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How to boil a lobster

From time to time, my sister, brother-in-law, and me like to have fancy pants dinner.  Like a couple of weekends ago.  I happened to see that Filet Mignon was on sale at Wholey’s and when I suggested a fancy pants dinner, my sister told me she had just been thinking the same thing because she saw that live lobsters were for sale for $7.98 each at Market District.  That’s right.  $7.98!  You can’t beat the price and it doesn’t get much fancier that surf and turf.  So, to the strip I went to pick up the filets and then to the Market we went to get delicious, fresh, and feisty lobsters.

Cooking lobsters at home is lots of fun, very easy and super economical!  The trick is to have a large enough pot enough to be able to completely submerge the lobsters (especially if you are cooking more than 1 or 2).  The lobsters are fine out of water for quite some time; I actually read you can keep them in the fridge over night wrapped with wet newspaper, but we left it up to the store to keep them fresh.  Whatever you do don’t, I mean DO NOT put them in fresh water for a last little swim in fresh water before their final swim in the boiling water.  If you put them in fresh water, they drown.  They drown and they release a poison into their body.  How do I know that?  Well, since you asked, luckily I know that from second hand experience and did not have to experience the heartbreak of witnessing a few drowning lobsters in the bath tub myself.  My parents lived near Boston for a few years early in their marriage.  Their best friends also had been living there.  One day they decided to have lobsters, and being the kind and humane ladies that they were (are) decided to give their little guys one last hoorah.  Even if you get a deal for $7.98 each, you don’t want that!

To cook the lobsters, you will need a very large stock pot.  Fill about 2/3 with water and slice 2 lemons in half.  Squeeze each half into the water and then add the lemon rind into the pot.  Cut a whole clove of garlic in half and add to the party.  Then add a handful of springs of fresh thyme and a few bay leaves.  We had used plain water several times, and honestly did taste the difference in the lobster by adding the extra flavors.   Bring the water to a boil.  Remove the lobster from their container and carefully clip the rubber bands off of their claws before dropping in (it’s helpful to make this a 2 person job).  Drop the lobster carefully into the water.  Repeat for each lobster you have.  Put the lid on to help bring the water back up.  The lobsters will take about 12-15 minutes to cook.  They will turn a bright red when they are done.  I also read that you can tell when they are done when you can remove one of the feelers easily.

It is a delicious treat!  Serve with lots of melted butter, a cracker and a little lobster fork to help get meat out of the little areas.

We had the lobsters, grilled filet and roasted potato slices (recipes to follow soon!).

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“Holiday Hangover”

I had a little get together last night with a “holiday hangover” theme.  Christmas time is always so busy and rushed, and I wasn’t able to have a party during the holidays, so I decided to try to prolong the festive spirit into January.  Though the bulk of my decorations had been put away, I did use some ornaments and silver “icicle” tinsel stuff to decorate.

The menu included an antipasto and cheese platter, spinach and artichoke dip and 4 mini dessert.  I also set up a hot chocolate bar that was a hit!  It was fun to be able to mix and match some different syrups and toppings to customize the flavor.  I can’t wait to share all of the recipes with you!


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Balsalmic Glazed Meatloaf

This meatloaf is the combination of several different recipes I found, and turned out to be pretty delicious (if I do say so myself, and usually I do haha!  and I also say when it’s not so delicious).  I have made it twice, and the second time I diced up portabello mushrooms to make it a little healthier.  The first time I made individual servings by balling up the meatloaf mix and cooking them in a muffin tin.  A serving that way was 2 “muffins” per person.

Use 1 -1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (which is ground beef, pork and veal already combined)

1 or 2 eggs

1/4-1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4-1/2 cup milk

about 1 TBSP ketchup

a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

1 tsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion

1 tsp garlic powder


1 TBSP ketchup

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl add the ground meatloaf mixture, breadcrumbs, milk, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, Onion Onion, garlic powder.  In another small bowl, lightly scramble an egg and then add it to the bowl.  Use your hands to really get in there and mix everything together well (but be careful to over mix, because it will make the loaf a little tough).  It can be a little bit different every time you make it, so I recommend starting with 1/4 cup of milk and breadcrumbs and then add as you need it to get a nice moist loaf that holds a form well.  If you are doing it in muffin tins, divide the mixture into portions that are about the size of a lemon (the goal is to fit them into the tins).  Or use a loaf pan or just line a baking sheet with foil and do a loaf shape (or you can split it into 2 loafs).

Once the meatloaf or “muffins” are formed, mix equal parts (about 1 TBSP each) of ketchup, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl until it is combined.  Brush the glaze over the meat and cover with tin foil.  Bake for about 30 minutes and uncover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.

If you are adding in mushrooms, chopped them finely and mix in with the other ingredients.  You will need a little more milk to get the right consistency.

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Chocolate Bark

I really like the show Dessert First, I think Anne Thorton is so fun and I think we could be friends.  She made a chocolate bark like this a while back, and I was so excited to try it.  The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it is so quick and easy and can be changed up to your taste.  I will definitely be making this again with other combinations.  It’s the perfect kind of snack to have when you are craving salty and sweet.  I used milk chocolate and a thin layer of semi sweet chocolate (I also think dark chocolate would taste amazing together) and mixed in dried cherries, cashews and pretzels.

about 1 lb. of milk chocolate

1 bag of semi sweet chocolate (or dark)

about 1 cup pretzels chopped in small pieces

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

1/2 cup cashews, chopped

Melt the milk chocolate in a double boiler.  While the chocolate is melting, line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  When the chocolate is nice and shiny and melted, add in the pretzels, dried cherries and cashews and stir until combined.  Pour that mixture into the lined pan and spread out with a spatula to make an even layer.  I used the same pan to melt the semi sweet chocolate in.  Once the semi sweet is melted, pour it in a thin layer on top of the milk chocolate.  Let it cool.  Once the chocolate has set you can break (or try to cut) the bark into pieces.  Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone has had a very Merry Christmas!  Mine was filled with lots of love and fun and family.  And, some pretty amazing gifts also!  My parents got me a Kitchenaid stand mixer!!  I am beyond excited to break it out of the box and get rocking with it!  I have so many recipes that I’ve wanted to try but seem a bit too tough to tackle without a stand mixer.


I also hope that you have a great New Years!  I’m not so much making a resolution but definitely plan on rededicating myself to the blog and posting new recipes in a timely manner.  I’ve finely gotten pretty used to my new schedule and plan to definitely set aside time to post new kitchen adventures 🙂


What are your favorite holiday dishes and cookies to make?!


I know I have been awful at keeping up with my blogging in the past couple of months, but I promise I have been cooking!

But, more importantly than that I hope that everyone had a VERY wonderful Thanksgiving!!  What were you thankful for this year and what are dishes that you can’t live without on your Thanksgiving table?

Pumpkin Spice Bars

This is a recipe that my mum used to make, but I never really had a taste for when I was younger.  But, luckily for me, my taste buds changed (did you know that that happens every 7 years?!?!) and I now love them!  They are really easy to make, and are always a big hit.  It’s a really easy recipe to double if you are taking to a party.

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup margarine

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

14 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream sugar and margarine; add egg, vanilla and pumpkin; add flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Then fold in the walnuts (if you’re using them).  Spread the batter in a 10 x 13 pan.  Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean.  Cool slightly and frost with spice frosting.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

Spice frosting

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 TBSP margarine

4 TBSP milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash of ginger and cloves

2 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, except for vanilla and powdered sugar.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and beat in sugar until it’s a spreadable consistency.

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Summer Peach Cake

This cake was so delish, and there is a crazy secret ingredient… panko breadcrumbs!  It helps make keep the cake from being too mushy when the peaches cook.  I saw this on the Food Gawker app and I knew that I had to make it!  It was a big hit.


2 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into wedges

4 tsp lemon juice, divided

6 TBSP plus 1/3 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

8 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp vanilla extract, divided

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed


Preheat the oven to 425.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.  Cut a couple of the peaches in slices and put in a bowl.  Gently toss with 2 tsp of lemon juice and 1 TBSP sugar; set aside.  Cut the remaining peaches in cubes and place in another large bowl.  Gently toss these peaches with 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 TBSP sugar.  Spread the peach chunks on the prepared sheet in a single layer and bake until the juices begin to thicken and caramelize, about 20-25 minutes.  Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let the peaches come room temperature.

Reduce the oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch spring pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl and set aside.  Whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and eggs together in another bowl until thick and well combined, about 45 seconds.  Slowly whisk in butter.  Add the sour cream and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, whisking until combined.  Transfer half of the batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crushed breadcrumbs (I used my mortar and pestle to ground them finely) over the cooled chunks and toss gently.  Arrange the chunks around in an even layer, and press into the batter slightly.

Spread the remaining batter into the pan and again spread evenly.  Arrange the peach slices in a circular pattern on top, again pressing in slightly.  Stir together the remaining 1/8 tsp vanilla and 3 TSP sugar until the sugar is moistened and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake until the center of the cake is set, about an hour.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Remove from the pan and let cool another 2-3 hours (I made this the night before, and it was still great).


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We will never forget

There are events that change you, that change the way you look at each other and at the world.  I had long heard that there are events that you remember every detail about; where you were, who you were with, how you felt, ect.  These events include Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK and of course September 11, 2001.


I was fresh into my senior year of high school; full of excitement for a great year and promise of my future.  September 11, 2001 was picture perfect, blue skies with clouds doting the sky like they were painted in.  I was a member of student council, and we had a monthly meeting called student forum where members of student councils from different area schools met.  Our first meeting of the year was that day, and I was getting a few things ready before we left.  I was walking down the hallway when I ran into my video drama teacher, Mrs. Franks.  She looked as if she had seen a ghost, her face pale and her mouth still open.  First period was her prep, and she had the TVs on in the TV studio.  She saw the news right after the first tower hit.  I believe that she was the first person in the building to hear about what was then thought to be a tragic freak accident.  When we met in the hallway she told me what happened, and I walked with her to the office so she could tell the office staff and principals.  We turned on the news in the office to watch the coverage and to make sense of what was happening.  Within just a minute or two, we watched live in complete horror as the second plane hit the tower.

Still not knowing what was happening, we went to student forum and gathered with other student council members.  They rolled a TV into the room so we could updated with what was happening.  One of the teachers wanted to turn the TV off so that we could focus on the meeting.  Luckily the majority of the students and a few other teachers won out, and we focused more on the events as they occurred and not on the scheduled agenda.  Soon after we watched in eery silence as the tower came down.  They leaders decided to dismiss the meeting, and we all filed out to our cars trying to make sense of what was happening.  We decided to still go into Uniontown for lunch (which was our custom after attending these meetings).  We went restaurant to restaurant finding hand written closed signs on the doors.  I called my mum, who worked at the Uniontown hospital to hear her voice.  She let me know that they had been put on high alert, because they were the nearest hospital to Shanksville.  The whole staff was eagerly awaiting the call to let them know survivors were in route.  Sadly, the only call they got was to let them know there would be no need.  All perished in the crash.  We stopped to see my mum, and we both started crying when we saw each other.  She hugged me and my friends and helped to comfort us.  We headed for home.

We happened to have been having some work done in our kitchen that week.  When I got home that afternoon, the contractor was still there.  The poor man had no idea what was going on.  My sister had called early that morning and left a message on our answering; she was basically crying and yelling something along the lines of “those poor people, oh my God, those poor people”.  The poor contractor didn’t feel comfortable turning on our TV, so he heard the message (this was when people still actually had home phones and answering machines) and was beyond confused.  I filled him in on the days events.  I can only imagine what he had been thinking all day, but I’m sure it was no where near the actual days events.

I still get emotional thinking of that day (ok, I start crying usually), the lives lost, the heroes in action and the way that our country united.

We truly never will forget.  I am grateful to all of the heroes who did what needed to be done that day, and the weeks and months after and who still protect our freedom today.  I’m especially proud of and thankful for my cousin, Robbie, who has served in the reserves and served several tours of duty.  He has put his life on the line, as so many other soldiers have, to try to keep us as safe as they can.

A happy Thursday night!

Tonight was girls dinner to the max!  My friend Leann is in from Illinois this week, and was able to join EVERYONE (well almost) for dinner.  I was so grateful everyone was able to make it.  Leann mentioned how she couldn’t stop smiling all night.  And I felt the same.

Sadly, we only get to see Leann a couple of times a year, but it is always a joy to see she and her husband, Mat.  And tonight I found out that Mat is a big cooker and griller, so I hope to have him share some recipes soon! 🙂

I had 8 friends and me around the table tonight.  I actually only have 8 chairs, but luckily it wasn’t a big deal because 2 of the girls had a commitment that made them a bit late and they arrived a little bit after we ate.  As I heated things up a bit for them, and peaked into the dining room, I thought about what a fantastic problem I was having at the moment.  I had more friends around my table than chairs.  I will take that ANY day of the week.  Chit chat and laughter filled my apartment as we caught up and enjoyed being together like old times.  But, I like to make sure everyone is comfortable and like things to match, so I think a trip to Ikea will be in order soon to pick up a couple more folding chairs!

2 of my friends husbands came and went for dinner and drinks at a bar near my place, and were back at my place at the perfect timing for me (and probably the worst timing for them!).  Seeing the stacks of dishes piled up, they insisted on washing all of the dishes!  Usually I make everyone leave them.  I would much rather sit and visit than worry about them; the dishes will still be dirty in an hour or even a day in my opinion!  But the guys won even more points from me by washing everything!  My friends are lucky girls!

Highlights of the night:

  • Having more friends than chairs
  • Leann being home
  • Using my new green table runner from Marshalls and making a super cute table around that
  • Delicious home made lemonade in fun Ikea resealable glass bottles
  • Champagne with blackberries
  • Chris and Mat (Nicky and Leann’s husbands) doing ALL the dishes!

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