Friday, June 27, 2014

Reese's Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

So apparently I'm in a Reese's and Oreo mood because Jackson "made" me buy these limited edition Oreo's at Walmart today that are filled with Reese's Peanut Butter.  Then I made this cake.  We are having a bunch of family over to our first party at our new house.  I'm so excited to entertain again, I have missed it so much!!!  I combined coupons for all of the items for this cake and got great deals, ain't to proud to blog about a great recipe and deal!! Anywho no long story needed here...just straight up yummy town!!  Enjoy!!!

Reese's Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

  • 24 Ice Cream Sandwiches.  I used Friendly's Cookies and Cream Sandwiches
  • 2 Jars of hot fudge (keep it room temp)
  • 1 squirt bottle of caramel sauce
  • 2 bags of some sort of candy mini's.  I was in a Reese's trance and so that's what I got but you could literally make your own combos and do anything!  I threw all the mini Reese's on a cutting board and chopped 'em all up so you'd get more in every bite.
  • 1 and a half of the large containers of Cool Whip
  • 9 x 13 Casserole dish
  • tin foil
  1. Line the dish with foil leave lots of overhang you will use this to pull the cake up out of the casserole dish before serving.  I doubled the foil to make it stronger
  2. Use 12 of the ice cream sandwichs and layer them on the bottom.  I had to cut some of the ones on the last strip to make them fit and fill in the whole pan, I may or may not have had to eat half of one while making it.
  3. Spread with spatula one jar of fudge.
  4. Next layer Cool Whip in a thick layer
  5. Squirt some caramel then throw on half the candies.  
  6. Repeat the layers again with remaning sandwiches, fudge, Cool Whip, fancy caramel drizzle then candy.  
  7. Let freeze over night.  Take out before serving and lift out of dish.  Slice like a cake and stuff your face.
I've never made this before and it's sitting in the freezer as we speak.  I can't promise the out come but really how could it be bad!! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New & Improved Florentine Stuffed Shells

So I have posted my stuffed shells before.  But I have to say last time I made them I wasn't totally thrilled with the out come, it was ok, but not like a Jenni Ford Fantastic dish!!!  I did some searching online and stole some ideas from other recipes and created a new recipe.  It was delicious and met my criteria for a good dish!!!  The sauce was sweet and savory and hearty with meat.  The sauce was the best bread dipping sauce.  My brother in law Mike piled this sauce on top of his italian bread and it looked perfect stack of dipping deliciousness.  I'm not a huge fan of ricotta the creaminess and thick texture sometimes totally wig me out!  However I do love ricotta in stuffed shells.  This recipe was the perfect amount of spinach, ricotta, cheese, spices and herbs all in a delicious cute lil shell.   To my complete surprise the kids ate this dish.  As I was mixing up the ricotta I was hiding the bowl from the kids so they didn't ask "what's all that green stuff".  We actually told them what it was at the dinner table and I still can't even believe that they all liked it!!!!  Even the super picky ones (which is three out of four of them).
I can't wait to eat these for left overs tomorrow!!
I also made today my Butternut Squash and Sage Soup: .  The aroma that fills the house when this soup is cooking is irresistible.  The smell of fresh sage makes me so happy!!
After working a 16 hour shift yesterday, not sleeping last night b/c of work, a huge snow storm, sleeping probably a total of an hour, I was so excited to get up and do my favorite thing....just cook!!

I made the sauce at like 1 p.m., cooked the pasta, made the ricotta and stuffed them.  Let the sauce simmer till five or so, covered the shells and baked 'em.  Nice easy make ahead meal even if its for the day before.  This recipe makes 54 stuffed shells with some plain ones left over to snack on while you cook.

This made two large casserole dishes, enough for eight of us (four adults and four kids) to eat dinner and their is another whole casserole dish left.  We have the in laws watching the kids tomorrow so they will be able to just reheat it and let them have a nice home cooked meal while they are watching our lil cherubs.

Sorry forgot to take a picture so no photo's today!!

Florentine Stuffed Shells

Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2 large cans of Red Pack crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large cans of Red Pack pureed tomatoes
  • Water (I just swirl some water around the crushed tomato cans to rinse 'em and use that water)
  • 2 small cans of tomato paste
  • 1 minced white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 lbs ( I can't remember how much meat may have been a little more) of ground meat of some sort, I really wanted to do ground sausage however our Market Basket NEVER has ground sausage so we used ground beef b/c we had some left over from our popular and much requested Cheese Burger Wraps we made Sunday night
  • 1 cup (I didn't measure may have used slightly more) of red wine (I just happened to have some Cab sitting near buy the stove)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • dried salt and pepper (sorry never measure these)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • dried basil I probably used 2 tbsp
  • dried oregano 1 1/2 tbsp probably.  Again I don't measure spices unless its the first time making a recipe
Sauce Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a ceramic dutch oven or large stock pot or whatever you normally make spaghetti in.  Once hot add onions and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes just until they start to soften.  You do not want the pan to hot b/c you don't want to burn the garlic.  You don't want them browned just start to soften.
  2. Add the ground beef and brown.  Drain all grease.  Keep heat on about med high and add the two cans of tomato paste.  Let it start to get sticky and stuck to the bottom of the pan.  
  3. Use red wine to deglaze pan, use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan and get all those yummy cooked flavors off the bottom.  Let simmer on this heat for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, water, spices, and sugar.
  5. Let sauce simmer for at least two hours on med to low stirring from time to time.  The longer the yummo sauce simmers the better.

Shell Ingredients:
  • 2 boxes of large stuffing shells cooked according to package directions and rinsed in cold water so they don't stick together and you halt the cooking process.
  • 1 and a 1/4 large containers of part skim ricotta
  • 2 large bags of frozen chopped spinach defrosted and water rung out
  • 3 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • bunch of garlic powder and pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • some onion powder
  • dried oregano, parsley, and basil
  • some extra fresh parm maybe two more cups or so for sprinkling
  • some extra shredded mozzarella (buy one bag it'll be enough for all your needs)
Shell Directions:
  1. Mix together with your hands all ingredients except large shells, extra parm, and extra mozzarella.  Let sit for a few to make sure flavors meld together.
  2. Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto bottom of casserole dish.
  3. Fill each shell with a spoon full of ricotta mixture, do not over stuff make sure the shell will just about close.  Place seam side up nice and snuggled up next to each other in the casserole dish.
  4. When you are ready to cook them preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes until bubbly and hot.  
  5. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top and then a thin layer of shredded mozzarella.  Bake this until mozzarella begins to bubble then throw the broiler on till just starts to brown.  Watch it at this step you don't want to go this far and burn the dickens out of it!!   Enjoy with some nice warm italian bread.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bacon and Sweet Pea Risotto

Happy New Year!!!  2013 was a great year filled with changes and new beginnings for our family.   I can not wait to see what 2014 has in store for our family this coming year.  New Years Eve was fun, Steve of course went to bed super early as he had to work today.  My brother and sister in law and I stayed up drinking way to much alcohol, playing drinking games, and ringing in the new year.  So far all 2014 has brought me is a hang over and the day off from work!!!!

As I've mentioned before Steve does not love risotto, he says he "just doesn't get it."  I, on the other hand, LOVE it.  The four of us were trying to come up with an idea for new years when we decided on steaks.  I picked up some delicious rib eyes and did my Rosemary Dijon Pesto marinade.  I decided to make risotto as well.  My sister in law doesn't particularly love mushrooms so I needed to come up with another kind of risotto.  I started looking around at recipes and decided to come up with my own.

Originally I wanted to make my linguini carbonara for new years, however we are having pasta tonight so I thought it would throw my brother in law over the edge as he doesn't love pasta.  So the bacon and sweet pea risotto was inspired by my craving for linguini carbonara.

The risotto was a huge hit, most of us had three helpings.  My sister and brother in law had never had risotto before and I was glad to have knocked this one out of the park.  Steve even said it was the best risotto he's ever had.....bacon is truly the way to a mans heart!!!

Plan ahead if making this risotto, it takes about 50 minutes start to finish.  Good risotto takes time, love, and a lot of stirring so just be prepared to be standing over the stove stirring for quite a while.

Rosemary Dijon Pesto Marinade

  • 2 cups of fresh basil lightly packed (honestly I didn't measure it just used the entire large ziploc bag from the grocery store may have even been three cups, the more the better
  • 1/2 cup fresh rosemary lightly packed
  • 2 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 6 tsp of Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 6 tbsp dijon mustard
  • olive oil (I just keep pouring until its a paste I honestly don't measure this) probably 3/4 of a cup or so maybe 1/2 a cup

  1. Use a handstick immersion blender or food processor to mince together the basil, garlic, rosemary, and Montreal steak seasoning.  
  2. Add the mustard and process to form a paste.  Slowly add th
    e olive oil till it thins out and is a paste and all combined.
  3. Massage onto both sides of the steak generously.  Let sit out at room temp for about 30 minutes before cooking.
  4. This makes enough for four large ribeye steaks, cut in half if making just for two.

Bacon and Sweet Pea Risotto

  • 2 cups of Arborio Rice
  • 1 large container of chicken stock I probably used about 6 cups...I just know I used the entire large carton (the carton was bigger than the normal cartons but again probably 6-8 cups I used)
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 1 sweet onion diced/chopped as small as you can get it
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or crushed
  • 6 strips of thick cut bacon diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated parmesan cheese (you'll use 1 cup in one part and a half cup in another )
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • about 2 1/2 cups of sweet frozen peas (again I didn't measure these just kept adding until there was a lot of peas ad it looked right)
  • salt and pepper

  1. Use a dutch oven or large pot (I used my brother in law's awesome enamel dutch oven).  On med high heat brown the bacon.  Once browned and crispy remove bacon bits with slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  2. Remove pan from heat just to cool the bacon grease and pot down a little bit.  Add the onions and garlic into the dirty pan and sauté for about 7-10 minutes until soft.  Season with salt and pepper
  3. Add the rice and sauté with onions and garlic about another 7 minutes or so until you can start smelling the rice, keep it moving in the pan.  
  4. Add the first cup of white wine.  With a wooden spoon scrape all the burnt bacon flavor off the bottom keep stirring until the wine is absorbed and add the second cup.  Again keep stirring and let it bubble on about med to med high heat.
  5. Now you will start adding the chicken stock about a 1/2 a cup at a time.  Let it simmer and bubble and keep it moving in the pan.  Continue to add more stock after more stock.  This process will take about 35-40 minutes to get the risotto to be cooked through and creamy.  After you keep adding stock letting it absorb and adding stock repeat taste it.  If the rice pellets are still crunchy you need to keep adding more stock until cooked to desired texture.  It will get hard to stir at the end b/c it'll be so creamy.  
  6. Once rice is cooked throw in the frozen peas and fold them into the rice.
  7. Fold in the cup of parmesan cheese and the 4 tbsp of butter and the bacon bits.  
  8. Remove and place in serving dish.  Top with remaining parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spinach and Blueberry Salad w/ Goat Cheese & Candied Walnuts w/ Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing

This is a salad that my Aunt Cheryl makes all the time at summer cook outs.  Steve LOVES this salad.  He was just telling my brother in law Mike about it the other day.  I had most of the ingredients on hand so I thought it'd make a great dinner.  I've attempted this dressing several times, always doesn't taste quite right.  Today after a little help from my Aunt Cheryl on the ingredients (she gave me the ingredients but I had to make up the amounts because she doesn't measure them).  Normally when my Aunt brings this salad to our house we make her leave the extra dressing so we can have it because I had not yet mastered the dressing.  Today I knocked it out of the park, it was perfect.  Mike, Steve, and I grilled up some steaks and enjoyed them with this amazing salad.  It's sweet and tangy and full of blueberry deliciousness!!!  The house was quiet as the kids are all out and so it was the prefect night to have something the kids probably wouldn't have liked very much as only one of them likes salad.  I have had a tough week and needed something sweet in my life, this was perfect!
I make the nuts and dressing ahead of time so I can just throw together the salad when it's time to eat. All and all a very simple meal!  Awesome with grilled chicken too.

Spinach and Blueberry Salad w/ Goat Cheese & Candied Walnuts w/ Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing


  • 1/2 jar of Bonne Madam Wild Blueberry Preserves (in the jelly isle w/ a white label black writing)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large shallot minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 1/2 tbsp (two big squirts) of dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • bag of 50/50 spring mix and baby spinach
  • bag of shelled walnuts
  • 2 pints of blueberries (we like a lot of blueberries in it)
  • about a cup of brown sugar (I don't measure this, just keep pouring, I normally use brown sugar Splenda to reduce the calories but today I did use regular brown sugar b/c it was what was open
  • about a half to 3/4 of a log of goat cheese (I crumbled some on the salad and left the rest on the table incase people wanted more goat cheese)

  1. To make the nuts.  In a sauté pan on med to high heat dump in the nuts.  Toast them constantly string for about 5-7 minutes.  If they start to smoke remove from heat as you don't want to burn the nuts.  Once warmed and toasted start adding brown sugar.  I dump in a bit stir it around till it melts and clumps.  I usually add about three dumps worth from the bag.  It will appear as though they aren't candying however keep string at some point they will get gooey and brown.  Once gooey stir for another minute or two.  Lay out foil and dump straight from pan onto foil and let cool.  Once cool break up and put into a plastic bag to save till you make your salad.
  2. To make the dressing:  dump garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and white balsamic vinegar into a bowl (or food processor bowl).  I then used my immersion blender (if you don't have one get one, or use a food processor, its much easier to use and wash) to blend together all these ingredients.  I slowly added the olive oil blending as I added then added the white wine.  Pump the immersion blender up and down to incorporate some air to bulk up the dressing.  Pour into whatever vessel you are going to use to pour the dressing and refrigerate until you are going to use you want it cold so it thickens up a little bit.
  3. Throw the spring mix/baby spinach into a large bowl top w/ washed blueberries. 
  4. Break up goat cheese and sprinkle on salad, mix it in then sprinkle again.
  5. If you are serving to a big crowd add the nuts, I serve them on the side so they don't get soggy.  Leave dressing on the side so folks an dress their own salad.   Enjoy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Scrumptious Chicken Cacciatore

So we are living now at my brother and sister in laws house.  It's sometimes hard to cook here because we are cooking for eight.  Four picky children (well my four year old niece is the least picky) and four adult pallets.  It's not as easy to experiment with new recipes.  Before it was just Steve, myself, and Jackson.  Jackson only eats spaghetti and macaroni and cheese so I was able to experiment for Steve and I.

I've cooked a decent amount since I've been here but nothing to crazy.  Last night I found out I was in charge of making something I've never made, chicken cacciatore.  I know it doesn't seem difficult, but I've never made it and wanted it to be good (and have the children eat it).  I searched around for some recipes...pulled some ingredients from each and made my own special touches.

It was AMAZING.  The peppers were still a little crisp, not mush.  The chicken was creamy and so tender and flavorful.  The sauce was just perfect!  We all agreed the only thing that would have made it better was a dash of red pepper, but with the kids I wouldn't dare or they would never eat it!!!  I loved it, but would love to try it some day with a little kick as well.

Just as a side bar.  I just spilled my entire glass of red wine inspiration all over our couch, the floor, sprayed the window its all in the screen, all over the wall and on my light blue fav sweat shirt.  Grrr.

Ok on to what you came here to read.  We fed four adults and four kids with this w/ plenty of left overs you could cut it in half if you were only feeding a few.

I cooked this in an enamel dutch oven.  A dutch oven is the key to this dish.  This is a one pot dish (besides the pasta which I love)

Chicken Cacciatore

  • I used 2 large chicken breasts and 5 chicken fillets (it's all I had in the freezer) I cut all the chicken up into like cubes or like one inch two bite pieces. 
  • 2 red peppers sliced then cut the slices in half
  • 2 green peppers cut the same way as the red
  • 3 small onions sliced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups of flour seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika(maybe more I just dumped a bunch into a freezer bag)
  • 7 tbsp of olive oil ( you will use 3 once and 3 in another)
  • tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 cup red wine ( I just happened to have cabernet w/ in arms reach)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes drained then use a potato masher to crush them up so they are more like crushed tomatoes (you could just use crushed but I had a coupon that made the petite diced super cheap, so I crush my own)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups of water
  • 2 boxes of ziti with lines (we like extra left over pasta in the house so it was more than enough)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  
  2. Take chicken cubes throw them in the bag w/ the flour.  Toss until all are coated.  I dumped this into  colander to be able to shake out all the extra flour.
  3. In dutch oven (I had to brown the chicken in two batches because I had a lot of chicken) heat the first 3 tbsp of oil until hot.  Throw in half the chicken.  Let brown to a golden brown.  Flip chicken (it's hard b/c all the pieces are so small but i just
    stirred 'em then used my hands to flip the other pieces).  Once browned put chicken in the bowl (you don't want to loose any of the juices so you want it in a bowl to collect it).  Do the same to the second half.  Put that chicken in the bowl too.
  4. To the dirty dutch oven add about a tbsp of olive oil.  On medium heat add the onions.  Soften them about 4-5 minutes continuously string and scraping the brown stuff off the bottom.
  5. Once about to turn soft add the red wine and scrape up the whole bottom of the pot to get all the yummy stuff.  Add garlic cook onions for another minute or two.  
  6. Add the water, tomato sauce, diced/crushed tomatoes, all dried seasoning.  Generous pinches of salt and pepper.  Stir all this together and bring to a simmer.
  7. gently spread the peppers over the top of the sauce.  Cover and cook in oven on 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  9. Spoon mixture over a plate of pasta and top with fresh parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!!!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Supporting Brendan's Brain

So recently we have been lucky enough after losing our home to have a wonderful sister in law and brother in law to take us in so we can save some money.

We have been here about three weeks....these have been stressful few weeks for everyone.  Although we are adjusting and unpacking etc, its been even worse for my sister in laws family.

Her nephew Brendan has been hospitalized for over two weeks with issues surrounding his hydrocephalus and existing shunt.   We are all looking to raise some money to help his family and him through out this process.  Any donations are greatly appreciated, even in the smallest amounts!  It all adds up!!

Please share this link with anyone you can to help us meet our goal!!!

Here you will find details on helping and his condition.  As well as an awesome picture of him!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jenni's Fish Tacos

So now I am really feeding the Ford's, lots of them.  Last week we moved in with my awesome sister and brother in law to save some money.  So now there are 8 Fords in the house, and they are hungry!!! This morning we were trying to decide what we should make for "Sunday Funday" food.   Someone suggested fish tacos.  I really don't make to much fish so this made me nervous!!  But I researched some recipes and obviously went off the written path and changed it to what I thought I'd like.  We made regular tacos for the kids.  I used my homemade taco seasoning which can be found here: .  I always get so nervous cooking new recipes especially for other people besides Steve, I never want to disappoint.  This was not a disappointment, in fact everyone at the dinner table (all the adults) were saying this recipe is a keeper!!  It was so delicious!!!   Also the recipe was super healthy!!  This recipe will make 8 taco's, fed all 4 adults two tacos a piece.  Since we had regular tacos too we had out shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, mexican shredded cheese, and sour cream and mango salsa on the table.

Jenni's Fish Tacos


  • 2 lbs of fresh white flaky fish (we used cod, the original recipe called for mahi mahi, but Shaw's didn't have that so the guy said some other lady was using cod for her fish tacos so thats what we used)
  • juice of two limes
  • zest of the two juiced limes
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh cilantro and a 1/4 cup separated
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tbsp of chipotle chili powder (original called for ancho chili powder but I didn't have this/forgot to buy it)
  • 1 jalapeno ribbed and deseeded diced
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • tri colored cole slaw cabbage in the bag (I used about 3/4 of the bag)
  • 1/2 container of light sour cream
  • hot sauce (I used a few dashes of chipotle tabasco and another 8 or 10 dashes of regular tabasco)
  • 1/2 red onion very thinly sliced and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of green onion diced thin ( I didn't measure I used about 3/4 of a bunch that I bought at the store, did it till it was enough to see I love green onion so can never have to much)
  • clover honey about a tbsp for the slaw and about 3 tbsp for the marinade (again I didn't measure just squirted
  • 5 cloves of fresh garlic diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of mango salsa (we used Newman's own)
  • Pam cooking spray
  1. Whisk together 1/2 cup of cilantro, oil, lime juice, 3 tbsp of honey, garlic, jalapenos, salt and pepper, and chipotle chili powder.  Salt and pepper fish and marinade in this liquid for about 30-40 minutes.
  2. Mix together cole slaw mix, red onion, green onion, sour cream, mango salsa, lime zest, 1 tbsp of honey, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. Heat grill to medium high heat.  Spray tortillas with Pam cooking spray and grill on both sides to heat.
  4. Grill fish 4 minutes on one side then flip and grill 30 seconds on the other side.  Brush extra seasoning on fish to coat.  Let sit for five minutes.
  5. Serve fish tacos with slaw on them...garnish as necessary!!!  Enjoy!!