What's Cooking at the Genua's?

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Traveling Around the World

Not really, but close! Today and this weekend I will not have regular posts as I will be at the Wine and Food Festival in EPCOT at Disney World. This will be our (hubby and me) 9th year in a row. This year we are bringing my cousin Linda with us. (She is the one who is not so fond of Sluggo.) She is in for a treat! Yes Disney is expensive, yes they charge for EVERYTHING, and yes we will spend some money. BUT, we love going anyway and the food festival is just incredible. We drink wine, beer, champagne, sake, from all over the world and taste food that we might never ever get a chance to experience in person. Being so close to Disney is also a plus. We are only a little over 2 hours away by car. Plus Florida residents get all kinds of discounts on the park tickets. We have a seasonal pass and we can go into as many parks as we want every single day! All 4 in one day, if we wanted to! We won’t. Sticking to EPCOT this trip. So the pics I’m going to post now are from past trips. The new ones will be posted once I get home. Sluggo will also be joining us and we’ll get lots of photos of him enjoying the food and wine! (And Linda if she doesn’t notice me taking her picture as well!)

Happy Halloween to everyone also!


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Chocolate Melting Cake

This recipe is compliments of Carnival Cruise Lines. My favorite!!! This is the number one ultimate dessert onboard all the ships. My husband usually has it every night! I think they said they serve over 1000 a day! Watching the video it doesn’t seem too hard to make either. I think one day soon I am going to get the ingredients and try it! This video is done by the wonderful John Heald. He is the ultimate cruise director. On the 7 Carnival cruises I’ve taken I have yet to get him. I will one day though. He is very funny. The ship he is on right now is the Carnival Splendor doing the cruises along the Pacific coast of the US. So sit back and relax and watch the video.

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Pumpkin Pie Spice

As promised here is my recipe for making your own pumpkin pie spice at home. It’s so much cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff in the stores too and at least you will know what is in it! I’ve been making quite a bit of my own seasoning mixes these days. Anyway I can save a little money is a good thing! This recipe will make almost ½ a cup. There are many versions of this recipe around but I found this combination to work well. Some call for ground mace also. Which is actually part of the nutmeg seed before you get to the nutmeg. Some call for sugar. If there is a spice you want to add to it go ahead, experiment!

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup cinnamon

cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cloves

ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients and store in a tightly closed container. Keep in a dark, cool place with the rest of your spices!

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Guacamole Kicked Up a Notch

Yes I know I’ve already done guacamole. But I had three very ripe avocados in the fridge that I thought were history. I figured I’d better check them out before I tossed them. I cut them open and surprise! They were still ok! A few little blemishes here and there but otherwise fine and dandy! So I made guacamole. But as I was making it I had the idea to make it a little different. I looked around in the fridge and came across two ingredients I would never have thought to put in guacamole. Fat-free plain Greek yogurt and gorgonzola cheese! Weird? Not so much! I had about ½ cup of yogurt so I put it in my little food chopper and added a large handful of crumbled gorgonzola cheese. It was about 1/3 cup or so. I processed it till it was pretty creamy and added it to the guacamole. The color of the guacamole got a little lighter but I tasted it and it was good! I let it sit for a few more hours and it was even better! Who would have thought! We will be eating it for the next few days on everything! There is quite a lot of it. The guacamole recipe is from my recipe that I posted back in June. Just click on the link to get the recipe and just add the yogurt and gorgonzola cheese and you are set! I am sure it would probably be good with blue cheese as well!

So as you can see today’s post does not have an exact recipe. Just click on over to my other one for the rest.

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Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese

I found the original version of this recipe on the blog Budget Bytes. Beth has a great site and everyone should check it out. I made this recipe to bring to a pig roast this weekend and it was a huge hit! Everyone was raving about it. I served it with cinnamon raisin bagel chips. The only thing that went wrong is that I forgot to take a picture! I can’t believe it. When I remembered about the picture the cream cheese was all gone. I will be making it again this week once I get more cream cheese so I will remember to take a picture then!** Promise! I got several requests for the recipe also so it was a definite huge hit! Thanks Beth! I also doubled the recipe and used light cream cheese and the Splenda brown sugar blend. I also used my own pumpkin pie spice rather than a store-bought one. This way I know exactly what is in it.

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Ingredients

** New photos added!!

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces light cream cheese

½ cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or using a hand mixer. Make sure all the cream cheese is blended well! Chill and serve!


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Sluggo Celebrates Octoberfest and Halloween!

Who is Sluggo? Well, most of my friends and family know all about Sluggo. He’s a legend. Most people love him but there is a few who would rather he wasn’t around. Ok, it’s just one person that I know of who rolls her eyes when Sluggo is around. No names will be mentioned. She knows who she is! But I think we’re wearing her down! Secretly she loves Sluggo too! Sluggo goes everywhere with us. He goes skiing, he’s been on many cruises, he’s been all over the country with us and even went on a couple of trips with friends! He even got to go to Hawaii! My nieces and nephews love him too! They used to always ask if I brought “the little blue man” when I visited them. Like I said, he gets around.

For those of you who are saying, Sluggo? Sounds familiar. If you are a fan of the older episodes of Saturday Night Live you will know him. He is Mr. Bill’s nemesis. Oh no!!!!! Sometimes I do forget to bring him places. I know, it happens. I am going to try and remember to bring him this weekend to a pig roast we are going to. One of his favorite places to go to is EPCOT for the wine and food festival. We are going next weekend so I’ll have more pics.

Sluggo in Germany at EPCOT

He really likes beer too!

We even took him to a Halloween party a few years ago.

BOO!

He’s even been to Hooters!! (That’s another story for another day though!)

John and Sluggo with the Hooters girls!

Like I said, he’s been all over! Next up for him is cooking! He has the drinking part down pretty good so now maybe I can teach him to cook.

So now you have all met Sluggo. Yes we are little nuts in this house. But it’s fun!

Today’s post is usually a cocktail recipe but for today we are just going to go with one of Sluggo’s favorite seasonal beers. Or should I say two? He can’t decide today. Should he have the Sam Adams Octoberfest? Or my favorite, Shipyard Brewery’s Pumpkinhead Ale? I say the Pumpkinhead! Tastes just like a piece of pumpkin pie! So yummy!!

Decisions! Decisions!

I wish all my decisions were this tough! So enjoy your weekend everyone and I hope you all enjoyed meeting Sluggo! He will be back!

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Devilish Oven Fried Chicken w/Green Beans

I swore I would do the blog in the morning, so that when 7pm rolled around I wasn’t scrambling to get dinner ready and writing my blog at the same time. But here I am at 7:15pm writing the blog. I get so swamped in the morning. Between getting up with my husband at 7am, make his lunch & breakfast for him to take to work, feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, take the garbage out for pickup, do two more loads of laundry, check my email, eBay and whatnot…Oh and I wanted to do my daily walk as well at around 10am. HA! It was noon by the time I did that. So once the morning was gone the thought of writing the blog was too. I spent the afternoon job hunting as usual. No luck. So here I am now writing about a yummy dish I made last night. The original version of this recipe is from Rachael Ray (my fave!) and I changed it to suit what I had in the house. It originally called for 4 chicken legs w/thighs. I had 5 chicken thighs. The recipe also called for removal of the skin! I know! I left it on. That is pretty much it on what I changed. Though next time I am adding more hot sauce. Recipe only called for 1 tablespoon, not enough. I would add about ¼ cup next time. I served it with a side of green beans. The beans were the frozen kind in a ‘steamer’ bag. I was steaming them for about 5 minutes in the microwave till I heard the bag pop! No, it’s not supposed to do that! So I took them out of the microwave. In the meantime I had sautéed a shallot and 3 cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. I drained and dumped the beans into a microwave container and added the shallots and garlic. Then I added about 4 ounces of crumbled light feta cheese. Then I put it all back in the microwave for another minute or so. By then the chicken was done! Whew! So without anymore babbling here is the chicken recipe!

Green beans with shallots, garlic and feta cheese!

Chicken thigh with the delish green beans!

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup reduced-fat plain greek yogurt

¼ cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce)

4 large whole chicken legs separated from thighs (I used 5 thighs)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

4 teaspoons italian seasoning (only if you don’t have seasoned bread crumbs)

salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, yogurt and hot sauce. Add the chicken, turning to coat and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you aren’t ready to cook right away cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

2. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

3. In another large bowl, toss together the panko bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Skip this if you have seasoned panko. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to crumbs. Working with 1 chicken piece at a time, coat in the panko mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Chicken all dressed up for the oven!

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Cauliflower au Gratin w/Panko Crusted Flounder

Today’s post I have to give props to Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen. (see the original recipe at My Bizzy Kitchen)The cauliflower au gratin part of the recipe is from her blog and it is so good I had to rave about it today. I had to make a few changes to the recipe only because I didn’t have all the exact ingredients. Original recipe called for skim milk, I didn’t have any so I used fat-free half-and-half; original recipe had mozzarella cheese and blue cheese, I used swiss and gorgonzola, which I had. It still came out great. I also didn’t cook the sauce long enough for it to thicken but it still came out great. There were no leftovers which is a good sign it was edible! I served it with panko crusted flounder fillets. For these I just dredged the fillets in a little soy flour, dunked in egg/milk mixture and then coated with panko bread crumbs. Just fry them in a large pan with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t need a ton of oil so don’t go freaking out that it’s fried. I used olive oil also. Actually the entire dish is pretty low-calorie.  Lots of protein and vitamins!

Flounder frying in very little olive oil

Cauliflower before baking

So before you look at the finished photo remember, the sauce was a bit watery! But, I also discovered that it tastes great poured over the fish as well! (no pic of that of course!) So all in all I would make this again. Very easy actually and cooked pretty fast. Oh also, the original recipe called for cooking the cauliflower first on the stove in water. I cooked mine in the microwave. Less heat since I was using the stove for the flounder and the oven was heating up for baking the cauliflower.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium head cauliflower, washed and cut into bite size pieces

1 cup fat-free half-and-half

1 tablespoon butter (I used a butter substitute)

1 tablespoon flour (I used soy flour)

3 ounces shredded swiss cheese (You can use mozzarella, monterey jack or cheddar too)

1 ounce crumbled gorgonzola cheese (You can use blue cheese too)

1 tablespoon Italian bread crumbs (I used panko)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe container with about ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook on HIGH for 6-8 minutes, checking halfway through to see if it’s tender. Drain water when done. Set aside.

2. While the cauliflower is cooking melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook on medium heat for about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, making a white sauce, stirring constantly. (Here is where I apparently didn’t cook it long enough. You can raise the heat a bit and keep stirring until it thickens up a bit. Don’t worry if it doesn’t. It’ll still taste good.)

Cauliflower au gratin!

3. Remove saucepan from the heat and mix in the other cheeses until they all melt. The gorgonzola or blue cheese may not melt all the way but that is fine as it will continue to melt in the oven. Add the cauliflower and mix well. If it’s easier to mix the cauliflower in the casserole dish you are going to use that is fine. That’s what I did. Top with the bread crumbs and bake at 425º for 15-20 minutes. I put the broiler on for a minute or so just to brown it up a little more. The cheese should be nice and bubbly! Serve

Voila! Flounder and Cauliflower au Gratin!

Makes about 4 servings.

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I’ve Been Tagged! I’m It! Who is Next?

I was just tagged by Dana of the wonderful Food For Thought blog. She is from NY and has wonderful recipes. This game has been going around a little while now between bloggers. I am so happy to be tagged! Thanks Dana! Everyone go check her site out now!!!

Ok, so the rules are very easy for this game of Blogger Tag. Answer eight questions provided by your tagger (me) and then come up with eight new questions of your own! Once you do that you have to  tag eight other bloggers to play along. Simple right! Go ahead give it a shot! I am going to have a hard time picking just 8 bloggers to tag though! There are so many awesome sites out there.

Here I go with the questions Dana has asked.

1. What’s in your refrigerator right now? Wow, my refrigerator is packed at the moment. There are leftovers from our chinese food take out on Sunday, 4 ripe avocados (that I must make guacamole with now!), cold cuts, broccoli, cauliflower, half-and-half, thawed out flounder fillets that I was supposed to make last night, eggs…Like I said, the fridge is full.

2. What is your favorite vacation destination (either one you have visited, or one you would like to)? Hmm this is tough. The favorite vacation destination I would like to visit is Italy. Never been there and we’re dying to get there, soon! Favorite vacation destination I’ve been to is tough too. I love cruises (been on 14 so far) but I think so far my favorite destination other than a cruise has to be Hawaii. We only got to Oahu but it was great. Also for quiet relaxation my family’s summer-house in Naples, Maine is another favorite spot. Life in the slow lane up there!

3. What is the last book you read? I am so far behind with my books. But the last one I read was Blaze by Richard Bachman (also known as Stephen King) I am now reading another Stephen King book call Duma Key. Stephen King is my favorite author. Got to see his house in Bangor, Me. a few times when we drove up that way.

4. What is your absolute favorite food? This is tough. I love food, period. But I would have to say my favorite is a nice juicy rib eye steak. I love steak and mashed potatoes. My next favorite would be a pasta dish or sushi. Whenever I came home from college on break I always asked my mom to make me steak and mashed potatoes. So I guess that is my favorite! Oh and it has to be rare! (I can hear some of you cringing, sorry!)

5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Is there a “house-cleaning” power? I would love that if there was. But if not I guess being really fast. This way I could clean the house in no time at all! Or even to be able to transport myself to other places with a blink or thought.

6. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla! No thinking there. I like chocolate as candy. That’s it. But vanilla is my favorite for most things.

7. Are you neat in the kitchen? Nope. Though I do try. When I’m cooking I try and clean up as I go along so there isn’t a huge mess later.

8. What’s one little known fact about you? One little known fact? Probably that I am adopted. My family knows, obviously. But most of my friends and acquaintances do not. I was adopted at 3 months old and I never remember my parents telling me I was. I just always knew. Pretty cool actually. My brother that is a year younger is also adopted. Then my parents had 2 kids naturally. We used to tease my youngest brother by saying that “we were special, because we were chosen”. That my parents got “stuck” with him! Kids can be mean! But it was all in fun.

Ok now here are my questions:

  1. Who is your favorite celebrity cook or chef?
  2. What food if any, do you really not like?
  3. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
  4. What is your favorite cocktail, beer or wine?
  5. Why did you start blogging?
  6. What is your favorite holiday?
  7. What is your favorite restaurant?
  8. Have you ever been on a cruise?

And the blogs I am tagging are

Debbi of  Debbie Does Dinner…Healthy

Joanne of Eats Well With Others

Camala of CC Recipe

Dawn of Florida Coastal Cooking

Kristy of The Wicked Noodle

Ana of Live and Enliven

Natalie of Champagne Piggy

Beth of Budget Bytes



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S’More Cookies

S’mores usually remind us of campfires, summer nights, scouts and just plain fun. I may be weird but I’m not a fan! Honest. I LOVE toasting marshmallows but I don’t like to eat them. I like graham crackers and chocolate but not necessarily together, with marshmallows. Yes I am strange. I also think of the movie “Half Baked” with Jim Breuer and Dave Chappelle. They kept wanting to make “S’mores man!” Funny movie. But still not a fan of the actual creation. BUT, as a cookie, that is another story. Remember, I really like cookies. I also am baking challenged according to my husband but these are so simple even I can make them. They are basically drop cookies which means you mix all the ingredients and just drop them on the cookie sheet. So with the holiday season starting up give these a try for something a little different!


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped, unblanched almonds

1½ cups chocolate chunks

1½ cups miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and salt together.

2. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla.

3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Add almonds, chocolate and marshmallows.

4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a nonstick baking sheet. Press the top of each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in water.

5. Bake at 350ºF for 12-14 minutes or until light brown.

6. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about  3 dozen cookies

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