Pretzel Bark

I had some items in the pantry and was itching to make a quick holiday treat. I had vanilla flavored almond bark and thought what is easier than that? Really nothing. It’s so fun and such a nice treat to give to others around the holidays. We made it with some hot cocoa and enjoyed it on our visit to a holiday light show.

While taste testing our holiday bark, we realized that in every bite we wanted pretzels. The salty crunch with the bite of the sweet was so yummy. We picked each piece apart to get a bite with pretzel. So the recipe below will be adjusted to how we like it, full of pretzels! It’s an easier version of the chocolate covered pretzel! Keep in mind, you can add anything you’d like that you have in your pantry. Almonds, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc…

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Pretzel Bark

Ingredients

  • 1 package of vanilla flavored almond bark
  • 1 bag of salted pretzels 🥨

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. Put a good amount of pretzels in a sealed storage bag. Smash the pretzels with a wooden spoon to get little pieces.
  3. Spread a layer of the crushed pretzels onto the wax paper.
  4. Heat the almond bark in a saucepan over low heat until it is melted.
  5. Pour the melted almond bark over the layer of pretzels.
  6. Pour another layer of crushed pretzels over the melted almond bark.
  7. Store in the fridge until the almond bark is hardened.
  8. Break off pieces and enjoy!


Some other sweet treats…

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

Annie’s Crumb Cake

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Aunt June’s Cream Cheese Cookies

My Aunt June has been making these cream cheese cookies for years. She is a pro. They are so delicious and the perfect size that you can just keep popping them in your mouth! I guess that’s really not a good thing, but it really is! You can triple the recipe and store them in the freezer.

Warning: They taste even better right out of the freezer and that can be a dangerous thing!

I know there are so many cookie recipes out there around the holidays, but these are the ones I’d choose to make over and over again.

Happy Baking!

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Aunt June's Cream Cheese Cookies

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of salted butter, softened
  • 3 oz. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon
  • Optional toppings: Mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, preserves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the softened butter and cream cheese together.
  3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Mix until combined. (If you feel the batter is too hard, add a little more cream cheese. If you feel the batter is too loose, add a little flour)
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Fill your cookie press with the cookie dough and press out your favorite shapes.
  7. Top with the topping you prefer.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes. (This is the tricky part, since everyone’s ovens are different. Keep your eye on them. They should not brown. The second they start to brown on the edges you can take them out.)
  9. Cool, if you can wait and enjoy!


If you enjoyed this recipe, you won’t want to miss these…

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

Blizzard Soup

My sister Jen has been making this lentil and sausage soup for a while.  She was stuck home in a blizzard, so I was finally able to get her to write down the recipe for me.

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Jen and Sal

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Lentil and sausage Soup

By Jennifer Stagnitta

This is my Blizzard Lentil and Sausage Soup.  It is a variation of my lentil soup, my friend Stephanie’s recipe and Carrabba’s Spicy Lentil soup, which we all love.  Hope you enjoy!! ☺️

 

Ingredients

  • 1 and a 1/2 cups of lentils or mixed beans with lentils (believe it or not, when I went to go get lentils at Uncle Guiseppe’s they were all out of lentils because a storm was on its way. So instead, I got mixed beans with lentils in it. You can use either.)
  • 1 lb. of Ground sausage(out of the casing)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • one onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 – 8 cups of water
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • one small can of tomato sauce(optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot brown the sausage. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Remove from the pot and drain.
  3. In the same pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until tender. Towards the end add the garlic and saute for one more minute.
  4. Return the sausage to the pot with the vegetables.
  5.  Add the 4 cups of water and the chicken broth.
  6. Add the lentils.

It takes a long time for the soup to thicken.  Around 2 hours or so.  This will become a very hearty soup.  While its cooking or towards the end you can add more water and the can of tomato sauce to thin it out.  Serve with grated cheese on top and warm, crispy Italian bread. 

If you are interested in the slow cooker version click here.

Some other yummy soups…

Stove Top Chicken Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Cheesecake Bites

This is the perfect dessert to make for that special someone in your life. They will appreciate it and your love will shine through. I got this recipe from my mom’s recipe book. She used to make these when she entertained. I loved them as a kid and I love them now. This is one of those simple recipes that looks like you spent hours preparing.

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Cheesecake Bites

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • Mini cupcake liners
  • 2 (8 oz. packages of cream cheese), leave out to soften
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Nabisco MINI Nilla Wafers
  • Optional Toppings: mini chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, etc…

I whipped up a batch of homemade whipped cream, without the cinnamon, vanilla and sugar. Just plain whipped cream. I added a dollop to the top of each cheesecake bite. My favorite topping is a can of cherry pie filling. I scooped out one cherry and placed it on top of the whipped cream. It presents beautifully for Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve or any special holiday. 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill the mini cupcake pan with the cupcake liners.
  3. Put one MINI Nilla Wafer in the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  4. Add the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.
  6. Carefully top each wafer with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely.
  9. Top with your favorite toppings!

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

I’ve been eating homemade chicken soup since I’m a little girl. My grandma used to make it and freeze it in containers. My mom did the same thing.  My mom’s note:  She used to make it the day before, because overnight the fat settles on the top.  She would scoop off the fat, heat and serve.  

The smell and taste of homemade chicken soup is so comforting, but not everyone can sit around and wait for the chicken to boil, then shred it and boil the bones for another hour. We are busy and can’t sit around cooking all day. I’ve adjusted my mom’s chicken soup and made it a little easier, but still soooooo delicious. It is my son Dominick’s favorite meal. I have a couple of secret ingredients that make it extra special. I don’t usually have enough leftovers to freeze it for another night!

***My posts contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.***

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • Whole chicken cut up(I buy it already cut up)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 5 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 tiny cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 bag of egg noodles
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • Grated pecorino Romano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Saute the carrots, celery, and onion in EVOO and a little bit of butter until tender.(This is one of the secrets to making the slow cooker version as tasty as the regular one-butter!) Towards the end, add the garlic and saute for one or two more minutes. Throw in the parsley and remove from the heat.
  2. Place veggies in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the spices: salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and turmeric. (Turmeric is one of the other secrets. It gives a great color to the soup and it’s a natural anti-inflammatory!)
  4. Mix the veggies and spices together and place the chicken on top. Cover the chicken with 4 cups of water and 4 cups of chicken broth.
  5. Set on high for 6 hours.
  6. Carefully remove the chicken pieces and the bay leaf.
  7. Remove and discard all the bones. Shred the chicken. Put the chicken back in the slow cooker. Add the two tiny cans of tomato sauce. (That is the last secret you NEED to know about. My sister Ali said that is what her mother in law does and honestly it really makes it better!)
  8. Set on high for 1 more hour.
  9. Meanwhile, boil the noodles. Drain and set aside.
  10. Place some noodles in the bottom of a bowl. Place chicken soup on top. Grate a little pecorino Romano cheese on top and enjoy!

Other soups you need to try…

Spinach Tortellini Soup

Slow Cooker Blizzard Soup

Stove Top Chicken Soup

Mashed Potatoes

This is the first year ever I have pulled the sweet potatoes from our Thanksgiving menu and added mashed potatoes instead! And I am really excited. I was kind of feeling bored of the sweet potatoes. I want mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.  Right?!

Mashed potatoes are heaven. They are creamy and delicious. You can add just a few ingredients and keep them simple or fancy them up. My boys like them indented in the middle with a pool of gravy👌.

This a basic recipe for mashed potatoes. Feel free to add your favorite ingredient…

You can add truffle salt, roasted garlic or cheese!

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Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of potatoes(gold)
  • 1 cup of half and half(you can use milk to keep it lighter or heavy cream to make it creamier)
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter(you can add your own salt to your liking)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Scrub the potatoes good.
  2. Peel and quarter the potatoes.
  3. Cover them in a large pot with salted water.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook until tender when you touch them with a fork.
  5. Drain and put back in the pot.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the butter and the half and half in a small pot until melted.
  7. Pour the butter and half and half over the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Season with enough salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Enjoy.

If you are looking for other Thanksgiving Day recipes here you go:

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

Butternut Squash Soup

Apple Cake🍎

Grandma’s Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing is special to most people because it is what they grew up on. It is what makes them think of Thanksgiving. Some people serve it on the side and call it dressing. Others stuff it in the cavity of the turkey and call it stuffing. We call it stuffing but serve it on the side of the turkey. Oh, and it doesn’t have any bread in it! So, we are all confused! 🤷🏻‍♀️

This stuffing is extra special. It is special because it is THAT good, but it is also special because my Grandma was a special lady. She started this tradition and made it every year. Then my mom and aunt did the same and now my sisters, cousins and I are also following in those footsteps. Honestly, it can be served without the turkey and we would all be happy. None of our Thanksgiving’s are complete without it. 

If there is one recipe you follow of mine, let it be this one. We have all changed it a little on our own throughout the years, but this is how I have come to make it.  

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with full bellies and lots of leftovers.

I’m thankful for the women in my family that set the traditions that made the holidays feel so special. I hope I can do the same for my family.

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Grandma's Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 4-5 pounds of ground beef(not lean)
  • 2-3 cups of white rice, uncooked
  • 4 packages of baby bella mushrooms (8 oz. each)
  • 10 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a big bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
  • at least 12 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions


This should be made the day before Thanksgiving.  

  1. In a medium pot cook the rice according to the directions on the box. Use chicken broth in place of the water. 
  2. When the rice is finished cooking, set aside.
  3.  In a large skillet heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the celery and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender. Set aside when done.
  4. In a medium pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook down until all of their juices are gone and the mushrooms are browned. Set aside when done.    
  5. In a large skillet, add the beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until there is no longer any pink left. Drain the fat and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, add the beef. Then add the rice and combine. 
  7. Add the rest of the veggies and the parsley. Season with more salt and pepper. Stir until combined. 
  8. Cover tightly and store in the fridge.
  9. I would recommend taking it out of the fridge about an hour before baking. That will cut down on the cooking time. 
  10. Preheat the oven to bake 425.
  11. Place the stuffing in 2 separate baking dishes so that there is a thin layer of stuffing. That will also cut down on the cooking time.   
  12. Pour about a cup of chicken broth in each baking dish. You want enough to moisten it, but not too much that it is soupy. 
  13. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until heated.
  14. Every half hour or so, remove from the oven, stir and add chicken broth as needed. 
  15. Season with salt and pepper if needed and enjoy!


Other Thanksgiving dishes that you’ll want to add to your table…

Mashed Potatoes

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

Butternut Squash Soup

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

Apple Cake🍎

 

“Crowd Pleasing” Rice Pudding

So, you either love rice pudding or you don’t! I am one of the people that loves rice pudding. But I didn’t start eating it until I was an adult. I was missing out!

My mother-in-law has a big family. She has 3 sisters and 4 brothers! When they get together they have to make large amounts. There are favorites that they all have been making throughout the years. This rice pudding recipe is one of them. It is a crowd pleaser and it is delicious! My mother-in-law got this recipe from a friend of a friend 25 years ago and has been making it ever since. I love recipes from years ago that use such simple ingredients. I love to follow the recipes and think about the women who were making it back then. So much has changed, but so little has changed.

This recipe can feed 10 people and it is easy, but you have to set aside an hour that you are not distracted. You can’t let it boil over, so you have to keep stirring. Before you begin, make sure the kids are asleep or busy  and you have the time. 

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RP

Crowd Pleasing Rice Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk plus 2 more cups
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of long grain rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a large pot combine the 1/2 gallon of milk, sugar and rice.
  2. Cook on medium/high heat. Once it comes to a boil, you will have to constantly stir to prevent it from burning and sticking to the bottom. I had to adjust the temperature frequently if it was boiling too much or too little.
  3. Continue stirring and cooking for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 more cups of milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. You will need to temper the ingredients in the bowl by adding a small amount of the hot rice mixture to the cold egg mixture to warm it a little. (If you add the cold egg mixture to the hot rice mixture all at one, the eggs will scramble and you don’t want that.)
  6. Once you’ve tempered the egg mixture, add it all to the pot and bring it to a boil while stirring constantly. Once it is boiling, remove it from the heat and pour into a large bowl or serving dish.
  7. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
  8. Cover and refrigerate.

NOTE:  This is best when made the day before. 


If you like this recipe you will love some of Pat’s other family favorites:

Annie’s Crumb Cake

Irish Soda Bread

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, the traditions we pass on from year to year, and the weather in Florida is perfect.

I usually do my food shopping and cooking for several days before. Once the cooking begins, it feels like it never ends. I always say it’s one of the hardest holidays to have because of all the dishes to make, but it is so worth it!

This recipe for butternut squash soup is not a tradition. It hasn’t been passed on from generation to generation, but it should be passed on. It is the perfect appetizer for a small crowd on Thanksgiving Day. I have made it a couple of times on Thanksgiving and everyone enjoyed it. It is really simple to make, healthy and so good! I usually serve this with roasted asparagus and stuffed mushrooms.

Traditions can be started at anytime. I love looking back on the pictures below. This was the first time I started the tradition of butternut squash soup. I remember it like it was yesterday! My sister and her husband were visiting from New York and both of my grandmas were still with us. We laughed the whole day, especially since my Mom’s mom and my Dad’s mom bickered all day. And when I served the soup to my 100 year old Grandma she laughed and said, “What is this sh**?”

I am so thankful for those fun memories.

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen(I’ve changed very little since it is perfection!)

***My posts contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.***

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons for extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 2-3 pounds of butternut squash(you can buy it in the produce section of your supermarket already peeled and chopped)
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • grated pecorino romano cheese

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, sage, 1 teaspoon of salt and season with pepper.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes until tender.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.
  5. With a slotted spoon, take 3 tomatoes from the can and place in the pot.
  6. Break up with a wooden spoon and cook for about 7 more minutes.
  7. Add the squash and the rest of the salt.
  8. Cook until the squash is tender(about 15 minutes).
  9. Add the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of the sauce that is in the can of tomatoes.
  10. Simmer and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  11. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  12. Use the immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  13. Stir in the vinegar(which is the perfect addition to this soup!)
  14. Ladle into individual bowls and top with grated cheese.

BTW, this can be made a day before and heated when ready to serve!


If you like this recipe you will love:

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

Apple Cake🍎

Broccoli Rabe

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

So, what makes a pumpkin pie a colonial pumpkin pie? I have no idea!

I do know that this is an old recipe. Maybe that is what makes it a colonial pumpkin pie… I got this recipe from my mom’s recipe book.

I did make some changes. This recipe called for fresh pumpkin; I used organic canned pumpkin. It also called for a homemade pumpkin pie shell; I used a frozen pre-made pie crust. I do plan on tackling that pie crust and sharing. So stay tuned for that…

I usually make a pumpkin pie per the directions on the back of a can. And I always loved it. So, I wondered how this could be any better…

Oh man. It was on a different level. This colonial pumpkin pie was rich and delicious. You must put this on your menu for Thanksgiving Day. I did happen to whip up some homemade cinnamon whipped cream and spread it all over the top of the pie. That is a must as well!

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Colonial Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin(I used Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon of all spice
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, and molasses together.
  3. Mix the eggs in with the other ingredients.
  4. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk. Whisk until all the ingredients are mixed well.
  5. Pour mixture slowly into your pie crust.  Place on a baking sheet in case any pie mix spills over.
  6. Cover the edges of the pie crust with a pie crust shield or aluminum(Remove after 30 minutes)
  7. Bake for 40-50 minute or until done.
  8. Cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Spread a thick layer of cinnamon whipped cream over the top and dig in!


If you love this recipe you must try these…

Strawberry Apple Pie🍓🍏🥧

Sweet Cherry 🍒 Pie 🥧

Dump Cake