Category Archives: Entertaining

You’re Never Too Old for Peanut Butter & Jelly … Martinis

PB and J Martini

Peanut Butter and Jelly – that classic combo nearly every child has adored – has been honored with it’s own day of national recognition. A day on which millions will take a huge bite out of tradition, ceremoniously gluing globs of goo-covered bread to the roofs of their mouths marking the occasion with the pomp it deserves. I, on the other hand, choose to pay homage to this staple of the American lunch box with a cocktail!

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the PB&J sandwich. It could have something to do with the fact that my father once sent me off to school with his own version of the high protein power lunch… Peanut Butter, Jelly & ANTS.

Dear Old Dad mistook the sugar coated carcasses of suicidal insects for strawberry seeds in mom’s homemade jelly. You can imagine how that might sour one on the prospect of ever eating another PB&J. But, I grew up … and found vodka.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Martini

 

  • 1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Strawberry Jelly
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 4-6 Jiggers Strawberry (or plain) Vodka
  • 1/2 Cup Animal Crackers

Combine Peanut Butter with an equal amount of water. Whisk over medium heat until combined. This makes a simple syrup that should be smooth and liquid. Add more water as needed. Set aside and allow to cool. Repeat this process with the jelly.

Place animal crackers in a ziplock bag. Crush them with a rolling pin and pour them on to a shallow plate. Dip the rims of the martini glasses into the jelly simple syrup and roll them in the cookie crumbs to rim the glass. This make for a scrumptious flavor that pays a decant homage to the famed sandwich.

Fill a large martini shaker with ice. Pour in vodka and both syrups. Shake well. Strain out into your rimmed glasses.

pbj martini 1

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl Food and a Super Hero Cookoff

I’m not quite fully recovered from my Chargers loss to the Broncos, but I won’t let that keep me from watching the Super Bowl with my family this weekend and reveling in the fact that Tom Brady will be sitting on a sofa somewhere doing the same thing.

Nearly as important to us as the game is the Pool Grid my husband draws up every year (oh wait, is that legal? Doh!) Even more important to them is… THE. FOOD. super bowl party blueprints

I’m not joking here people, this household takes their football food seriously. I have years worth of clipped, handed-down and family favorite recipes. We each get to pick one thing we want to make the roster on game day. Heck, even the six-year-old has been stalking Party Blueprints and their Pinboards for inspiration. I gain 5 pounds just looking at their photos—–>

There is something, or rather someone, missing this year though.

Our Marine.

He won’t be slamming down sliders, taking on the fire-wing challenge or digging into Mom’s Famous Bean Dip. He won’t likely even get to watch the game. For him it will be MRE’s and Infantry.

Ah, but we’ve found a way to be Semper Fidelis with our Marine and all those thousands of service women and men who’ve had to eat an MRE (like me.)

The National Museum of the Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off!

2013-12-06 11.37.22What is an MRE, you ask? It is a military field ration, or “Meal Ready To Eat”. Frankly, they make that mystery meat you ate in Jr. High seem worthy of a culinary award. They serve the function of getting calories into those serving in the field, and don’t really spare much for taste.

Gifted is the cook that can take one of these pouches, the potions and powders within, the Sterno burner it comes with, a little water and not much else and turn it into something tasty. That is the gauntlet taken up by the brave few at the annual Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off. Last year’s winner was Craig Allen of Headquarters Marine Corps, this year the winner will be crowned on February 1, 2014… just in time for the Super Bowl! MRE

We’ll be packing up the “Platoon” and heading down to check out these Super Heroes cook-off and we might just come back with a new game day recipe in solidarity for our Marine and in thanks to all those who have had to suffer through eating an MRE!

Want to check out the competition? Here is more info on the event and visiting museum;

Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off

Location: National Marine Corps Museum 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway in Triangle, VA

Event Date/Time: Saturday February 1, at 12:00-2:00 pm in the Museum’s Leatherneck Gallery (note: if you missed it this year, no worries this is an annual event. Check the museum website for more information)

Admission: FREE (we like free!)

The National Marine Corp Museum is open to the public 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, both parking and admission are free. For more information visit their website at www.usmcmuseum.org

No Matter Where You are: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

It’s Fat Tuesday Mon Ami! The one magical day in the year where gluttony is celebrated in its many forms, both tasty and tasteless. In my early twenties I made my first pilgrimage to the Crescent City. I was captivated by the art, the song, the mood of this one-of-a-kind city. Okay, I might have been wooed by a Hurricane too. Sadly it would be many years before I’d venture back to this Spanish Moss laden Brigadoon. Unfortunately it would be a post Catrina trip. Even years removed from the ravages of Catrina and her aftermath, NOLA still bears the scars.

No matter the time -nor distance- between The Cornstalk Hotel, Muriel’s on Jackson Square, Preservation Hall and I, I’ve always managed to keep a bit of NOLA with me. Partly through photographs, but mostly through food. That is the beauty of Fat Tuesday, no matter where you are you can make your own “New Orleans”.  What follows are some links to just a few of my favorite recipes and traditions for Mardi Gras.

Oh and by the way, if you think a trip to NOLA is out of the question because you’ve got offspring in tow. Think again, and check out this great piece on Family-Friendly New Orleans. Note: I’d still steer clear of Bourbon with the babies. <—see what I did there?

Mardi Gras at Casa DiPaola this year

Shrimp & Grits (this version from Bon Appetite puts an egg on top, not traditional per se but I’m always one for putting and egg on it)

Muffuletta (note: Party Blueprints is a great place for all things food and fun. I’d totally live there if I could)

Forgotten Jambalaya (BONUS this one is a slow cooker recipe!)

Gorgonzola & Pear Tart (While not Cajun, Chef Gus Martin at Muriel’s on Jackson Square makes this slice of heaven that keeps me coming back. If I could get my hands on his recipe… I’d never share!)

Let the good times roll!

 

 

A Thing of Beauty!

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “Space is the breath of art”. Of course he was talking about the American Arts and Crafts movement and works of breath taking beauty. Then again don’t they say that; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ? Well get ready to BEHOLD beauty that every parent can appreciate.  I give you a work of art courtesy of the Traverse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My “Canvas” and Raw Materials: One teen, one exhibition in angst that is a tween age girl, two 6 and under rugrats, my muses – Scout by Bungalow shopping bags (you can fit the 4 year old in the big one it’s that big!), one fully stocked cooler (hello hummus!), one folding chair, two very well “loved” stuffies and because life is art and art is music one Raven amplifier and one electric guitar (jam session anyone?)

And now the beauty of amazing cargo space…..

 

 

 

 

 

THIS my Nuggetiers is a THING OF BEAUTY!

The Chevy Girls on the Go campaign is being sponsored by the Baltimore Area Chevy dealers. They are letting me test drive the Traverse for one month and providing me with gift cards for Girls on the Go missions as well as a camera to video tape my adventures. All opinions expressed are my own.

“Skinny” Dipping

Okay put that first thought you had on hold, this post is about food.. come’ on people! Of course if Johnny Depp had returned my calls about MANuary we could have gone in a whole new direction with this one. Alas, it was not to be. So we will rebound with SNACKS! And because we have ALL stuck with our resolutions this year we’ll make those snacks a bit more “skinny” with the help of Frito-Lay and my mad kitchen ninja skills. Thus the “Skinny” Dipping (punny aren’t I?)

Oh and yeah since I have this thing about “sharing” the nice folks of Frito-Lay have indulged me with a giveaway FOR YOU!

(stay tuned to the end of the post for details)

First we’ll head south of the border for my childhood comfort food with a twist.

Tasty Tamale Dip

1 8oz package low-fat cream cheese (room temp)

1 cup low-fat Mexican cheese blend (shredded) -reserve 1/4 cup for topping

1 can diced green chilies

2 tablespoons reduced sodium taco seasoning

1/2 cup green olives (sliced)

Hot sauce to taste (after all some like it hot)

Low fat sour cream and shredded lettuce for garnish (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor or medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients (accept reserved 1/4 cup of cheese) until well mixed. Place in a baking dish (I used a fun Mexican pottery dish). Top with reserved cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish as desired

Now here is the MOST IMPORTANT part. A tamale is a wonderful stuffed corn meal concoction that warms your belly and takes you to Mexico.. so you must have corn! How do we do that? By dipping Fritos Scoops into the warm cheesy goodness. Trust me it’s really good and a heck of a lot less work than an actual tamale!

Next we take a trip to Italy.. alright maybe it’s just a new take on an old dip but doesn’t a trip to Italy sound great?

Mexico meet Italy in this tasty dip!

Sicilian Salsa

2-3 Roma tomatoes (diced)

1-2 gloves of garlic (minced) the amount of garlic increases the “heat”

6-8 leaves basil (FRESH, chopped)

1/2 cup onion (chopped)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup olives (chopped) I use Greek but you can choose your favorite

1/4 cup Pine Nuts (toasted)

1/4 teaspoon Anchovy paste (optional)

cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

EASY PEASY PREP! Combine all ingredients accept oil, lemon zest and anchovy paste (if using) in a medium sized bowl. Add lemon and paste to the oil and stir until combined, pour over salsa mix and combine. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes prior to serving. We noshed on these with Tostitos Scoops.. it was like an Italian taco salad!

THE GIVEAWAY

Now that you’re all hungry and stuff how about we set you up with some Frito-Lay snacks and say $100 DOLLARS (in the form of an Amex gift card) to host a killer Super Bowl party or an out of this world snack fest? One lucky Nuggetier (aka reader) will win this fabu prize! And how you say? I’ll tell ya.

Required for entry:

Visit the Snack Chat blog (which is a treat in itself). Follow Frito-Lay on Twitter (@FritoLay) and come join me as a Frito-Lay fan on Facebook…it’s fun, trust me!  Come back here and leave me a comment telling me you did this and what your all time FAVORITE game day snack is (If you don’t dig football, don’t tell me. I’d have to not like you and neither of us want that, ha ha).

Want ONE more entry? Follow me on Twitter and tweet this:

“I’m going “skinny” dipping w/@DipaolaMomma to #win $100 & snacks from @FritoLay http://bit.ly/e1veIW

MAX of two entries per person. Contest ends January 31, 2011 at 10 pm (est). Winner will be chosen by random number generation and notified via email on or about  February 2, 2011

This is post was not sponsored by Frito-Lay however I was provided with monetary compensation in exchange for creating the ORIGINAL recipes featured in this piece. Prizes are being provided by a third party.