Friday, January 29, 2010

Mama's Meatless Enchiladas

Growing up my mom rotated about 15-20 different dishes for dinner each night. My dad is a picky eater with a tempermental tummy, so the kids ate what he could eat too. One dish that I ALWAYS loved (and still do) is Enchiladas. Last night I tried my Momma's recipe out on Mr. Bear and boy did he love the big tasty enchiladas.

1 medium sized onion - diced
1 small green pepper - diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can kidney beans - drained and rinsed
1 can black beans - drained and rinsed
1 packet chili seasoning
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large block colby monteray jack cheese - shredded
6-10 tortillas

1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion and pepper in olive oil for 4 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, chili seasoning, and tomato sauce. Stir thoroughly so that the chili mix is absorbed. Cook for 45 minutes on med-low heat, stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a gravy ladle to transfer the chili from the saucepan to a a large baking dish. Reserve enough chili to cover the tortillas (about one scoop).
4. Lay one tortilla flat and sprinkle a handful of cheese down the middle. Roll the tortilla up like a burrito. Place the tortilla seamside down into the chili. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas - or until you have filled the dish. Cover the tortillas with the remaining chili. Sprinkle with cheese.
5. Spray one side of a large piece of tinfoil with non-stick spray. Cover the baking dish and bake covered for 20 minutes on 350 degrees F. Remove the tinfoil and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream, jalapenos, shredded lettuce, and salsa!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heart Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

In honor of the birthday of the children I nanny for's dad, today we baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. The family didn't have any real butter in their house, so I searched online for a recipe that would contain Smart Balance butter instead. Surprisingly I found one (on the Smart Balance website) that was not only easy, but also VERY tasty! Of course I altered the web recipe a little to using another recipe I found online... and my own suggestions.


1 cup Smart Balance® Butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Heat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a large bowl or mixer cream Smart Balance® Butter Blend Stick and sugars together until light and fluffy. Stir in egg one by one. Then add the vanilla and stir.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt together. Slowly add into butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and oats; the batter will be pretty wet.

Using a large spoon, drop batter on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until sides are firm and cookies color to a rich golden. Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tiny Kitchen's Crispy Southwestern Roll-Ups

I recently found this website - Tiny Kitchen - through a friend's page on fbook... she works for the company and I thought I'd check it out. WELL, I was delighted to see they had a whole slew of recipes listed and I was even more excited to discover they all looked very easy and tasty.

With the Superbowl coming up, people are always looking for dips and appetizers to make for their guests or to bring to a party. The TK's Crispy Southwestern Roll-Ups sound devine and I am definitely going to try in the near future (probably a baked version of this recipe though... I don't do fried foods!)

12 medium flour tortillas
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup cooked corn
1⁄2 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
Tabasco to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup shredded Monterey
Jack cheese
1/4 cup water
vegetable oil
Mix the chicken, peppers, corn, onion, cilantro, lime juice and Tabasco together.
Blend together the cornstarch and water.
Place chicken mixture and cheese on the left 1/3 of each tortilla.
Brush the edges of the tortilla with the cornstarch mixture.
Roll up the tortilla, tucking in the sides as you go along.
(It should look like an eggroll when it’s rolled up.)
Pour enough vegetable oil in a stock pot so it is about 2 inches deep and heat over medium-high. It’s hot enough when you drop a small piece of bread in it and it quickly turns brown. When the oil is hot enough cook the roll-ups for about 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel.
To serve, slice in half on a diagonal. Serve warm.

Avocado Dip

makes about 1 cup

1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Tabasco to taste
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup sour cream
2 cup of milk or cream

Mash the avocado with a fork until smooth. Mix in lime juice, cilantro, Tabasco, salt, sour cream and milk until well blended. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mrs. Bear's Sweet Sausage Shroom Lasagna

Even though my Italian mom and grandmother have given me lots of advice on how to make a fantastic lasagna, I take full credit for this lasagna recipe. I have perfected it and found what works the best over the past couple of years. I have lots of different variations of lasagna recipes, but this one has been a huge hit in the Bear's home this past week. It's an easy recipe to follow and I attribute that to the fact that I don't use homemade sauce!

The Bears are huge fans of this sauce... I know its not fresh, it comes out of a jar, and my grandma would point her finger and frown at me if she knew I did this... but we don't care! It's so good!

First step to a good lasagna... make sure to sauce the bottom of the baking dish so your noodles don't stick!
1 box of lasagna noodles
1 XL jar Chunky Ragu Tomato Onion Garlic Sauce
I dont know what size it is!
12 oz container reduced fat ricotta
1 large egg
1 huge block of mozzarella - grated
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of parsley
1 small can sliced mushrooms
5 sweet Italian sausages - casing removed
Plus 6 oz shredded mozzarella for topping
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put a large deep pot of water on the stove, lightly salt, and then turn up the heat. When it's boiling, carefully put the lasagna noodles in the pot. Cook until al dente, drain, then carefully drape the noodles over the edge of the pot. (If you want, you can drizzle the noodles with a little bit of olive oil so they do not stick to the pot).
2. In a skillet, cook the sweet Italian sausages over medium heat. I use a wooden spoon to break down the meat as it cooks through.
3. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley.
4. In a large baking dish, coat the bottom with some sauce. Cover the sauce with 3-4 noodles (depending on how wide your dish is). Spoon on some ricotta to the noodles. Add some crumbles of sausage and some mushrooms. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Then cover with a light layer of sauce.
5. Place down 3-4 more noodles, then repeat with the ricotta, sausage, mushroom, mozzarella, and sauce. Repeat until there are only 3-4 noodles left for the covering of the lasagna. I then spoon sauce over the noodles and apply a generous helping of mozzarella cheese.
6. Spray one side of a large piece of tin foil with non-stick baking spray. Cover the lasagna and bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and bake for 15 more minutes.
7. Allow the lasagna to settle and cool for atleast 10 minutes before digging in!
Finished Product:

Note: I only put sausage on one half of the lasagna b/c I can't eat it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mrs. Bear's Famous Chicken Pesto Pizza

**Note: This is my first chicken pesto pizza recipe I ever created. There are a few varations on my website**

I am not going to lie... Mr. Bear says that my pizza is the best pizza on this planet and he thinks I should open up a restaurant sells my creations. I hope you all enjoy this recipe, for I made it up one night to impress my then 'future hubs,' and I think that is what kept him around during wedding planning when bridezilla would show her face! I cook this pizza atleast once a week!
Premade Pizza Dough (I always use Trader Joe's white pizza dough)
Homemade Basil Pesto
Chicken Breast - boneless skinless
Fontina Cheese - cut up into small pieces
Olive Oil - evoo
Black Olives - sliced
Diced vidalia onions (this is only an option - I don't always use them)
Balsamic Vinegar (or your fav balsamic dressing)
Salt + Pepper
Garlic Salt (or raw garlic if you are watching the sodium, hehe)
Pizza Stone - or cookie sheet

1. First take the pizza dough out of its packaging, form it into a big ball, put it in a deep bowl, drizzle olive oil over the top, and cover the bowl with a dish towel. The dough needs to rise and it should take about 20 mins. At the same time - preheat your oven for 400-500 degrees F. The bestest pizza is cooked in a HOT oven.
2. While the dough is rising you can cook your chicken in a skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil - not too thick though or you will end up with oily fried chicken! If you are using the onions you can add them now. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and any other seasoning you like.
3. As the chicken begins to cook I start to cut it up, right in the skillet, into bite sized pieces. (I hate cutting raw chicken so I always wait until the outside is tough and white.) Drizzle a bit of balsamic oil over the cooking chicken (I use a capful). It should reduce and become syrupy and sweet. I usually don't overcook my chicken because it is going to bake in the oven. Once I do the cut test and see the inside is no longer pink I take it off of the burner and allow it to cool.
4. When the dough has risen, sprinkle some flour over the top of the dough ball and onto some counter space. You can roll your dough out - but I HIGHLY advise just using your hands to work it into whatever shape pan you plan on cooking the pizza on. I usually don't put anything on my pizza stone, but if you are using a cookie sheet you need to cover it with olive oil.
5. After you have shaped your dough and put it on its baking sheet, spoon on the basil pesto. This is another time when you can use as much or as little as you wish. If you go with a little bit of pesto, make sure to add some olive oil so the pizza remains moist.
6. Bake your pizza for 5-10 min so that the crust begins to form.
7. Remove the pizza and while it is still boiling hot arrange the toppings in this order: chicken, olives, cheese. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the crust if it is looking dry.
6. Put your pizza in the oven and cook it for 20 minutes. If you have never made pizza in your oven I recommend that you constantly check on it to make sure nothing is burning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ham's Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread Pudding

I was watching Ham on the Street on FLN and he made something INCREDIBLY amazing - something I need to try someday for sleepover guests (maybe my nephews?)...
(By George Duran)


4 cups whole milk
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of your favorite jelly, jam, or preserves
8 cups coarsely chopped bread crust, from 1 (20-ounce) loaf white bread (or the same amount of day-old bread)
Unsalted butter, for greasing pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by-9-inch baking pan.

Put 2 cups milk, the eggs, peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a blender and blend until smooth, taking care that the peanut butter is thoroughly emulsified into the mixture. Pour into a large bowl, then whisk in the remaining 2 cups milk. Stir in the bread and set aside to soak for about 10 minutes. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan.

Place spoonfuls of your favorite jelly, jam, or preserves around the bread mixture, pushing them in a bit with your spoon. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pudding is browned, puffed, and a little firm. Let cool. Cut into squares to serve.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paula Deen's Potato Soup

One of my mother in laws (I have two) always makes this soup for us when we visit for a long weekend. Mine did not turn out as well as her b/c I added way too much paprika (it turned the soup brown), didn't use bacon, and used reduced fat milk & butter! I think that the bacon and fattening dairy would have definitely made the soup a big more tasty.


8 slices Hickory Smoked Bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 chicken bouillon cubes, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated - reserve 1/2 cup for topping
Salt & pepper to taste (optional)

1. In a Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp; remove and crumble, reserve drippings.
2. Cook onion in bacon drippings until tender; stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. 3. Gradually add milk to the dutch oven; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Dissolve the chicken boullion cubes in the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, then add it to the soup. Put in the cubed potatoes, parsley, bacon; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese. Cook on low heat until the soup is thick and the potatoes are soft!

Serving Suggestions
Garnish with cheese, bacon and fresh parsley.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina ala Giada

I made a version of this recipe last winter for Mr. Bear and I one cold windy night. Pastina has been a favorite comfort food of mine since I was a little girl - definitely ate a lot of it whenever I was home sick from school (think lots of butter and plain pastina). I used to call it the Tiny Pasta With the Stars.

I still eat Pastina quite often, however I like to jazz it up with different kinds of veggies, spices, and sauces. Here is Giada De Laurentiis's Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina - looks perfect for a chilly January night!

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Recipe from Samantha

Samantha's Spicey Baked Macaroni

I think it is safe to say that all of the girls in my family know how to cook. We are all from Italian descent (aka my Grandmother mom's mom). My cousin, Samantha, sent me a text photo of a tasty looking dish earlier today and I just had to share her recipe. She took a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and made it her own (sounds exactly like something I would do!). My cousin is my mom's sister's daughter and more like a sister than anything! I love her so much and can't wait for her to come visit us next month! Without furter adeau: Samantha's Spicy Baked Macaroni!

3/4 lb whole wheat elbow pasta
EVOO- enough to coat saute pan
1 onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomato, with juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms, quatered (or pre-sliced)
1 bag frozen cut leaf spinach
1/4 cup romano, plus 1/3 cup
1/4 cup parmigano reggiano, plus 1/3 cup
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
12 oz mozzarella, cubed (I also used 8 small fresh mozz balls)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (i've also used up to 1 tsp to add some extra kick)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
butter or margarine- enough to grease baking pan plus about 2 tbsp to dot the top

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Boil water and add pasta- cook until al dente.
3. In saute pan/skillet over medium heat add oil, mushroom, onion and garlic- cook about 7 mins or until onion is golden. Add tomatoes, spinach, crushed red pepper- cook 5 more minutes.
4. Mix 1/4 c romano and 1/4 c parm with bread crumbs. Grease casserole dish/baking pan and coat the bottom and sides of the greased pan with half the bread crumb mixture.
5. In large bowl mix the veggie mixture, pasta, nutmeg, and the remaining parm/romano cheeses. spoon into prepped baking pan. Top with remaining bread crumb mixture and dot the top with remaining butter. Bake until golden brown ~30-40 mins.
ENJOY!! :)

Thank you my lovey for the awesome recipe. I can't wait to try it for myself. Love you!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bertollis Makes It Easy

One of Mr. Bear's FAVORITE meals is baked penne with vodka sauce. I always use penne and Bertoli's Vodka Sauce, but the extras often vary: chicken, olives, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, meatballs, and so on. Last night I whipped up a very SIMPLE broccoli, olive, pasta bake.
8oz shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 jar Bertolli Vodka Sauce
1/2 can medium Black Pitted Olives
2 small heads of Broccoli
Olive Oil
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
1 box Penne
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with olive oil. Add the minced garlic. Heat the olive oil and garlic on low-medium.
2. Roughly chop the broccoli and add it to the skillet. Using a rubber spatula, move the broccoli around so that it does not burn. If it starts to stick, add a tablespoon of water to the pan. Keep the broccoli cooking on low-med heat.
3. Boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Add the penne. Cook 10-12 minutes. Drain.
4. Pour the cooked pasta in a large baking dish. Add the broccoli and olives. Cover the pasta with 80% Vodka sauce (reserve the rest for after the dish is complete). Sprinkle a good amount of salt and pepper over the pasta.
5. Using a slotted spoon, mix the pasta, broccoli, olives, and sauce together. Cover the pasta with 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve alongside a fresh salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine. ENJOY!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mrs. Bear's Meataballa Sub

Here is a recipe from my old kitchen:

Cook some diced green pepper, yellow onion, and garlic in olive oil.

Add a can of diced tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and dried onion flakes. I let this mixture simmer for a good 30 minutes until it was thick and delicious.

Use 1lb ground chuck, 1/2 diced green pepper, 1/2 diced yellow onion, 1 tspn garlic salt, a splash of worchestershire sauce, a tablespoon of jar sauce, handful of italian breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and oregano. Mr. Bear mixed it all up while I tended to the sauce. Then I formed it into balls and cooked them for 20 minutes in 400degreeF oven.

I flipped them over and cooked the meataballas for 5 more minutes so they were extra crispy.

Hollowed out one end of a loaf Italian bread, sliced in half, added some of my pepper tomato concoction, meatballs, and white american cheese. Then I baked this baby on my pan of love until the cheese was ooey gooey.

After adding a little more sauce, I sliced the sandwich in two and let Mr. Bear go to town.

Mr. Bear said it was the BEST meatball sandwich he has ever had! Normally I make my meatballs with ground pork, one egg, and a few other spices, but this time I didn't have those ingredients. They were moist and oh so delicious (I may have sampled one or two despite my tummy's hate for red meat!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Breakfast Strata

Both of my mother-in-laws are known for whipping up a pretty awesome breakfast casserole when they have the kids in town. Granted I usually cannot eat them (no offense MOLs - you know it's the meat and not your cooking), I have always wanted to make one. SO in honor of our first visitors this past weekend I attempted my first breakfast casserole - a.k.a. Breakfast Strata - which Mr. Bear kindly informed me was when there is ham in it. Here is my adaptation of the Paula Deen Breakfast Casserole my MOL makes:
8 slices whole wheat bread - broken up
6 eggs
2 c milk
3 dashes hot sauce
1 c cubed cooked ham
1 bag shredded mixed Cheddar Cheeses
6 leftover pieces of Roasted Asparagus (optional)
2 teaspoons each Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the dish with the broken up bread.
2. In a large bowl, scramble the eggs with the milk, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.
3. Cover the bread in the dish with ham (if you can't eat meat like me, only put it on one side - and the asparagus on the other).
4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and ham.
5. Sprinkle the bag of cheese over the bread, ham, and eggs.
6. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Enjoy with fresh salsa or more hot sauce!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Visit Menu Part 2

Cucumber Tomato Salad
(Serves 4)
My sister's best friend's dad used to make a version of this salad for us as a healthy snack when we were younger. It's light, simple, and even better when served with a piece of crusty bread!

1 diced Cucumber
3 diced Tomotoes
1 can medium Black pitted Olives
8oz crumbled Feta Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl.
2. Coat the salad with olive oil and 2 capfuls of balsamic. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt to your liking.
3. Chill in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes before serving. It tastes best when cold!

PTP Stuffed Chicken
(serves 4)
4 Chicken Breasts
4 pieces of thinly sliced Prosciutto
4 teaspoons Thyme (fresh or dried)
4 pieces of sliced Provolone
1/2 small Shallot - diced
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 toothpicks
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat.
2. Cut a pocket into the side of one chicken breast. Sprinkle one teaspoon of thyme in pocket. Add one piece of prosciutto and one piece of provolone. Close the 'pocket' of the chicken and secure with two toothpicks.
3. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes on each side.
4. Place the chicken a shallow baking dish and repeat steps 2-3 for the other three chicken breasts. Pour the leftover oil and shallots over the chicken breasts and bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.
5. Serve with roasted asparagus (see quick recipe below)

Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch Asparagus - stems cut off
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil. Spread out the asparagus, drizzle olive oil over the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Meal Fit for Your First Guests

Last night my sister and her boyfriend became the first visitors at the Bear's new apartment! In honor of their visit and loooong drive I put together a meal that was not too heavy - not too time-consuming to make - and very delicious!

Artichoke Spinach Crab Dip
Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad
Chicken w/ Prosciutto and Provolone
Roasted Asparagus

I don't want to be rude towards my guests and spend all their time here on my computer, so over the next fews days I will post the recipes to the menu.
Artichoke Spinach Crab Dip w/ Garlic Toasts
1 bag box frozen spinach - thawed
2 cans fancy crab meat - drained
1 can artichoke hearts - broken down in a food processor
8oz reduced fat cream cheese - room temp.
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
3 tablespoons lite mayo
3 shakes of Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons each Salt and Pepper
2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
2 cups shredded mixed cheeses - (cheddar, monteray, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking dish (you pick the shape and size) with non-stick spray.
2. Literally combine EVERYTHING, but the cheese, in a huge mixing bowl. Spoon it all into your baking dish.
3. Cover the mixture with the cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Serve with sliced toasted French bread with garlic butter spread
(or butter, garlic salt, pepper).
**I bought the pre-made garlic butter spread at the grocery store. Sliced the French Bread into tiny bite sized pieces, smeared some butter on the little guys, put them under the broiler for 3 minutes, and served alongside my dip!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Finally...a blog where I can talk about cooking!

After many suggestions from family and friends, I decided to start a cooking blog! I am always talking about food on Think Happy Thoughts so much that it is about time all of my food chatter had its own domain. If you don't read my other blog (which I highly recommend) than you don't know anything about me other than what it says in my About Me blurb.

That's me... the day after my wedding... Wanna get to know me? Let's start here with some facts:
*My name is Mrs. Bear. I am a twenty-something, freckly, Italian-Irish gal from New England.
*I am married to Mr. Bear - a tall, dashing, Southern boy who stole my heart when we met on a cruise in 2003. He is my biggest fan and food critic. I love him more than anything in the whole wide world - even food.
*We were married in Destin, Florida on 10.17.09 and my other blog talks all about our engagement, wedding, and life as newlyweds.

*We just moved from Atlanta, GA to Maryland. Neither of us have ever lived here, but we are super excited to try all different kinds of crab dishes - cakes, dips, pastas, salads, you name it, we'll try it. We love crab!
(Ex. See my version of crab artichoke dip below - I'll post that recipe tomm!)

*I love to cook as much as possible. If I was a millionaire that is all I would do - make up recipes, cook for my loved ones, and fatten everyone up! I'd probably cook for strangers too. Not in a restaurant or anything though - a business would be too much work.
*I have an obsession with food - talking about it, reading about it, watching shows about it. Ask my family - I know that they find it quite annoying that whenever I call I inquire about what they have eaten or plan on eating that day.
* I take lots of pictures of the food that I eat and cook. I know I look nuts when I whip out a camera in a restaurant but LOTS of people do it... more than you would ever know. Google it.

*I like to read my cookbooks from front to back, over and over again. Not so I can familiarize myself with the recipes, but so I can use them as inspiration for my own dishes.
*I rarely follow a recipe step-by-step - I always think I can make it better.
*I like to cook meals of all kinds - even ones that I can't eat.
*What can't I eat? I can't eat red meat, fried or fatty foods, and anything high in dairy.
*I started cooking when I was in high school. My first big dish was Clam Chowder for the guests at my high school graduation in June! It was a hit and the pot was scraped clean before I could even get a bowl.
*My grandmother is Italian and loves to cook. Sadly she is very old and has dementia, so she doesn't cook as often as she used to. Every time I call her I tell her what I am making for dinner and she tells me that I am JUST like her - I love to cook. I will never tell her that she has told me that already. I love her to death.

*My mom always asks what I am cooking for dinner every day - and even though I get irritated, I ask her the same question in return. My mom is amazing - she is the reason I started cooking and always a source for meal ideas. I don't know what I would do without her in my life. Isn't she gorgeous?

*I was raised in a family where the woman cooks dinner every day. My dad and sister still call my mom on her way home from work to ask what she is going to make. I always told myself that I wouldn't be the kind of wife who stresses over feeding her family every night and that sometimes it's okay for takeout - but I have already become that wife (and I've only been a wife for 2.5 months).
*All of the women in my life believe feeding their family is so important - including my two new mom-in-laws! They are both great cooks as well and I am constantly asking for their recipes so I can feed Mr. Bear his favorite childhood dishes.

*Food makes me happy. Cooking makes me even happier. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a smile on someone's face after you've filled their belly with a delicious meal!*

I hope you all will tune in to see what I am cooking tomorrow night for dinner - my sister and her boyfriend are coming to visit me and the hubs in our new apartment!

P.S. That's me and my sister. I am teaching her how to be a great cook this year!