Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

I have been craving pizza lately but I feel like when I order it in or go out it is so unhealthy. So tonight I decided to make my own healthy pizza! I love the boboli crusts because you just throw all your topping on, pop it in the oven, cook for 8-10 minutes, and it’s all done and ready to eat! This is a fun thing to make with a lot of people since the pizzas are personal size so everyone can make theirs to their liking. Tonight I used some fresh and healthy ingredients that I had in my fridge…tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and of course cheese. It was so yummy and I can’t wait to make it again soon!


  • 1 boboli pizza crust (8 inches)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh spinach
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh garlic
  • Tomato sauce of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Note: For all the ingredients just use as much as desired! 
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place pizza crust on a cookie sheet. Top with tomato sauce, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella, feta, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place in the oven to cook for 8-10 minutes until cheese starts to brown and bubble.

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This appetizer sampler was inspired by a lot of random things in my refrigerator… another time that my scrounging has led to yumminess! Sometimes I will make this for a little dinner for myself or I will make it for a group if I am entertaining. I didn’t list amounts in the ingredients since you can pretty much just make as much as you need! I love cheese and crackers at any time and the salami is an added yummy factor. Asparagus and proscuitto is a simple appetizer that a lot of people think sounds complicated but it it super easy and quick to prepare. Babybel cheeses are little and fun and they have so many different flavors to choose from: Original, Bonbel, Gouda, and White Cheddar (and I may be forgetting one or two). Try this little appetizer platter and you will wow everyone- yourself included!


  • Your favorite crackers (I like the big round whole wheat ones)
  • Sliced deli cheese (I like all kinds but especially Swiss and Cheddar for this)
  • Salami
  • Prosciutto
  • Asparagus
  • Babybel cheese (I love all flavors!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over a large baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut ends off of asparagus and rinse. Pat dry and roll asparagus in oil, salt, and pepper and place on baking sheet. Put in the oven and cook on both sides until it starts to brown (turn it after about 5 minutes but check in on it depending how hot your oven is).
  2. While the oven is preheating and asparagus is cooking, work on everything else. 🙂 Cut cheese slices into 4 and assemble salami and cheese onto the crackers. I like the big round crackers since the salami fits perfectly on top (I use Safeway brand whole wheat crackers but I am sure there are a ton of other similar kinds).
  3. When asparagus is done cooking, let it cool and then roll it the long way in the prosciutto.
  4. Arrange everything on a large serving plate (or you can have a plate for each appetizer if you are making lots of each). Something else fun that I like to do is make a little plate for everyone that I am entertaining but you can do whatever you want to. 🙂
Serve with: White or red wine and/or cocktails. This is a perfect starter for an Italian meal- I used it as my starter for a meal of stuffed shells and Caesar salad and it was a perfect pairing. 🙂

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This recipe is an upgrade on one of my absolute favorite comfort food recipes, broccoli casserole. 🙂 Some of my favorite foods are pasta, cheese, and veggies and the addition of ham to this casserole adds extra protein and LOTS of flavor! I decided to toss ham and mushrooms into the casserole tonight since I had them in my fridge and I am a huge fan of using things in my fridge before they go to waste. This recipe is one of my favorites because you can assemble it in advance, pop it in the fridge, and cook it when you are ready to eat. I did all of the prep, went to yoga, then came home and popped it in the oven, cooked it for 30 minutes and it was piping hot and ready to eat! The best part? LEFTOVERS! After eating my dinner, I put the rest it into tupperwares and placed them in the fridge so now when I need a quick lunch or dinner this week I can pop one in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until hot and ready to eat. A yummy meal in an instant!

Here is the recipe for this yummy casserole:

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 small heads of broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I buy it pre-grated!)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 oz. wide egg noodles
  • 8 oz. chopped black forest ham (I used the sliced deli meat since I had it in the fridge. It was super easy to just chop it up into little pieces to toss into the mix)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and chop veggies and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in ham. Mix together gently.
  3. Add in cream of mushroom soup and mix in gently.
  4. Cook pasta noodles according to package instructions and mix in when they are done and drained.
  5. Add in cheese and mix in.
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  7. Place mixture into a large casserole dish (you may need to use two since it makes a lot) and put in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, until noodles start to brown and casserole is cooked through.

Note: I LOVE veggies and cannot get enough of them. If you or the people that you are cooking for are not huge veggie lovers, feel free to cut the amount of veggies in half that you use. But remember that the more veggies, the healthier your meal! 🙂 Enjoy!

Egg noodles cooking away!

Veggies and ham waiting for the pasta and cheese!

The finished product!

Leftovers for the week!

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I was flipping through Food Network magazine and came across the recipe for this dip and could not wait to go to the store, buy all of the ingredients, and make it! And let me tell you, it is just as yummy as it sounds (as looks). This is a perfect appetizer for a party (superbowl is coming up…) and will definitely win you any man’s heart. Try it and see, I guarantee EVERYONE who tastes it will love it!

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Serves: 12


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Daisy Brand Sour Cream
  • 3 ounces bacon bits
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  3. Place the mixture in a 1-quart baking dish. Cover.
  4. Heat the dip for 25-30 minutes or until hot.
  5. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables, crackers and/or chips.

*Serving option: Dip may also be placed in hollowed round sourdough loaf, wrapped in foil and heated in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Recipe source: Daisy Brand

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My friend Tanya and I made this dessert for our Cultural Nutrition class project and it was absolutely delicious. The main flavor is coconut and it gives the rice pudding a creamy and luscious flavor that is unlike anything I have ever had before! We topped it with fresh fruit, consisting of mango, kiwi, strawberries, and pineapple. In my opinion, the more fruit the better!

Here is the recipe for this delicious dessert!

Serves 2-4

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes


  • 1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called “sticky rice”, available at Asian food stores)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1-2 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces (look for mangos that are fragrant and easily bruised), or 1 pkg frozen mango
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (for a natural sweetener substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. + pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. coconut flavoring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water


  1. Soak the sweet rice in 1 cup water for 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  2. The sticky rice can be steamed or made in a pot. To make it in a pot, do not drain. Add 3/4 cup (more) water to the rice, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir this into the rice, lifting any rice grains that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Turn the heat down to medium-low (#2.5 to 3 on the dial).
  4. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on tight, and leave to “steam” cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Make sauce and serve the dessert right away, or store the rice (covered) in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  6. To make the sauce, warm the rest of the can of coconut milk together with 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring (optional) and 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring over medium heat (5 minutes).
  7. Add cornstarch (dissolved in the water) to the sauce and stir to thicken it slightly. As it thickens, turn down heat to low. When thickened, remove from heat. Tip: Try not to boil the sauce, or you will lose that wonderful coconut flavor.
  8. Before serving, taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. If too sweet for your taste, add a little more coconut milk.
  9. There are 2 ways to serve this dessert:
  • Place scoops of the sticky rice in bowls (Note that sticky rice can be served cold, warm, or at room temperature, as desired). Ladle a generous amount of warm coconut sauce over the rice (creating an “island” of sticky rice). Add slices/pieces of ripe fresh mango. (If using frozen mango, be sure to give it enough time to thaw before serving.)
  • For “saucier” rice: Add rice (portion out 1 scoop per person) directly to the sauce pot and stir over low heat, gently breaking apart the larger lumps, but leaving smaller lumps/chunks). Now add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through. Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and sauce. Enjoy!

Zoe’s Notes: This recipe originally just used mango as the fruit part of it. For our class project, we were challenged to make healthy modifications to the recipe, so we added the additional chopped strawberries (1 pint), 2 sliced kiwis, and 1 large can of pineapple chunks. If there are other fruits that you like, I would definitely recommend adding them and please let me know how they taste in the recipe!

Source: About.com

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Just in time for Halloween, here is a super fun recipe for pumpkin cupcakes! I got this recipe via the daily emails that Real Simple sends out and it seemed so quick and easy that I wanted to make them immediately. With only 6 ingredients, you can’t get a much simpler and yummy cupcake recipe!

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Zoe’s Notes: Instead of making the cream cheese frosting, I bought it pre-made… you can do it whichever way you like! I also doubled the pumpkin pie spice since I love that flavor… try it and see what you think!

Source: Real Simple

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Lesson #1: It is critically important to taste test your product before serving it...sometimes this must be done over, and over, and over before being absolutely sure.

Whenever I get together with my friends Tori & Justin for a dinner party, Haley, their adorable two year old, excitedly requests to be my right hand woman in the kitchen; carefully helping to put the finishing touches on whatever dessert

Auntie Carol & Haley showing off their finished product

I’ve made for the evening.  We frost, caramelize, bake, slice, serve – you name it – she even gives me creative suggestions such as to add colored sprinkles to an otherwise dull chocolate cake to jazz it up a bit…I absolutely adore her.

So it should come as no surprise that when asked what Haley wanted to do while at Auntie Erin’s house for our Girls Night (while Justin & Tori attended Wine Down Wednesday at Town), her answer was “bake chocolate chip cookies!”  Done and done.

Last night Haley donned my great grandmothers apron and helped me assemble the spaghetti pie for dinner, and while that was in the oven, a batch of oh-so-delicious chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I’m not gonna lie, I let her lick the spatula more than a few times during the process, but hey, what are good aunties for if not to spoil the little ones left in our care at least a little bit!  Everything was super yummy and Carol, Haley and I had so much fun together bonding over good food and Toy Story 3 that Haley requested we have Girls Night again very soon…anything for my little baking protege.

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