Supermarket Deli Pistachio Salad

This pistachio salad  is one of my summer picnic favorites.   And while it’s usually a popular item at most supermarket deli’s there is no reason not to make it yourself at home.  The ingredients and the making of this salad are so simple that you’ll wonder (like me) why you didn’t make it sooner, or more often.

Here is what you will need.

(1) 8 oz. tub of light whipped topping

(1) 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (drained)

(1) 3 oz. package of instant pistachio pudding

2 c. mini marshmallows

2-3 drops of green food coloring (optional)

In a large mixing bowl mix the pudding and drained pineapple together.  Add the whipped topping and mix until everything is combined.  Add the food coloring if desired.  Fold in the mini marshmallows.  Refrigerate a couple hours before serving.

I didn’t use the food coloring in this salad.  If you decide to use it in your salad it will be much more greener.

Easy to make pistachio salad - a picnic favorite

What’s one of your favorite picnic salads?

It’s Not About The Cake

I was originally going to share a recipe for these little dark chocolate cupcakes, but when I realized that they weren’t the star of the show I shifted gears.  The frosting is the true star here!

And no, this isn’t a sponsored post.  It’s just about me being adventurous in my kitchen.

Love making homemade buttercream frosting?   Then I have a new trick for you.  Try substituting Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whisky in place of vanilla extract.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a huge frosting fan.  For me it’s more about the cake.  But I have to tell you that I COULD NOT STOP TASTING THIS FROSTING the entire time I was taking the photo’s for this post.  Seriously, it is that good!  And don’t you love how the alcohol didn’t tint the frosting?  It stayed bright white. 

I used about 1 tablespoon of Black Velvet Toasted Caramel in place of the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract my recipe calls for and I didn’t think it tasted boozy.  However,  there is no reason that you couldn’t start out by adding one teaspoon of the BV at a time until you reach the desired flavor you’re looking for. 


A Skinnier Version of Creamy Stove Top Rice Pudding

My mother always made a mean batch of rice pudding – the stove top version of course.   In fact, I would ask for it every year for my birthday in lieu of a cake – even though she filled the pudding with raisins that I would inevitably pick out one by one.

In my later years, I have come to two conclusions where rice pudding is concerned.  One, the raisins really do give it a unique flavor even if you have to pick them out like I do, and two, making rice pudding takes more patience than I sometimes have.  Why patience you ask?  Because if you don’t temper the eggs into the hot milk mixture you will end up with a disaster like I have done a few times before.  I almost had given up on making stove top rice pudding but after one more sigh, and a small self pep talk, I gave it one more shot.  And this my folks is what sweet victory tastes like.

If you are at all like me and patience aren’t your virtue on some God given days then maybe you’ll wait like I did – until a day when you feel invincible and time is on your side.

This a skinnier and lower sugar version of my mom’s original rice pudding.

Skinnier Creamy Stove Top Rice Pudding

1 1/2 c. skim milk

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. prepared instant rice (follow the directions on the package for two servings)

1 egg, beaten (in a separate bowl)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 c.  light whipped topping (Cool Whip or the like)

Prepare the rice in advance by following the directions on the box of any instant rice (cooks in the microwave in 5 minutes).  In a medium sized saucepan, add milk, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a boil; stirring constantly.  Add cooked rice and remove from heat and cool for a ten minutes.  Slowly ladle about 1 cup of the  milk mixture into the beaten egg until completely mixed.  Place milk mixture back on the stove and on the lowest heat possible add egg mixture to it; mixing as you pour.  Stir constantly until pudding thickens.  The starch in the rice will help achieve this.  Once thickened, remove from heat and add vanilla and nutmeg.  Refrigerate until cool.  Once pudding has cooled fold in one cup of whipped topping before serving.

I took pictures of this pudding while it was still fairly warm.  That’s why you see the whipped cream melting.  Again, it’s a patience thing…  And I was losing  the optimal natural light I had to take pictures of my creation.

A while ago Libbey Glass sent me these cute little glasses/dishes that are perfect for  watching for portion control or feeding a crowd where you want to serve small tastes of everything sinful!

I shared this recipe over at the blog The Country Cook – Weekend Potluck #162.  Check out all of the other great links that shared there with me.

Simple & Healthy Ingredients Make For Delicious Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing

So, welcome 2015! 

Like many people who make new year resolutions, eating healthier options of the things I like always tops my list.  I’m always optimistic coming out of the gate but somewhere along the line I start lose my momentum, fall off the wagon, and resort to my old (not so wise) eating habits.  I vow every year that “this year is going to be different”.   And in the end, I’ve only fooled myself into believing that I could forgo delicious sweets, homemade bread, second helpings of my favorite dish of macaroni and cheese, and of course the great wines found here in the Finger Lakes Region and abroad. 

But… In a good faith effort to try try again, I’m sharing a recipe I found at The Pioneer Woman’s blog for a healthy and delicious homemade salad dressing she has named Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing.  I made a couple adaptations to the original recipe.

I decided that Aunt Trish’s dressing has a Mediterranean taste to it – which I love.  It tastes so fresh and healthy, and the fact that there are no preservatives makes it all the better.  I do have to warn you that this recipe makes a considerably small batch.  My suggestion is to double or triple the recipe because I’m sure it will keep well in the fridge for a week or two – if it lasts that long!  At some point you may want to remove the garlic if you don’t want garlic overkill.

Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing ( This recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

3/4 c. olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

4 tbsp. of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt & pepper

Dash of paprika

1/2 tsp. honey

2 whole cloves of garlic (peeled and cut in half)

Put all ingredients together in a jar or dressing shaker and shake until mixed.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.


Have you made any new year resolutions?  If so, what are they?  Do you think you’ll stick to them?

Healthy & Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

Every year, for many years, I have broke a promise to myself and it all has to do with soup.  Yes, I said it all has to do with soup.

You see, each year I have told myself that this is the year I’m going to make Homemade Butternut Squash Soup.  But then I never do make the soup and there has never been a good reason for it either.  Just lame excuses.

This year, I finally kept my word to myself and made the most delicious and healthy soup imaginable.  I now realize that all that procrastination was crazy.  The most time consuming part of making this soup is the peeling and cubing of the squash – which I enlisted my hubby to help me with.  If you want to speed this soup making process up a bit then I suggest purchasing the squash already peeled and cubed from the vegetable section of your favorite supermarket.

This soup recipe fits my tastes and expectations perfectly.  There was no disappointments and I’m adding it to my tried-and-true recipes in hopes that I’ll make it for many more years to come.  If you try this recipe please let me know what you think of it.

Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter (or margarine)

1 small onion, diced

1/2 c. diced carrot

4 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. skim milk

1/4 c. half & half

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and oil on low heat.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Once onions are cooked, add carrots, squash, and broth.  Cover; bring to a boil until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the mixture.  Return to low heat and stir in milk, half & half, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt & pepper to taste.  Do not bring to a boil.   

This soup makes a great appetizer or entrée.  I served it as an entrée with a salad and homemade Almost Texas Roadhouse Rolls that I’ll be sharing with you in a future post.  

Although the ingredients are different, this soup reminds me of Panera’s Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup – yum!

What is your favorite soup recipe?

Simple Sunday Morning Breakfast–Fill Your Bellies; Warm Your House


I suppose it was to be expected.  Cold temperatures and snow flurries have intruded upon those of us that live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.  I’ve switched to wearing boots and a warmer jacket when I venture out.

But what about inside?  This morning our house was cooler than it has been and I was eager to get a fresh pot of coffee brewing.  And while the coffee warmed my soul and awakened me, it didn’t help warm the house.   Yes, I could have turned up the heat, but I had a much better idea like making breakfast in the oven.

With a plan in mind, I turned on the oven and started by raiding the fridge.  I came up with lot’s of healthy veggies, my favorite cheese -Jarlsberg Lite, low-fat ham, and of course our farm fresh eggs.  You can see where this is going can’t you?  All the fixings for a delicious frittata!

Making a frittata does not require a recipe or an exact science.  It’s more about adding a variety of your favorite ingredients. or those ingredients that you happen to have on hand at the time.

Here is how simple it is:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Grease a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray
  • Beat (4) large eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add 1 cup of milk to the eggs (I used skim)
  • Add diced veggies, grated cheese, and cooked meat to the egg and milk mixture (I added onion, red pepper, spinach, ham, mushrooms, and Jarlsberg to mine frittata)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Top with a little more grated cheese
  • Bake until the frittata is firm and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before cutting

I opted to go for a crust less quiche for a couple simple reasons.  Less calories and  less fat.

This is a perfect dish to prepare in advance if you are having overnight guests. Think about the holidays that are fast approaching.  

What ingredients would go in your favorite frittata?

Homemade Peanut Butter Topping–My Liquid Gold

If you haven’t noticed, my blog posts are not as frequent at they use to be.  It’s not because I don’t enjoy blogging anymore, it’s just that other activities have temporarily captured my attention.  To make up for my unusual absence, I’ve decided to share my recipe for my liquid gold with you.  Calling all peanut butter lovers to the table here!

If you’re not a peanut butter lover then I apologize – but have no fear, you can always make one of these toppings instead.

Country Apple Caramel Sauce

Blueberry Sauce

Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream Topping

Peach Glace’ Topping

Apple Rum Ice Cream Topping

Kahlua Hot Fudge Sauce

Black Cherry Ice Cream Sauce

And now for my liquid gold recipe!

Homemade Peanut Butter Topping

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

1/2 c. heavy cream

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put all of the ingredients except the vanilla into a medium sized saucepan.  On low heat, melt all ingredients together; stirring frequently.  Bring to a slow boil until sauce starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Cool slightly before serving on ice cream.  Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

*When you want to use topping that has been refrigerated, warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave before putting it on your ice cream.

If you’re looking for an easy no cook, no egg, ice cream recipe then I highly recommend you give my Simply Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe a try.  It is my all-time favorite vanilla ice cream recipe.

What is your favorite ice cream topping?

An Easy Chocolate Valentine’s Day Dessert– Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Today is Valentine’s Day.  In celebration of this romantic holiday, I made homemade chocolate pudding that we will have for dessert after a delicious home cooked meal.  It’s not fancy; it’s just good.

If you don’t like the sound of some of the ingredients that are listed on the packages of store-bought pudding, have no fear!  You will most certainly recognize each of the ingredients that go into this delicious, easy to make, creamy and chocolaty pudding.

I found this recipe at the Taste of Home

The only thing I changed? I omitted 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  And next time, I’d cut the sugar by 1/4 cup.  It is a tad bit to sweet in my opinion. 

I opted to serve the pudding individually so I used my mini glasses from Libbey Glass. I think these glasses make desserts look so much more fancy (even when they aren’t). 

This recipe makes a generous amount of pudding so I am planning on making homemade cream puffs and filling them with it.  Stay tuned…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m linking this post up at The Novice Garden’s Fiesta Friday #3.  If you get a minute, check out all of the other great posts that have been shared there this week.  And please join in!

Cheesy Potato Casserole

There isn’t much I’m going to gab about in this post.  Other than how deliciously sumptuous and belly filling this Cheesy Potato Casserole is.

Yesterday was one of those days that I decided to play mad scientist in the kitchen.  And oddly enough, I wasn’t craving sweets like I normally do, I was craving a comfort food.  Maybe it’s because we’ve had such cold and blustery weather for days on end.  Or maybe it’s because I was preparing myself for a night of cozying up in front of the television to watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  Whatever the reason, this mad scientist made the best cheesy potato casserole in her history of cooking.

Since I opted to make this dish later in the day I missed the chance to get nice bright photo’s but I went ahead and took pictures anyways.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. diced onion

2 tbsp. diced red pepper

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 c. skim milk

1 pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. season salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 can of Cream of Potato Soup

5 mediums sized russet potatoes (with the skins on), sliced thin

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (set aside for topping)

Grease a large casserole dish with butter.  I used a 10” oval dish.

Grate the cheese into a large bowl.

Slice potatoes.  I used my Pampered Chef Mandoline to get the job done quickly.

Melt butter in skillet on low heat and lightly sauté onions, peppers, and garlic.

Add flour to sautéed vegetables and mix thoroughly.  On medium heat, stir in the skim milk making a white sauce.  Stir constantly until thickened.

Add potato soup, salt, pepper, and season salt to the white sauce, completely mix all ingredients.

Remove from heat.

Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes and sprinkle half the cheese over them. Then sprinkle half of the French fried onions on top.

Repeat the process.

Finish the dish by sprinkling the grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees until potatoes are tender – about 1 hour.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes more to brown the top of the casserole.

These potatoes are so good.  Cheesy, gooey, and crusty all in one dish!   I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the casserole bubbling and freshly baked.  We dug in before I even gave it a thought.

This would make a great dish to take to any potluck supper.  I can almost guarantee that you won’t have to worry about carting any leftovers home.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken From The Fall Harvest Dinner

I hope you made it to The Fall Harvest Dinner that my great blogger friends and I hosted yesterday?  If you didn’t, then please rewind for a minute and check it out before you continue reading this post.  You won’t want to miss the beautifully decorated fall table, tasty cocktail, yummy appetizers, scrumptious salad and side dish, soft and delicious homemade bread and rolls, and sweet dessert that was shared there.  Recipes are available for each dish featured in our Fall Harvest Dinner, along with Sandra’s table setting tips, at each individual blog.  Just follow the links I’ve included in that post to access them.

My contribution to our dinner party was a Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken.  Autumn is the perfect time to start roasting meats and chicken is no exception. This is an easy dish to make and a relatively inexpensive way to feed a hungry crowd.  The recipe and baking instructions come straight from the cook (hubby) in this house, not (me) the baker.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the giblets and discard them.  Rinse and dry the chicken.   Place the chicken in a large roasting pan; drizzle olive oil, honey, and red wine vinegar on top.  Crush 4 cloves of garlic and sprinkle onto the chicken.  

In a bowl, mix together seasoning consisting of 2 tbsp. dried basil, 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, 2 tsp. five pepper spice, 2 tsp. celery salt, and 1 tbsp. of dried cilantro.

Generously sprinkle seasoning over the chicken and into the roasting pan. 

Slice one medium onion, and chop the very top of a head of celery (including the leaves).

Cover the chicken with the vegetables.

roast chicken halloween decor hot dog roll 028

Fill the roasting pan 1/4 of the way full with water or chicken broth.  Place chicken in preheated oven and bake until internal temperature of chicken is 180 degrees.  For the size of the chicken hubby baked it took 2 hours.

Remove from oven and allow meat rest for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Slice and serve.

This chicken is baked just like I like it.  Moist inside and crusty on the outside – yum! 

What’s your favorite meat to roast?  Beef, pork, lamb, turkey, ham, or chicken?