Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Happy Friday everyone!! Who’s excited for the weekend?? (Raising hand emoji inserted here.) We have a busy weekend ahead of us. One of Chris’s fraternity brothers is getting married Saturday & it’s always fun to get together with all of his friends. They seem to think they’re still in college so all of us girlfriends & wives-to-be get a good laugh out of making fun of them.

Saturday we will be driving up to Westlake Village for the wedding & then shacking up at a friend’s house in the Valley. A mini getaway is super needed, even if it is just for a night. Then Sunday night we are going to see Jason Aldean which I am super excited for!! Last summer we went to see him at Irvine Meadows & I talked Chris into leaving before the concert even started. I am just not really a fan of those concerts were you are fighting for a spot & everyone is pushing each other. I think I even broke a sandal at that show. RIP.
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Almond Vanilla Biscotti

Is there any cookies better than Christmas cookies? The answer is just plain old no. There is nothing better, or more Italian, than a big old tray of cookies after dinner with coffee, espresso, & a little Sambuca or Limoncello. Ahh I love Italian family dinners.

One of my aunts does most of the cookie baking during the holidays. I think a lot of families have one person who is the cookie connoisseur, & she is definitely ours. A few years ago she made all of her nieces a little cookie cookbook & it is one of my favorite gifts I have gotten. It is such a treasure to have all of her cookies together in one place.

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Now I have been pretty honest… I not the best baker. But one of my 30 goals by 30 was to become a decent baker. I feel like everyone needs to have a little something in their back pocket as far as desserts. A dessert that doesn’t come from a box. So this past holiday season I decided I was going to perfect a Almond Vanilla Biscotti.

So I made them… probably four times. My coworkers loved them, our friends loved them & Chris’s family loved them.

Baking a single cookie three times can be a little intimidating. I wasn’t sure how it as going to come out. Hell I can barely cook a sugar cookie once & have it come out right. But these came out amazing! This weekend we are going home to Connecticut & my girlfriends & I are getting together for a little girls brunch. I defiantly plan on making these & seeing what everyone on the east coast thinks of them. Maybe I will even run some over to my aunts so I can have the professional herself judge them. Wish me luck!

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½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰ and lay parchment paper over a cookie sheet.
2. In a large bowl mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time and beat into mixture.
3. Stir in almond and vanilla extract.
4. Stir in flour and baking powder until mixed throughout. Do not over mix. Add in sliced almonds.
5. Lightly flour your hands and divide the mixture in half. Shape the dough into two 10 in long rolls. Place the rolls e5 inches apart from each other on the cookie sheet. Flatten until they are about 3 inches wide.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
7. With a sharp serrated knife, cut the rolls into ½ inch slices. Around the slices on the same cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.
8. Flip the cookies over and bake another 5 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee.

Twice Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

One of my favorite smells is my mom frying at her stove. I could be in my room with the door shut as a teenager and whether it was chicken cutlets, or eggplant, I could sniff that out from a mile away. Okay sounds a little crazy, but seriously, it is one of my favorite smells from when I was growing up.

I would run out to the kitchen to see what she was whipping up. Usually when she fries things she has the lights off and the fan and windows open, no matter what time of year it is in cold Connecticut. She is not a fan of a grease filled kitchen. I would grab a bite of whatever she had sitting on a plate covered in paper towels and she would whack my hand and tell me not to eat it all or to get a glass of water to suppress my appetite before dinner.
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Ooh good ol’ mom.

Me on the other hand, I have tried numerous times to recreate her fried creations. I’ve cut the eggplant thing, I’ve cut it thick. I breaded the chicken in different ways, I left the chicken with little to no breading. Nothing ever is the same. So instead of trying to recreate the recipe for you guys and it just not be right… I went in a newer, healthier direction.

I ditched the oils, ditched the frying pan. Basically I ditched everything but the eggplant in my Twice Baked Eggplant Parmigiana. I found the idea on Pinterest, of course, but used my mom’s ingredients for her eggplant parm. In the past year she has become obsessed with panko bread crumbs so of course to add a little extra crunch I used them, but back when I was a teenager Italian bread crumbs would suffice.

Try it out, enjoy the eggplant parm, sans oil and let me know what you think.

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1 medium sized eggplant
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Dried oregano
2 eggs
¼ lb mozzarella cheese
28 oz tomato sauce
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease cookie sheet. While preheating slice eggplant into 1/8 inch slices.
2. Beat eggs in bowl adding a splash of water for consistency and pour panko and dried oregano onto separate plate to keep nearby.
3. Dip each slice of eggplant onto egg mixture and immediately into the panko crumbs. Flip to coat the eggplant on both sides as well as around the edges. Place directly onto the cookie sheet. Be careful to not move eggplant around the cookie sheet as the panko will fall off.
4. Continue assembly line until all eggplant is coated and placed on the cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes flipping once in the middle.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool until you are able to touch the eggplant. Do not turn off oven.
7. Layer the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tomato sauce. Place on top a layer of eggplant followed by a light layer of cheese. (Cheese will melt so allow space between chunks of mozzarella.)
8. Continue until all eggplant is in the baking pan. Top with a layer of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle parmigiana cheese on top.
9. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted throughout.
10. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving for the cheeses to settle.

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Frozen Krispy Treat

Let me preface this post with “I am not a baker!” I don’t enjoy baking, I don’t have the patience for baking, and it stresses me out because I can’t taste what I am making along the way. So when I found this recipe on Chef in Training and I saw nothing had to go in the oven I was all in!

I’m also not a huge sweet person, but to my surprise, this dessert is jam packed with sugar but I loved it. The vanilla ice cream is the perfect match to break up the crazy amount of sugar each bite has.

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A few weeks ago Chris’s dad’s side of his family came own for the weekend and we brought them to Disneyland. The second day they were here they had a little pool party at our place while I was at work so I premade my Taco Salad and Chris grilled hotdogs and hamburgers. For dessert the Krispy Snickers snack was the perfect things to have after day at the pool.

I chose to use Snickers on top of the Krispy bars, but you can really use anything on top. Carmel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top would be great or even crushed nuts and chocolate flakes. For kids a fun colored cereal would be cute.

As the summer winds down we are going to be having a lot less days at the pool but it is always great to have a simple go to snack that you can just whip up and throw in the freezer for later. We kept ours wrapped up in parchment paper with a lid on the baking tin for about a week and the cereal held it’s freshness and it still tasted great. I truly enjoy this dessert and hope you can find a fun time you try it out also.  Signature

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½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups krispy cereal
2 Snickers bars, chopped
½ gallon vanilla ice cream
Ice cream toppings of your choice

1. Allow butter and ice cream to sit out for about 30 minutes to soften. Mix together butter, brown sugar, and cereal in a bowl using a soft spatula.
2. Line a 2 inch deep 9×13 baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the mixture across the bottom of the tray. Pat it down with the rubber spatula.
3. Layer vanilla ice cream over mixture. The softer, the easier it is to smooth over the mixture. If it is too hard still it will pick up the krispies when you try to smooth it out.
4. Chop Snickers bars with a sharp knife and sprinkle on top of the ice cream.
5. Freeze and cut into squares when ready to serve.

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Baked Tomato Mac and Cheese

It rained!! Rain was falling from the skies in California! I am so excited. My car is excited, the grass is excited, the avocados and oranges are excited! Everyone is excited! Haha

When I was living back east rain was nothing but a pain in the butt! It meant I had to pull out my umbrella, the streets were going to get dirty, and my poor little car would have water marks on it. Now, living through this crazy drought the west coast has been going through for the past three years, everyone gets so excited when it rains.

We drove up to Los Angeles to spend the weekend with Chris’s family and during our drive up the storm rolled into downtown L.A. It was pretty cool to be downtown during a lighting storm. People were pulling over and recording the thunder and lightning with their phones and taking pictures of the lighting bolts.

This was actually only the second time since I moved to California that I have heard thunder and I think it was my first time seeing lightning. It definitely made me miss the summer storms back east. A warm rain shower was always the best, being able to go to bed with the window open and hearing the sound of the rain outside.

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So now that you have the So Cal weather report, here is some blog news. I am finally starting to dive into Bloglovin’. What do you all think about it? Is it a good tool to find others and have readers find you? Follow me and let me know what you think about the site. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This recipe I got from my cousin’s grandmother. I honestly can’t tell you the first time I had this but I remember as a child having it a lot. I don’t even know where. So last year I texted my cousin and said I needed the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when she sent me it and it was even easier than I thought it would be. It sounds a little weird but it’s a great homey mac and cheese recipe. Enjoy!

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1 lb elbow macaroni
28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
½ stick unsalted butter
12-16 slices of white American cheese

1.  Boil pasta to time on box. Pre heat oven to 350˚.
2.  Spray 8 x 8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray and layer ¼ of macaroni along the bottom of the pan. Top with an even layer of cheese.4 slices should cover all the pasta. Squeeze 1-2 tomatoes, depending on size, on top of the cheese breaking apart the tomato and allowing the juices to cover the cheese. Place tablespoon sized slices of butter on top.
3.  Continue process until all pasta is used. Top later should have a layer of cheese. Pour remaining juices from tomato can on top.
4.  Cover with foil and bake 40-45 minutes, until edges are bubbly.