Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy Halloween

2015-10-27 10.09.03 - MUMMY

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!


Three Bean Chili and Sour Cream Corn Bread

2015-10-27 17.08.34- CHILI INTRO

Hi everyone,

 In my Halloween post, I mentioned that my traditional menu for the adults was my Three Bean Chili with Sour Cream Cornbread. I received a few emails asking me for the recipe so I am sharing it with you today. I use ground turkey for my chili but you can easily substitute ground beef…..

Remember to taste your food for seasonings as you go along and build your flavors…

Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

(Click photos to enlarge)

Turkey and Three Bean Chili

2015-10-27 17.08.10- CHILI WITH TOPPING


1- 2 tbsp. olive olive

1 large onion- diced (1 cup)

4 garlic cloves – minced

2 bell peppers- diced (I use one green and one red just for color)

3 carrots- diced in coins

2 (1 lb.) pkgs. of ground turkey OR ground beef

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

1 capful of hot sauce (Frank’s red hot or Revenge)

4 tsp. of green chiles (fire roasted in a can found in the Mexican food aisle- I use the entire 4 oz. can of MILD because I find if I don’t use them all at once, I just end up throwing them out.

2 cups of water

1 ( 28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15.5 oz) can pink beans (or pinto beans), drained and rinsed

½ cup green scallions plus additional for garnish

1 bag of shredded cheese (cheddar, jalapeno or Mexican blend) for garnish

Sour cream for garnish

Optional–Chipolte peppers in adobo sauce (also in a can in the Mexican food aisle). These are very spicy so be careful…I usually use 1 or 2 chopped up because I like heat in my chili. You can freeze the rest for another meal.

Optional – for some added spice, I use a squirt of sriracha sauce ( You can tell I like spicy)


Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat.

Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, combine your spices, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.

After the vegetables are soft, ADD the spice mixture and stir well to incorporate the spices and vegetables. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the ground turkey or beef, raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon into bite size pieces, until the meat is no longer pink.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and stir in the tomatoes, water, green chiles, hot sauce and scallions.

Add the chopped chipolte chiles in adobo sauce and sriracha, if using.

Cook partially covered, stirring from time to time for 30 minutes.

Remember, taste for seasonings!

Stir in the beans and continue cooking , partially covered, 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper before serving.

Garnish with shredded Hot Jalapeno, cheddar or Mexican cheese, dollop of sour cream and additional scallions.

Serve with Sour Cream Cornbread (recipe to follow)

Sour Cream Cornbread

2015-10-27 17.02.41- CORNBREAD

(To get the top crusty -I used a lot of butter on top of the cornbread before baking but that is not really part of the recipe- just a personal preference- Follow the recipe as written and your corn bread will be lighter in color.)

You will need an 8 X 8 square pan

(I prefer a glass pan, I think it cooks evenly in glass)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees


1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt 

1 cup full fat sour cream

1/4 cup whole milk

1 egg (beaten)

2 TBSP. melted butter

Additional butter and raw honey for garnish


In a bowl mix all your dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl mix all your wet ingredients – sour cream, milk, beaten egg and melted butter. Whisk until well combined

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. (Batter will be very sticky)

Pour the batter into a greased, 8 X 8 square pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean

Cut into squares. Best served warm with extra butter or raw honey.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


Thank you for visiting my blog.

 Please ask your family and friends to become members.

Follow me on facebook or follow the blog directly from the website. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.




Happy Halloween

2015-10-27 08.21.16- PEEPS GHOST

Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe that October is almost over. My mind is still back at Labor Day.

Is it me or does it seem as if September to December fly by? Maybe it’s because the Halloween candy is out in August and the Christmas decorations are out in September. 

When I was a child, we didn’t see the decorations for the holidays until that particular holiday was upon us and I think we were all much calmer and enjoyed each holiday much better.

The holidays seemed special back then.

I am going to miss October. There are so many things that I love about thimonth that I don’t want to see go away so fast. I love pumpkins and mums on the front steps, apple picking, apple cider, apple cider donuts (my favorite), plus pumpkin & apple pies.

But most of all, I just love decorating for Fall and Halloween.

(Click on photos to enlarge)


(I took this picture at Krupski Farm- Long Island, NY)

What other time of year can you have more candy in the house than you will ever need at one time with no explanations as to why and no guilt ?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Of course we all buy a bag (or two) of our favorite candy just for ourselves and not for the trick or treaters coming to our doors. Admit it, we all do it, I’m not judging. I have a weakness for Milky Way Simply Caramel and peanut M & M’s.

I am not into the scary zombies on my front lawn, skeletons, coffins or bloody tablescapes. No, I like to decorate in a different direction. I have been known to display a few “friendly” ghosts here and there outside among my pumpkins, a witches hat decoration on the door and a few bats hanging around. I don’t want to scare the little ones when they come to the door to trick or treat.

I love to see the costumes on the little ones and even the costumes on the pets. I remember preparing my son’s costumes when he was a child. How excited all the kids were while making that big decision as to what to be dressed up as. All the thought that went into the final decision.

Well, if you think about it, to a young child, this is one of the most important choices they will have to make all year; so you have to have patience while they make this big decision.

 I have to say, as crazy as it was getting the Halloween costumes & the parties ready, I sometimes get melancholy for those days and would love to see another Ninja, Power Ranger, or Harry Potter costume hanging around the house with a plastic pumpkin full of candy that I would have to go through before my son even took a bite of  “anything”.

So, let’s get started on this year’s Halloween tablescape…

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-10-27 - INTRO - USE

If I was preparing this tablescape back in the day when my son was a child, it would definitely be a buffet and the tableware would be ALL paper goods and plastic dishes. The centerpiece would have NO candles and would probably just be a large metal spider basket full of cans of Silly String and some small toys – there is just so much candy you can give them. (Is Silly String still even sold today, or have I just shown my age?).

The menu is always the same; Pizza for the kids and for the adults, 3 Bean Turkey Chili with Sour Cream Cornbread.

But this year, I am doing a sit down Halloween table, adults only.

I am starting off with an orange tablecloth with a design of black spiders and black bats on a spider web. 

2015-10-26 09.11.14- HALLOWEEN TABLECLOTH

The napkins are plain and simple. Black napkins with clear Lucite napkin rings.

2015-10-27 09.59.17 - NAPKIN USE

I bought a few plastic spider rings to be added to the napkin ring for a little whimsy and to break up the solid black a little bit. 

2015-10-27 09.59.32- SPIDER RING

I found these great black, orange and white woven placemats in Homegoods that just scream (no pun intended) Halloween and really add to the table. There are two different designs.

One placemat is entirely the orange, black and white pattern. 

2015-10-26 10.59.13- HALLOWEEN PLACEMAT SOLID

The other placemat only has the border in the orange, black and white pattern.

2015-10-26 10.59.24- HALLOWEEN PLACEMAT BORDER

No need for a charger plate with these placemats, because the placemat with the border outlines the dishes perfectly. I am using bright orange ceramic dinner plates and I went with a themed paper plate for the dessert plates. The chili of course will be served in individual ceramic bowls.

2015-10-26 11.01.38- DISHES

Of course for Halloween, the flatware will be black.

2015-10-26 10.02.27 HALLOWEEN FLATWARE

 The glassware for this tablescape are Halloween tumblers with various Halloween designs circling the glass. I found these glasses in Marshall’s many years ago and I use them every year. For an additional added touch, I am using orange and black paper straws.

2015-10-27 12.26.14- GLASSWARE

I am starting off the centerpiece with a few candelabras covered in spider webs. For this adult table, I will light the black tapered candles. I think it’s a nice touch. I wouldn’t recommend tapered candles with children around.

2015-10-27 20.27.1 CANDELABRA

The main focus of the centerpiece is a large metal spider shaped basket complete with a metal spider on the rim (and a fuzzy one thrown in the basket) filled with Halloween shred and what else- CANDY.

2015-10-27 12.25.42 - SPIDER BASKET

Notice the M & M’s and Milky Way bars?  I told you I have a weakness.

2015-10-27 10.01.32 - CANDY BOWL

In addition to the candelabras, I have to have more candles when we lower the lights to eat, so I have added black and orange votive candle holders around the table. I am using pumpkin spice tea light candles and the house smells wonderful.

2015-10-26 10.33.31- CANDLES USE

The table scatter will be none other than candy corn. I think that I am one of the few people who actually EAT candy corn and like it. Of course, I eat each color separately. I don’t know why, a childhood thing.

In addition to the candy corn, a Halloween table just wouldn’t be complete without sugar and honey pumpkin candies and Peeps (my favorite) in the shape of Ghosts.

2015-10-26 11.42.42 - CANDY # 1

My table accents are various shaped Halloween candy dishes. The set includes a bat, cat, pumpkin and ghost. I bought these a few years ago in Sur La Table and this is the first year that I am using them. I packed them so well in my attic Halloween box, I forgot about them. They will soon be filled with candy.

2015-10-26 10.04.22- HALLOWEEN CANDY DISHES

One of my favorite additions every year to my table, is my Frankenstein mug (respectfully known around here as Frankie). He was the base for a bouquet of flowers I received many years ago. Today he is the holder for pretzel sticks. I decided to decorate the pretzels sticks by adding plastic witches fingers. 

2015-10-27 10.05.32- FRANKIE

Another table accent that I usually just use as a decoration on my entrance table by the front door are Halloween salt and pepper shakers. A cute cat and pumpkin and ghost and pumpkin. I have had these so long I don’t even remember where I got them from.

2015-10-26 11.47.46 -HALLOWEEN SALT AND PEPPER

The menu will always stay the same, since it is now a tradition with pizza and chili; but dessert will be Halloween cupcakes in spider cupcake holders. I have added a few sugar googly eyes and sprinkles to each cupcake.

Aren’t these the cutest cupcake holders? I just love them. When I saw them in Crate and Barrel a few years back, I was so happy to find them, you would have thought I won lotto.

2015-10-27 12.24.28 - SPIDER CUPCAKES

I am now ready for all the trick or treaters and of course a piece of candy here and there. (Honestly, I can’t wait until Halloween. I am writing this post and eating peanut M & M’s.) 

I hope you and your family have a very Happy and Safe Halloween!!

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!


2015-10-27 12.38.31- INTRO 2

2015-10-27 10.09.03 - MUMMY

Place Setting

2015-10-27 12.41.50 - PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Tablecloth from Etsy

Napkins from Amazon

Clear napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Dinner plate from Dollar Tree

Dessert plate from Party City

Spider Bowl from Crate and Barrel

Spider Cupcake holders from Crate and Barrel

Black flatware from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Halloween glassware from Marshall’s

Placemats from Homegoods

Candelabras from Terry’s Village

Orange and black votive candle holders from Dollar Tree

Spider webs and candy from Party City

 Halloween shred and cupcake decorations from Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Frankie mug from a previous floral arrangement

Orange and black paper straws from Amazon

Halloween salt and pepper shakers- very old, forgot from where

Thank you for visiting my blog.

 Please ask your family and friends to become members.

Follow me on Facebook or follow the blog directly from the website. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.


(Photo credit:

One More Seaside Dinner

2015-07-22 18.35.33- SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS for blog

Hi everyone,

This post was written last weekend when we were all waiting for the hurricane & nor’easter.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

2015-10-09 23.23.09- SEA INTRO

Okay, it is October 3, 2015 and Autumn has only officially been here for 10 days and I miss the Summer already. Today it was cold, rainy and plain disgusting outside; so what do you do to cheer up?

Some people make soup on days like today, which is all well and good and I will be doing that during the week. Some people stay in pajamas and watch movies all day, which is also good. But for me, I cook! Today I set a beach themed tablescape. I just had to hold on to one more seaside dinner….

 I was in the mood for Linguine with Clam Sauce today, so Bob went out and bought 2 dozen little neck clams for me. He is an angel. He went out in the worst weather- a nor’easter.

I just had to have a beach themed tablescape if I was going to have a seafood meal.

2015-10-09 23.19.34 BUFFET

I am desperately missing the beach, the sun, the sand and the sound of the waves.

I dug out some of my summer dishes and accessories which I already packed away for the season, but I didn’t mind the extra work to unpack them. Besides, Bob is a great assistant. I direct and he does all the lifting. My husband is priceless!

I have a lot of nautical and fish dishes that I have accumulated over the years but one of my favorites is the Bella Seashell dishes I purchased over 15 years ago. The colors are both soothing and cheery at the same time and that is what this rainy cold day needed. So let’s get started on this dreary October day.

The dishes are coral, aqua, burgundy and seafoam green earthenware with hand painted starfish and seashells on an off white background. When I look at this pattern, it reminds me of all the beautiful shells at the beach and I can almost smell the ocean.

Just in case you are interested there are only 240 days until Memorial Day from today. I keep telling myself I can make it.

2015-10-09 23.59.13 DINNER PLATE

2015-10-09 23.58.44 SALAD PLATE

I am using a Nicole Miller tablecloth that has all the same colors of the dishes but in a very muted pastel (I just love Nicole Miller patterns). I thought that this would be a great back drop for the dishes so it wouldn’t over power the table but still keep the theme going.

2015-10-06 - TABLECLOTH

Next, a seafoam green woven placemat and a white ceramic charger plate. The seafoam green picks up another color featured on the dishes.

2015-10-09 22.58.10 PLACEMAT AND CHARGER

I didn’t buy the matching napkins to the tablecloth because sometimes I would rather pick up individual colors from the dishes I am using; so I chose coral napkins to feature yet another dish color.

I was so excited to find nautical rope napkin rings at the end of the season and I knew they would be perfect for a beach tablescape. I also have nautical rope plates — but we’ll get to that on another tablescape.

2015-10-06 12.13.03 CORAL NAPKIN AND RING

The flatware that I am using happens to be the only nautical themed set that I have (so far) and they have adorable sailboats with a nautical rope trim design on the handle.

2015-10-09 23.30.35 FLATWARE

I was going to use peach long stem glass goblets for this tablescape, but then the goblets would be too high and block the centerpiece. Instead, I chose small water tumblers with aqua schools of fish circling the glass.

2015-10-09 23.03.32 GLASSWARE

If you visit the beach as often as I do in the summer, not only do you see Seagulls flying around but you can usually see Sandpipers. They are cute little birds that you see while they are searching in the mud and sand for food. 

While I was browsing on Amazon one night for some beach decor, I came across this trio of brown and creme wooden sandpiper statues, and I knew immediately that they would be just perfect for a centerpiece. So the purchase was made and I am now adding them to my tablescape. I am so happy with this purchase.

I might even keep them out next summer on an end table in the living room as a nice summer decoration.

2015-10-09 23.02.17 SANDPIPERS

Of course the centerpiece had to include some seashells and I am using some of my “vacation seashells”. I mentioned this in another post that these shells have been collected from our past vacations.

A souvenir that brings back great memories for me.

For an extra little beach touch, I decided to accent the centerpiece with fish netting and some glass gems along with the shells to add a little sparkle to the table.

2015-10-09 23.09.07 GEMS

2015-10-09 23.21.15 CENTERPIECE

You know how much I love candles on the table by now, so I am using clam shell tea light holders and filling them with sand to hold the candles in place. The tea light holders were another great find last year in Pier 1.

I think that candles bring such a pretty soft glow to any table

2015-10-09 23.29.36 CANDLES

A few accent pieces of mini ceramic starfish plates and a seashell salt and pepper shaker pulls the table together.

2015-10-06 12.17.12 - STARFISH DISH

2015-10-06 12.14.54 -SEASHELL SP

Oh, before I forget. My latest find that I am not using today, but had to display on the table just to show you, is a vintage ceramic soup tureen with a pastel seashell design. I just love this tureen. The colors match the tablecloth perfectly. I bought this late in the season and never had the opportunity of using it yet. But I see a big pot of New England Clam Chowder filling this bowl next summer.

(A little secret: I bought this soup tureen a month ago in the car on the thruway while we were driving home from my son’s house. I just love the Ipad on long trips. Bob can’t believe that I can shop in a moving vehicle.)

2015-10-09 23.22.20 TUREEN

Now the tablescape is complete.

I am now ready for my Linguine with Clam Sauce and a taste of the summer and the sea.

I can’t believe I did this, but I forgot to take a photo of today’s meal. I was so busy unpacking the soup tureen that I completely forgot. The photo I posted above is the Linguine and Clam Sauce I made a few weeks ago that I posted on Facebook. I just wanted to show you what the final product looks like.

I hope this tablescape brightened your afternoon.

It certainly helped me get through a rainy, dreary day.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!


2015-10-09 23.18.09 INTRO 2

Place Setting

2015-10-09 23.15.45 PLACE SETTING

Tablescape Details

Bella Seashell dishes from a purchase 15 years ago…

Nicole Miller seashell tablecloth from Amazon

Nautical rope napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Coral napkins from Amazon

Seafoam green placemats from Pier 1

White chargers from Pfaltzgraff

Nautical Sailboat flatware from Towle

Fish glassware from Homegoods

Clam shell tea light holders from Pier 1

Fish Net from Party City

Colored Gems from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Seashells from past vacations

Ceramic starfish from Homegoods

Seashell salt and pepper shakers from Pier 1

Wooden Sandpiper statues from Amazon

Seashell soup tureen from Etsy

Thank you for visiting my blog.

 Please ask your family and friends to become members.

Follow me on Facebook or follow the blog directly from the website. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

beach-sign2-2- beach sign 2

(Photo credit:

Polenta with Mushroom and Sausage Sauce

2015-10-05 19.04.40

Hi everyone, 

Today I was inspired by my dear friend Marie Renello of Proud Italian Cook to make polenta. I saw her post and it brought back a rush of memories about my grandmother. It just so happened that I had all the ingredients in the house and I took that as a sign to make my rendition of polenta.

For those of you who are not familiar, Polenta is cornmeal. Sort of like the “Italian grits”. The original polenta was cooked stove top, low and SLOW. And I mean slow. I would remember my grandmother or mom mixing the polenta in simmering water and salt for close to 45 minutes, (they had great upper body strength) then adding cheese and butter once it became thick and creamy.

Thank God polenta now comes in an instant version that you only need to stir for 5 minutes.

Back in the day, when grandma called and said it was “polenta night”, everyone went over. She served the polenta on a wooden pastry board and put the mushroom sauce on top. This was not just any board. It was huge and used specifically for polenta. She had it stored all wrapped up in a clean bed sheet in her closet.

We all sat around the board at the dining room table and grandma would spread the polenta out of her saucepan and top it with her famous mushroom sauce. Everyone picked their spot and started to eat. Polenta starts to get hard around the edges and a little chunky at room temperature and that was always the time that my cousins and I wanted to become creative and make a design in the polenta.

I can’t tell you how many times we ate the polenta with the goal of making it look like the boot of Italy – never happened.

If we had company for dinner outside the immediate family, grandma served the polenta in bowls with her sauce. Not nearly as much fun.

So after strolling down memory lane today, I made my version of polenta with mushroom sauce. I add sausage to my version for a little added kick.

I didn’t eat my polenta tonight off a board but I was basking in the memories the polenta brought back to me. The days when all my family was still with us and we were laughing and eating. We were always eating.

Once thought of as a peasant meal has now become quite popular in Italian restaurants.

I hope you try this recipe (with the instant polenta) and enjoy.

(Please let me know if you try it. I am curious as to what you think).

I usually serve my polenta in shallow bowls and take the remainder from the saucepan and spread it out onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan. Spread the polenta out as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened I cut rounds out of the polenta (with a wine glass or cookie cutter) and save them wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator.

You can refrigerate for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Another great tip from my MOM…

Fry the polenta slices the next morning in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Add a fried egg and you now have a polenta breakfast.


Polenta with Mushroom and Sausage Sauce


1 ( 16 oz. ) box of instant polenta 

1- 1/2  lbs. mixed mushrooms (white button and baby bellas are a good choice)- diced

3 sausage links- I usually use 2 hot and 1 sweet- casings removed

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 large onion- chopped

2 cloves of garlic-minced

salt and pepper to taste

dash of red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine 

1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth

2 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced

2 tsp. corn starch OR 1/2 cup heavy cream

8 oz. unsalted tomato sauce

5 oz. unsalted butter – divided

1 cup grated cheese

1/2  tsp. ground fennel (optional)


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the sausage meat and brown.

Add another pinch of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground fennel and mix well with the onion / sausage mixture. (Adjust spices to your liking).

Add the mushrooms and saute until soft with a golden brown color. 

Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan from the sausage.

Cook until wine has evaporated.

Add the 8 oz. can of unsalted tomato sauce and 2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley. 

Add the beef or vegetable broth reserving 1/4 cup of broth.

Stir the 1/4 cup broth with the 2 tsp. cornstarch until dissolved. Add the cornstarch and broth mixture to the skillet to thicken the sauce. * 1/2 cup heavy cream can be substituted for the cornstarch and broth mixture.

Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Taste for seasoning.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare your polenta according to package directions. ( I usually make the entire box and freeze some of the leftover polenta for another meal).

When the polenta is done add 3 tbsp. butter and 1 cup (or more) grated cheese. Mix well and then take off the heat.

Once the sauce is done, take it off heat and add 2 tbsp. butter and mix well.

Ladle the polenta into shallow bowls if you are not going to be using a pastry board and top with the sauce. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

Buon Appetito!