I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!

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A DIY Paint and Sip Party

Paint and Sip joints are all the rage now, but it’s super easy and fun to have your own at home. And it’s the perfect way to spend a night in with family or friends- guys and girls alike! And exactly how we celebrated my cousins upcoming milestone birthday! Just head to your local craft store (don’t forget the coupons) to get your supplies. You’ll need a canvas, paint brushes and paint. There are easy paint tutorials online you can use as a guide. Either find one before your party and purchase the paint colors they tell you, or do what my cousins and I did and just buy one of each paint color to mix and match! 

Get some fun napkins and party decorations, purchase your favorite wine and of course…. as any good gathering will have… plan your menu. 

One of my favorite party appetizers are Greek meatballs. It’s easy to make and also easy to eat! Just mix together 1 lb turkey chop meat with 1/2 breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup water, 1 egg, 1 tsp oil, 1 tbs garlic powder, 1/2 tbs onion powder, 1 tsp oregano, salt and pepper. Form your balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Done. Pop them in your mouth with a toothpick as your hands maaaay just be filled with paint!

With the wind howling and the rain pounding down as a nasty storm moved through the northeast last night, this was the perfect way to spend an evening in celebrating. Especially as the painting of choice was a beautiful ocean sunset. Have fun developing your DIY paint party and the food to go along with it!


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World Pasta Day Vodka Sauce

Pasta is just so comforting, and that was exactly what I needed today. And how perfect on World Pasta Day! One of my favorite sauces is Vodka Sauce. And it’s super easy to make and can be pretty forgiving once you have the base down. There are also some pretty good jar version out there on the market if you don’t have the time to let this sauce simmer on your stove for a while. Today, I’ll share with you my vodka sauce recipe. I was once told that it doesn’t matter what kind of pasta you make with what kind of sauce… But I’ll respectively disagree with this statement and say please make this with rigatoni. 🙂 It’s truly the best! 


2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 basil leaf
Salt and pepper
2 oz vodka
1-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Sautée the garlic in the oil until just fragrant. Do not burn. Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper, sugar, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Let this simmer for 2 hours. In the last 10 minutes, add the vodka, the heavy cream and the cheese. I provided guidelines, but the forgiving part of this sauce is adding as much cream as you’d like the sauce to me light and as much cheese to taste. Have fun with this! 

Enjoy with a Caprese salad and beautiful glass of wine. With a friend, for a party, or on your couch under your favorite blanket binge watching tv. Comforting and delicious. 

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Chicken filled Empanades

“Make some emapandes for our football gathering”…. challenge accepted, of course. I love these challenges when I have never made the dish before! I recently purchased a big screen tv so I’ve been excited to host a Sunday Funday around football, which really means around food but no one will complain about the size of my tv! I’ve shared some of my game day favorites in the past, but I had fun theming this one, and then of course challenging myself with the empanadas. Today I brought a little Oktoberfest into the menu by making bratwursts in a blanket with a sauerkraut stone ground mustard dipping sauce, I made my pumpkin chili for some feelings of fall, nachos dip football of course, and then a few other odds and ends. Food is the second most important thing at any gathering, only being beat out by the company of course, so make it good! Now on to the empanadas. 

You can either purchase pre-made pie crust dough at the supermarket or you can make your own. Making your own dough is actually pretty easy. But given the timing and the other items on my menu I opted to go pre-made today. 

For the filling, I looked at a few recipes then went with my own inspiration. Again taking some help from the store, I bought one of those pre-made roasted chickens as my base.  Here’s what I did. 


1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
1/4 cup wine
7 oz can diced tomatoes with the juice
1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbs chili pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper


Mix all ingredients together. Roll out each of the pie crusts. Roll slightly thinner and cut circles with a 3 inch biscuit cutter or a round cookie cutter. (You can also make them larger if you are making them as a meal). 

Once the circles are cut, roll them out slightly again. Fill the circles with a 1 tsp – 1 1/2 tsp of filling.  

With a little water, wet the edges of the dough. Fold the dough over to close the empanadas and press together with a fork to seal the edge.  Brush the top with an egg wash. 

Fry in vegetable oil until browned on both sides. Serve with salsa or chimichurri sauce. 

It’s a shame the Jets lost, but these empanadas and the rest of the menu were a touchdown (haha)! Make your Sundays fun with food. 

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Girls night sake

Needing a girls night badly this week, this is exactly on the docket for tonight. I’ve got everything needed for a perfect girls night – my cousin, my godmother, my Thursday night ladies (Greys, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder – thank you ABC), yummy food and alcohol. (Always concentrated around food, see!) Girls night alcohol usually consists of a fruity, sparkling wine, but tonight I have this amazing sake. Yes, it’s really good! I’m not a sake drinker at all. Can’t get into it. But a recent trip upstate introduced me and my cousin to this sparkling sweet sake and liked it. And we actually found it in a local store. So tonight, with sushi as our food of choice this girly sake is perfect. I’m even “channeling” my mom into my girls night using a shot glass she brought me back from Aruba bc who has sake glasses laying around at home? Now, onto Grey’s Anatomy, which I know the songs tonight will make me shed a tear… Cheers to girls night and sake! 

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When things don’t make sense, you cook…

Because cooking always makes sense. The blending of ingredients, the science of the combinations and reactions, the emotions of people as a result. Cooking always relaxes me. Something about the ease I can move around my kitchen, or know how precisely to season, or adding salt in baking heightens the other ingredients, or that adding sugar helps caramelize onions without burning them… these things make sense to me. Food is also always at the center of bringing people together. It’s the foundation of holidays and parties, it’s how friends gather who haven’t seen each other in ages, it’s how you impress people you feel the desire to impress. Food makes people happy, it makes people fall into a dream state, it makes people emotional making new memories and thinking of old ones. Cooking makes sense. And so does this recipe throwback. For all the reasons above…. 


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*Cookie Heaven*

What’s better after a long weekend in the Hampton’s than a stop at Levain Bakery for their all famous chocolate chip wanut cookies? Not much in a line full of traffic out! It’s the perfect fuel for the drive home. Their original location is in the city but they opened up a location on the east end of Long Island for city vacationers and I was told I needed to try it. And boy did their cookies live up to their expectation! Crisp on the outside, chewy warm melted goodness on the inside. And they are huge!! Definitely a must try but don’t be surprised when a long line greets you. That’s how good these are! 🙂

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Apple Butter Roast Chicken

Missing my food? Here’s a good start to fall dish I dreamt up this Sunday afternoon. I’ve mentioned before that fall is my favorite time of year, and with it rolling in this weekend with cool weather, it felt wonderful having the windows open, the cool breeze flowing in, my pumpkin candle burning, and the oven on cooking this delicious meal. The smell of roasted chicken and apples which filled the apartment was incredible. Definitely make the time to try this one this fall after your apple picking adventures or just by picking some up at the supermarket! 


2 tbs butter (I used my lactose free butter)
1 gala Apple, halved
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 whole chicken
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small red onion, sliced
1 bottle beer
1/2 cup chicken broth
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper


Don’t these ingredients just look so pretty?

In a food processor, blend together the butter, half an apple, rosemary, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. This is going to be your rub for the chicken. 

Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Start by carefully separating the skin from the chicken, leaving it intact to form a pocket. You’re going to take some of the butter and rub it into the meat under the skin. 

Use the remaining butter mixture to coat the outside of the chicken. This will create a beautiful crust and also drip down into the pan for flavor. I know, this doesn’t look the prettiest, but keep going! 

Place the carrots, potato, onion and remaining apple (sliced) around the pan. Add the beer and the chicken broth. Oil once around the pan and season with salt and pepper. 

Bake at 350 for 2 hours – see the beautiful crust?! Serve with your favorite fall vegetable. It was perfect with roasted brussel sprouts. This one seems to be a keeper!