recipe from Kellie”. We created, communicated and I sent payment for gift on Monday, Noelle shipped on Tuesday, and Kellie received it in the mail on Thursday and absolutely loved it!

Kellie’s email to me was  I just melted when i saw the recipe card with the little black kitty that said in the kitchen with basil. that was so witty. and it says my name on the bottom. basil was curious when i opened em so, she was sitting on the counter next to the mail. it was cute!

So check out pinkbathtubdesigns and sign up on and share with me your great gift finds or what great things you find for yourself!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Basil Egg-n-Cheese Bagel Strata

A few of my girlfriends went to Parc Restaurant Bistro & Café in Philadelphia (Rittenhouse Square) for brunch on Saturday. Parc is a Steven Starr restaurant serving traditional bistro fare in a charming Parisian ambience. We were having a post-wedding celebration that day since they were unable to make it to our wedding. What better way to start our day then with mimosas and eggs! I decided to go with the scrambled eggs, bacon, and Lyonnais potatoes. You’re probably thinking, “why would you get scrambled eggs, I’m sure there was a gajillion others items you could have chosen.” Fact is, I like plain and simple, and guess what? My eggs were perfect and full of fresh herbs! I especially loved the chives in my eggs and thought, hmm what a great idea! So since I’ve been on a hunt for a strata/quiche/frittata recipe, I decided to incorporate some of those flavors on my Sunday cooking spree. I made this egg concoction Sunday morning in  anticipation of throwing it in the oven that night when Anthony came home from work for a nice Sunday Breakfast for dinner so we could watch my new favorite show “America’s Next Great Restaurant” at 8pm.

Basil Egg-n-Cheese Bagel Strata
1 ¼  cups milk
2 plain bagels (med-large sized), split, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bag of mixed cheddar shredded cheese (or your choice)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon chives
1/2teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon pepper
¼ cup turkey bacon, uncooked, diced finely

  •      Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  •        In large bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle some more cheese over the top.  Cover; refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  •       Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover dish; bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and center is set.

*if using smaller bagels, you may need to use three. It’s best to use bagels when a day or two old so they get nice and crispy in the oven.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lozza Mozza Italian Casserole

I'm full steam ahead still with my cooking a "week in a day" on Sundays...As you know, I get somewhat nervous when cooking anything italian since Anthony grew up in an Italianmakeyourowngravy household and I grew up in a Ragu casa...Hence my anxiety! At any rate, I found a few different manicotti casserole recipes online at and decided to embark on my own creation using turkey meat instead of ground beef. Since I made this for the next day, I put everything together and put in the fridge-you can make this the night of though...Let the starting line up reveal itself...

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 jar (16 oz) of spaghetti sauce your choice 
  • (I was out of my red sauce, so I used Renaldi Tomato and Basil)
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • half cup of parmesan reggiano grated cheese
  • thinly sliced pepperonis
  • salt & pepper
  • oregano
  • half of an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 13x9 lightly greased casserole dish
What to do next...
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and pour the rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside
  • Meanwhile, brown the onions and garlic for 3 minutes, then add the turkey meat, salt and pepper, and oregano.With a slotted spoon, remove turkey and onions to your baking dish. Stir in jar of sauce, parmesan reggiano cheese, cup of mozzarella cheese, and cooked pasta into baking dish and stir together well.
  • If your making this to eat a day or so later, let casserole cool, and cover with saran wrap and put in refrigerator.
  • When you're ready to make, preheat oven to 350, take out of fridge and remove saran wrap. Top with some pepperoni slices on top and sprinkle the rest of the bag of cheese on top of the casserole.
  • Bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes
  • Serve with some yummy crusty garlic bread and bon appetito!

*If your making this to eat after preparation, preheat oven to 350 and bake for 20 minutes waiting for cheese to bubble. You can also add italian sausage or mushrooms if you would like. If you do add mushrooms,sausage, sure to add another jar of tomato sauce then (and a deeper casserole dish!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Creamy Potato Bake

I don't know about you, but this Spring weather just makes me want to be outside ALL THE TIME! I'm also training for my 11K in Atlantic City in a few weeks so when I run after work in the nice weather, it kind of cuts into my dinner prep by the time I get home. Hence, I've really become inspired watching Rachael Ray's new show "Week in a Day" and have even tried myself the last two weeks to plan/grocery shop/cook ahead and I gotta say, it really helps!

I've also really been into casseroles lately-it helps make my workweek dinners quicker and easier. I used to think casseroles were always filled with comfort fat filled foods but you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want, hehe! You can also just have a casserole dish with a side, so you just have to whip up chicken or steak, etc and cuts down your cooking time.I had some leftover yukon potatoes and a pork loin in the fridge that I wanted to use this week and then I came across this recipe came from Simple Daily Recipes (Loaded Potato Potluck favorite). Who doesnt't love mashed potatoes? Then add some crumbled bacon and ooey gooey cheese baked in the oven! Yum! So, decision was made. Peppered pork loin, salad, and loaded baked potato potluck for dinner on Thursday night. I did change up some of Simple Daily Recipe's recipe and I added some Basil Bee influence in this and used turkey bacon (to stay a little bit on the healthier side) and also added some Kraft Savory Garlic cooking creme to this recipe. I love garlic to much and we all know I am in love with the new cooking creme's from the last few of my posts!

Here's the starting line up...
  • 8 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 to 3 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup CARNATION Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups (8-oz. pkg.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 6 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled, divided
  • Sliced green onions (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Kraft Savory Garlic cooking creme
Place potatoes in large saucepan.  Cover with water; bring to a boil.  Cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease 3-quart casserole dish.
Return potatoes to saucepan; add evaporated milk, sour cream, cooking creme, salt and pepper.  Beat with hand held mixer or mash by hand until smooth.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese and half of bacon.  Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, remaining bacon and green onions.  Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Makes 16 servings.
This casserole can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated.  Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 40 to 45 minutes or until heated.  Uncover; top with cheese, bacon and green onions; bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bee in Training

Mwah! Leprechaun And Pot...Happy St. Patrick’s day my fellow bloggers! Hope your day is full of Kelly Green and Shamrocks!
I'm now going to jump ahead to April's Fool's Day...I wanted to update you on my upcoming 11k running race in Atlantic City-The April Fool’s run on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 at 10am. You actually have the choice of running a 7K or 11K…I know what you’re thinking, a new twist on other races distances, right? I guess that’s why they are doing it on April Fools! A couple of my girlfriends decided to sign up to 
A. get our butts in gear for upcoming summer weather and 
2. Would be something fun to train together. 
I’ve been putting hours into the gym switching up my cardio and uppin’ my mileage on the treadmill, but since the weather has been breaking and feeling more like spring, I’ve ventured outside to run finally! I ran last Saturday the 3.7 mile loop around Cooper River Park in South Jersey and kept it under 50 minutes, which is great for me and I felt fantastic. There’s something about running outside in cool weather, while jamming out to Pandora and feeling strong and that you can keep running! This Saturday I’m attempting to run the loop again and add another mile. The 11K is just about 7 miles so I feel like my training is really starting to pay off and I feel great! I’ve been getting some great night sleeps, probably because I’m so exhausted from training but I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. I’m thinking about getting the new Nike Free’s after the race to start running in, has anyone tried them? Any comments/feedback? Or should I just stick my Saucony’s?

Anyhoo, if you’re in the area and like to run, you should sign up! It’s only $27 and you get a free tech running shirt. You also get the chance to dress up and they will  be awarding prices for the craziest outfits! The link is below and let me know if you do sign up!
April Fool's Run-Atlantic City-April 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preppin' for Patty

Happy Wednesday! I’m in the process of assembling my St. Patrick’s day dinner menu for tomorrow night and feel as if I haven't posted in a few days- Turns out I have been using my husband’s camera for my cooking from this past weekend so I will update what I cooked the last few days and upload ASAP.

In the meantime, I thought I would post a few new blogs I have come across that are super cute and full of fun recipes/useful info to know try! What I ask of you is to comment and leave me one of your favorite blogs so I can stop on over for a few! Thanks all!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Buzz Breakdown

If you’re much like me and love “The Soup”, “E! News”, etc…I love when they do their week in review, best dressed/worst dressed and just an overall reflection of the past week so I thought I would put together my own Week in Review. I’m going to call it the Buzz Breakdown…

So last Friday I put some effort into planning our dinner recipes for the upcoming week to make my grocery shopping more efficient over the weekend with the ingredients I would need for the entire week, hence limiting my multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the week. I have to pat myself on the back and say that the planning actually was a success, as it should be , right? Lol, but it really did feel good to know that I had everything I needed in the fridge just ready for me to whip up. It also amazed me how many ingredients I had already had in my pantry and/or fridge from everyday things so budget wise, it was pretty too!

My Buzz Breakdown is below along with the recipes I used throughout the week. I know this won't always work but if I plan for 4-5 meals for the week, I’ll always have an extra meal here or there to whip up some other time since some days you have things to do after work or you go out to eat!
Sunday-Chicken Enchiladas (Kraft’s recipe with some minor tweaks on me end)

Monday-Asian Turkey Meatballs paired with white rice
Tuesday-out to dinner with Mom at Los Amigos
Wednesday-Anthony ended up grabbing a bite at work since he was working late and I was at the gym and got a mango tango smoothie on my way out and heated up some leftovers with another cooking creme I picked up last weekend (savory garlic, yum!) when I got home. Love love love their cooking cremes!
Thursday-Skinless chicken thighs  w/ shallots in red wine vinegar 
Friday-is Happy Hour at Tria Wine Bar in Philadelphia
As far as next week, I’m still working on my list as we speak, but I do know that I will be making the WW General Tso’s Chicken recipe which I’ve made before and it’s super quick and super delish!

Happy Friday bloggers and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our Bee Hive

So to catch you up to speed with our home projects, our upstairs hall bathroom is almost done! Anthony has been working so hard at this project after putting in long hours at work. His craftsmanship shows how talented he is! The shower is almost done tiling and then we just have the floor left to tile! The sage green color we chose for the walls really looks great against the dark wood cabinetry, and the intricate crown molding up top. We also ventured out and installed the sink faucets to the right side of the sink basin instead of centering them. Yay, so close to the finished product-and then on to the next! Home ownership-it's rewarding but a lot of work! Shewwwwy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Buzz with the Bee

I'm asking you to share with me some of your recommendations this week. Check out my questions/answers below and then "Comment" me with your favorites! I am always up for checking out new things and to see what else is on the bloggers minds!!

1. What's your favorite blog site of the week?
2. What's a new item you bought this week? Giada De Laurentiis for Target - Parmesan Garlic Vinaigrette-found at Target for $2.99
3. What's your favorite way to serve/cook potatoes? Mashed
4. What book are you currently reading? The Help by Kathryn Stockett
5. Favorite reality TV show this season? Bethenny Ever After

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cloudy with a bowl of Turkey Meatballs

As I train for the April Fool's 11k run in Atlantic City, I've been spending time at the gym running after work since I keep hitting snooze on my alarm clock in the morning. So I've had to prepare my grocery list and coordinate schedules with Ant to figure out what time I'd be home to make a healthy dinner that wasn't making us sit down at 9pm at night. So I actually took the time last week and spent time perusing my favorite cooking blogs and websites to figure out our dinner menu for the upcoming week by using simple quick recipes but with a dash of culture. I've got to say that if you have time to pre plan your dinner menu the week prior, not only does it make your grocery shopping more efficient and dinner planning easier, but you also avoid stopping at the grocery store every other day if you forgot something from the weekend. Not to mention saves on gas, especially with the prices rising right now, eeek! Sorry, I digress...

Sooooo yesterday was my take on Kraft's Mexican Enchiladas and tonight was Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping sauce from and was so super simple and very easy to follow...
I added more panko bread crumbs then it called for since my mixture was still too wet from the egg, added two extra cloves of garlic (I can't help it!), and as I'm typing my blog post this very minute and looking over the recipe again, I realised that I actually forgot the ginger (ha)!  It took me about 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes to cook. I also paired this with some white rice and the dipping sauce was phenominal. I love the fresh clean crisp taste of the cilantro and when mixed with the turkey meat, it's not overpowering as one would think when you think cilantro. At any rate, we have enough leftovers for tomorrow night if need be. Check out the recipe below and again another thumbs up recipe from Ginas Skinny Recipes

Asian Turkey Meatballs With Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Size: 3 meatballs • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts
Calories: 229.1 • Fat: 11.1 g • Carbs: 8.5 g • Protein: 24.3 g
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1-1/4 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Dipping Sauce
  • 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 chopped fresh scallion

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Mix ground turkey, panko, egg, salt, scallions, cilantro, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp oil and mix with your hands until combined well. Shape 1/4 cup meat mixture into a ball and transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
For the dipping sauce mix together lime juice, water, soy sauce, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a bowl. Add scallions.

Transfer meatballs to a serving dish. Stir sauce, then drizzle meatballs with 1 tablespoon sauce.

Serve meatballs with remaining sauce, about 1 tbsp per person. You'll have leftover sauce, trust me!

Makes 12 meatballs
Thanks Gina!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ench for Enchiladas

If you're like me and watch the Cooking Channel and Food Network (along with some Bravo along the way), you would have seen the new Kraft Philly cooking creme commercials. My girlfriend Kellie from Wilmington, NC had emailed me a chicken enchilada recipe a couple days prior when I realized it called for those cooking cremes and after looking at the recipe, it seemed pretty easy. While at the grocery store on Friday night, I picked up a tub of the Santa Fe cooking creme for $1.99 to put on the docket for our Sunday night dinner. I followed the recipe for the most part but  garlic and some diced red and green pepper to the onion and halfed the Santa Fe creme-the recipe below reflects my revisions but you can find the original recipe by clicking on the "Easy Chicken Enchilada's" title below. Check out Kraft's website as both Kellie and I have used a few of their recipes and are easy for midweek dinners!

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Prep Time 15 mins

Total Time 35 mins
servings 4 servings

1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
salt and pepper
1/ 2 cup diced green and red pepper
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can(14.5 oz.) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 /2 tub (10 oz.)PHILADELPHIA Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme, divided
1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese
8 flour tortillas (6 inch)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook and stir onions, peppers, and salt and pepper in hot oil in large skillet on medium heat 4 to 5 min. or until crisp-tender. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, 3/4 cup cooking creme and shredded cheese.
  3. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cooking creme. Cover.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 min. or until heated through and enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's like Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, but even better...RESTAURANT WEEK IS COMING!

Happy Friday!
Just wanted to let you know that it’s soon to be restaurant week in SJ and thought I would pass on the website with participating restaurants should you be interested

March 20th-25th
mmmm Catelli's, Los Amigos and The Chophouse-my favorites!

You can also click on the Recipes tab
and find dozens of great recipes from some of our local restaurants
like Scaturro's Pan Seared Scallops by Chef David Levecchia!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Turkey for Tacos!

I have to quickly blog about this recipe I stumbled across online and share it with you all. Unfortunately, my camera was lifeless last night as I left my charger at work, so I have no pictures to post, but like I said, this is blog worthy enough and her pictures do justice!

I love tacos but the meat and grease that goes along with it and taco packets are filled with sodium and high calories that quite frankly I'm trying to avoid...and then Gina's Skinny Recipe's Blog came across my have to try this! It's super quick and easy and for the most part, you probably already have half the ingredients in your fridge, pantry and spice cabinet.. My hubby loved it and devoured a few of them..the turkey meat tasted soo good you would have never knew the difference. This is also WW friendly! So enjoy and check out my new favorite blogger!