HAPPY FATHERS DAY

On this Fathers Day I would like to honor all the Dads, Grandfathers, Stepfathers and father figures. It’s not an easy job! As they say, somebody’s got to do it! Here are a few of my favorites.

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I actually live with one that is pretty awesome. He is a fantastic father, stepfather, and grandfather. He has at times been a father figure when there has been a need. I have often wondered where he gets his calm and reserve from. He somehow manages to make it look effortless. I thank God every day that he is the father of our family.

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Some days you have to put the cape on and be Super Man. Every day you have to be a role model and set the example. After all, how would future fathers and mothers know how to step into their roles?

You guys are awesome! There is no way we could do it without you. You have the ability to make us feel safe, loved, and taken care of. Your footsteps are hard to fit into, but somehow you always show the way. It’s an endless job with a major responsibilty that is never ending. It has to be exhausting!

So……on this Fathers Day, know how much you are loved and admired. I hope all of you have a wonderful day and are shown just how much you are appreciated. Put your cape on today and soar high. Take a nap, drink a beer, be with the ones you love, but above all, continue being Super Dads.

We Love You to the moon and back!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (WW friendly) 4SP each

I have got to get better at this. I haven’t posted for a while, my apologies! Seems as though every waking minute is filled. My weekends in the summer are never dull. We are either boating, going to an event, visiting, traveling; know what I mean!  I also try to work two to three days a week and take care of my house. There’s always something to do. It’s just crazy hectic.

It’s been so hot here I have had to water my plants and flowers early morning and in the late afternoon. Today is threatening rain. I must admit, I am not upset in the least. I won’t have to worry about watering this evening, providing we get a good soaking. Keep your fingers crossed!!

I came in trying to think of something sweet and yummy but waist friendly. I found this old recipe and tweaked it a bit. It’s so easy! It can also be adapted with any cake mix, yogurt flavors and fruit additions that you desire. It just so happened I had a box of lemon cake mix. So lemon poppy-seed muffins it is.

They whip up in no time and are so moist and tender. Here is the recipe, try it and let me know your thoughts. If you come up with a good combination, let me know.

LEMON POPPY SEED MUFFINS

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
  • 1 (5.3 oz)  container of Oikos Zero vanilla yogurt
  • 1 C skim milk
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • zest of one lemon

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 12 C muffin tin with liners and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients, stir until well blended and moistened.
  4. Using an 2 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, fill and place into the muffin cups. (It made 12 exactly. I used a rubber spatula to scrape all of the ingredients out of the mixing bowl.)
  5. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until tested done with a toothpick.
  6. Remove and let cool. ENJOY!!!!!

*These come in at 4 smart points each using the Weight Watchers calculator.

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Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Book Club & Vegie Pizza

It’s always fun to get together with my girlies. We have been a book group for about 4 years and friends, it seems, for years. I have to say, our reading efforts are terrible. We do however, enjoy a glass of wine or two, and laugh a lot. I think one of our most infamous get togethers was 50 Shades of Grey. Now, that was a discussion and many bottles of wine!!!

This is a collage of our crazy group!

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This month we are reading a classic, Treasure Island. The inspiration came from the recent TV series, Black Sails. If you haven’t seen it and get the opportunity I highly recommend it.

Everybody brings a bottle of wine and some food, to pass and share. I made a cold vegie pizza; it’s one of my fav’s. I have lightened it up so I can really enjoy it. It was a recipe originally taken from a pampered chef party that I went to many years ago. If you don’t want to lighten it up, by all means use full fat products. It feeds about 8 people easily and either way is quite tasty.

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WW VEGIE RANCH PIZZA

32 servings at 4SP per serving

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 C light mayonnaise
  • 1 (1oz) package powdered Ranch dressing mix
  • 2 (8oz) cans reduced fat Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 1 C fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 C red pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C reduced fat (2%) shredded¬†cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise and Ranch dressing and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  3. Remove crescent rolls from the cans, (I hate this part, those cans scare me when they pop..Haha).
  4. Roll out in one big piece onto a large cookie sheet that has either been greased or you can use a sil-pat (no added oils). Pinch the seams together as needed.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the cooled crust.
  7. Top with the chopped vegies.
  8. Using a pizza cutter, or a large knife, cut into 32 squares.
  9. Serve immediately. (can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

Ristorante Antipasti

There is one thing you have probably figured out on your own. I love food, I love to cook, and I love to eat. When I think of Italian food, this is the place for me.  I was treated to Mother’s Day dinner there yesterday. This place never disappoints!!

Antipasti is located in Ocean City, Maryland, land of sun, sand, and fun, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered one of the hot vacation spots in Maryland. There is something for everyone, young and old alike.

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The owner and chef, Fausto, makes you feel like you are dining in your own home. Quite a handsome fellow, I might add. He makes it a point to come to your table at least once and more often than not, several times. His olive colored skin, striking blue eyes, and beautiful smile, add to his charismatic charm and appeal. Doesn’t hurt that he also makes sure all the ladies get a kiss. This is true Italian hospitality.

When you walk through the doors the walls are lined with pictures of Fausto and his guests. Joe Namath, Henry Winkler, Sir Paul McCartney, are just a few to mention. It is quite a gallery.


 

With so many selections on the menu to choose from, it’s hard to say that one item is better than the other. I am absolutely in love with his gnocchi. Little pillows of heaven, that melt in your mouth. It’s hard not to moan out loud when I eat them. From appetizers to desserts, the whole dining experience is phenomenal.

http://www.ristoranteantipasti.com/menu

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He also teaches cooking classes. My husband surprised me by signing us up. I did learn one valuable lesson about tomato sauce, or “gravy” as true Italians call it. You MUST use San Marzano tomatoes. So named, for the region they are grown in. Cooked low, and slow until they render all of their sweetness. I added absolutely nothing to them and turned out the best “gravy” I have ever made.

If you happen to be in the area, stop in and say hello. I will caution you, it is best to make a reservation, especially during the high season which is summer. If you want authentic Italian food and an authentic Italian atmosphere, don’t miss Ristorante Antipasti. Maybe I will see you there!

http://www.ristoranteantipasti.com/find-us

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

 

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY

I would like to reach out and wish all the Moms a Happy Mother’s Day. ¬†I myself am blessed to be a Mom and a Grandmother, aka “Mimi”. I am also lucky enough to be a stepmother to 3 children as well.

While being a mother is rewarding it also has it challenges. When I was a young mother I remember being terrified that I wasn’t up to the task. Yep, scared to death to be honest. My daughter somehow made it and is a fantastic mother to my grandson. Of course, I can not take all the credit. It truly does, take a village.

Nobody gives you a handbook of instructions. There are no set rules or reasons on how to be a mother. We just do it! Some how, we find our way.

I lost my Mother quite a few years ago. There are still times when I have the urge to call her and consult with her or ask her “what would you do”. So often, I will say something and have to pause, because they are her exact words. It’s those moments when I realize, I am much like my mother.

It was my good fortune to marry into a family that I also love. My mother-in-law has been like a mother. In fact she told me long ago, “you can call me Mom”. I do and I respect and value her opinions. She raised two children of her own, after all. My husband is a wonderful man and his sister is like the sister I never had. I am pretty lucky!

So to all you Moms out there, everywhere, enjoy your day. To all of you celebrating your Mothers enjoy every moment. Time is fleeting and goes by in the blink of an eye. The time to celebrate and love is now. Lets treat these wonderful women with all the joy and appreciation they deserve. I truly hope your day is filled with all the things you love and make you happy.

This one is for you Jeanette ……. wherever you are! I love you!

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Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

Air Fried Cannoli

Okay, so I was watching Giada this morning from her rooftop in Florence, Italy. She proceeded to make cannoli with a renowned pastry chef. It’s not bad enough that she is willowy, well endowed, gorgeous, and the grand daughter of Oscar De Laurentis. She also has a smile that goes on for days, and the ability to eat whatever she wants.  I am for lack of a better word, envious. What a life!

Needless to say after watching this episode I had the greatest desire for a cannoli. What if I could make the cannoli shells in my air fryer? It would definitely be more waist friendly but it still has to have good texture and flavor. After looking up several recipes on the internet I came up with this version.

While it looks like there are a lot of steps they are short and simple. My cannoli tubes came from Amazon.com and were very inexpensive. Just make sure you use caution when removing them from your air fryer, they will be very hot. I used tongs, being careful not to break the shells.

By my calculations for 30 servings, my recipe is 5 Smart Points per cannoli. You can add some grated chocolate, chopped nuts, or chopped candied cherries. Any extras will also add additional points. So pick your poison! I liked mine without the fanfare.

Air Fryer Cannoli

Ingredients:

Shells:

  • 4 C all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 C white wine

Filling:

  • 1 lb ricotta cheese, drained
  • 3/4 C powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t cinnamon

Directions:

Filling:

  1. Drain the ricotta for about 1-2 hours. I use a paper towel lined fine mesh sieve over a bowl.
  2. Combine the ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Use a hand mixer or a hand whip.
  3. Put filling into a piping bag, I use baggies, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Shells:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cut in butter
  3. Add egg yolks; stir with a fork
  4. Stir in wine, 1 T at a time, using a fork until the dough clings together
  5. Form a ball with the dough and let stand for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Take a small amoutn of dough at a time, keeping the remainder covered. Roll dough almost paper thin, on a well floured surface.
  7. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, or you can use a glass (martini glass works well) and cut into circles. Keep covered until ready to fry.
  8. Roll each circle of dough around a metal cannoli tube that has been lightly rubbed with cooking spray, overlapping the ends and press to seal, flare out the edges slightly
  9. Place 4 of the cannoli in the air fryer at 380 degrees for 5 minutes, open the air fryer and turn them over and fry for an additional 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from the fryer and place seam side down on a paper towel.
  11. Let cool a minute or two before trying to remove the cannoli form. Hold the cannoli shell down on the paper towel and carefully slide the tube out on one end. Leave them on the paper towel to cool completely.

Filling the cannoli:

  1. Cut a hole in the piping bag and fill each cannoli at both ends, being carefull not over or under fill them. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, lightly.
  2. Serve immediately

Note: Unfilled shells can be stored in an airtight container for serveral days prior to filling. Fill as needed and always serve immediately.

 

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo