Habanero White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently, a friend of mine brought me a bag filled with hot peppers.

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Along with a bag was a description of each pepper with the corresponding levels of heat. Habaneros, jalapenos, thai peppers, cayennes, and even “the hottest pepper in the world.” Immediately my head was swarming with recipe ideas of sauces, guacamole, and salsa.

However, I remembered her husband making chocolate chip cookies with the peppers the following year and asked her which peppers he used. As it turns out, habaneros pair well with sweet foods, so they were the natural choice for my cookie.

I did some research and found this recipe to base my cookies off of.  They are sweet with a touch of heat. Plus it’s a clever way to use up some of those hot peppers you may have grown!

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Margarine or Butter, Softened
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Package (6 ounces) White Chocolate Chips
  • 4 – 6 Diced Habanero Peppers (*Note: I used 4)

Start by preheating the oven to 375°. (*Note: I used my convection oven for this. Generally you should bake at 25 degrees lower on convection, so I preheated to 350°.)

With a hand mixer, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, margarine, and egg. Then, mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be stiff and somewhat granulated in consistency.

Next, stir in the chocolate chips and diced habanero until well blended. I decided to go with 4 habaneros to play it on the safe side being this was my first time making the cookies. But in my opinion, the heat could’ve been turned up and I plan to use 5-6 the next time I make these.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough about two inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat. If you are using a regular oven, the original recipe calls for you to bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. However, on the convection oven, I baked for 20 minutes.

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Let cool. I’m really happy with how these cookies came out and will definitely be making another batch soon. Enjoy!!

Homemade Sunday Sauce

Growing up in my family meant pasta every Sunday for family dinner. It is one of those things I didn’t really appreciate as a kid, but now long for it. For generations, the women in my family have made their own Sunday sauce. My mom and husband always jab at me whenever I take the shortcut and buy a jar of sauce from the grocery store. Really though, this sauce recipe is so easy that buying the jar is just plain laziness! Once you’ve tried this sauce and realize how simple it is to make, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Red Pack Tomato Puree
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsely
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper

Start off by peeling 6 cloves of garlic and then cut them in half. Throw your garlic into a pot with some olive oil. Warm up the garlic and olive oil on the stove. Listen for the “crackle” noise of the garlic and oil. Once you hear this and smell the aroma, turn off the stove and let cool for a few minutes.

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Grab a can of Red Pack Tomato Puree. Mom says, “Red Pack, Red Pack, it’s gotta be Red Pack.”  Pour the can of Red Pack into the pot with a dash of salt, pepper, and some chopped parsley.

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Fill up the can halfway with water. This gets the extra puree off the sides of the can. Pour it into the pot. This water/sauce mixture thins the sauce a bit. Throw in a handful of fresh basil leaves.

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If you don’t have a beat up wooden spoon in your kitchen, I’m doubting your Italian heritage ;).

Let your sauce cook on medium heat until boiling, then lower heat. Continue cooking on low heat for about an hour and a half.

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That’s all! How easy is that?! I like to make a big batch on Sundays and then freeze the leftovers in a mason jar. Makes it so easy to just defrost whenever we need it.

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Serve over pasta, on meatballs, with stromboli, on chicken parmesan, or eggplant rollatini…really the possibilities are endless. For us…it will be baked ziti tonight and stromboli later on in the week!

Zucchini Pie

One of my favorite things to do is learn new Italian recipes from my mom. It’s important to me that I document these recipes to be able to share them with friends and family, currently and in the future. Recently she taught me how to make zucchini pie. Now, I’m not a huge zucchini fan. My husband doesn’t like it at all. Yet, in this pie, it just transforms into something amazing and you forget that you’re eating a healthy vegetable! Trust me, you will enjoy the biscuit like texture of this cheesy zucchini pie.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 2 zucchini
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3-1/2 cup romano cheese
  • 3 slices swiss cheese
  • 3 slices muenster cheese
  • Ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

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First, peel your zucchini.

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Cut the zucchini into “coins.”

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Chop the fresh mozzarella into small chunks.

With your hands, tear apart the slices of Swiss and muenster cheese.

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Crack your eggs into a bowl and wisk. Add the zucchini slices, mozzarella, muenster, and swiss.

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Now it’s time for the romano. According to mom, the recipe calls for “1 handful” of romano. Old school Italians aren’t ones for measuring! I’m estimating that to be about 1/3-1/2 cup, but she said the more the better!

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Add the oil and Bisquick to the bowl. Sprinkle some pepper and then mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands.

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Butter a baking dish and pour in the zucchini mixture.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Enjoy your zucchini pie!

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We love to eat this as a side dish at an outdoor BBQ, or at anytime of the year as a side to compliment our dinner. If you belong to a CSA, or grow your own zucchini, this is an excellent recipe to use it up!

Mastering the Tomboy Look

It’s safe to say Jenna Lyons is my personal style icon. Needless to say, I’m always excited to come across an article with any type of styling advice from Jenna.

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Spin Magazine recently published an article in which Jenna discussed tomboy style and offers 5 pieces of key advice. Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Choose a well-cut blazer.

item2.rendition.slideshowVertical.tomboy-style-madewellDuskfall Stretch Blazer: Madewell

Jenna suggests a style that isn’t “nipped in at the waist and that [has] a defined line between the shoulder and the front of the lapel.”

2. Be picky with your boyfriend jeans.

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This is something I’ve always struggled with, and maybe I need to take Jenna’s advice and simply not settle! I haven’t been able to find the perfect pair yet, but the J Crew Point Sur certainly look like a winner. Jenna suggests searching for a pair with “authenticity” and a “truly straight cut.”

3. Add a personal touch

Jenna does so by embroidering her initials on all of her button downs- love this idea!

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I’m definitely on the hunt for a timeless, white button down. I’ve been eyeing up the Thomas Mason for J Crew Tuxedo Shirt. If it’s “the one” I’ll definitely consider embroidered initials!

Another great option would be monogramming. My favorite monogrammed item is my Madewell Transport Tote.

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I have it monogrammed in gold with my initials MVW and receive many compliments on it!

4. Visit the men’s section

My favorite piece of advice from this section was to pair oversized, chunky sweaters with mini skirts. My fashionista friend, Filomena, recently sent me a pic of a French Connection outfit she purchased from Bloomingdales and it fit this advice to a T!

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5. Wear thick, oversized frames

Definitely a Jenna Lyons staple.

item13.rendition.slideshowVertical.tomboy-style-warby-parkerWarby Parker “Duval” Glasses

One of my favorite pairs would be the Hepcat Shades: Madewell.

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So, how do you rock the tomboy style?

View the article in its entirety: The Official Jenna Lyons Guide to Mastering Tomboy Style

Silk Shirt Showdown

As a teacher, I have a thang for alliteration ;)

So…I’ve been on a silk shirt kick lately. It started at the end of the summer when I decided I needed wanted more sophisticated and classy pieces in my wardrobe. The first addition I was seeking was a timeless, ivory silk shirt- one that could be in my wardrobe for years and years to come.  After some research, I decided to check out the new Classic Silk Blouse at J Crew.

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This shirt is J Crew’s new release of the Blythe shirt. My favorite version of the Blythe was the ivory with polka dots from a few seasons back. This is one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe.

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The Blythe had more of a fitted look, whereas the new Classic Silk Blouse has a longer fit.

Anyhow, when I got to J Crew, they didn’t have my size to try on. Disappointed, I naturally ventured over to Madewell. Upon realizing Madewell didn’t have an ivory silk shirt, I begrudgingly tried on the Silk Spotlight Shirt in the “wet boulder” color, which is essentially a blush pink. It was love at first sight.

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This shirt has everything going for it- it’s quite versatile and can be worn in many different ways. My vote would be untucked with skinny jeans and boots.

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Rockin the cowgirl look for my dad’s birthday!

Another option would be to pair with leggings due to the longer length. I also like how it looks tucked into jeans with a belt. However, you have to be careful because the slits on the side come up pretty high. There are mixed reviews on the site about this, but I kinda dig it- adds a touch of sexiness in my opinion. This can easily be avoided though by wearing a cami underneath. I also really like how it’s longer in the back. Silk is fast becoming my favorite fabric- it’s just so luxurious and I really enjoy wearing it.

Ever since this purchase, the original J Crew silk shirt that I had gone for was still in my mind. However, the ivory color no longer interested me…I wanted green.

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With J Crew’s 30% sale this weekend, I made the purchase.

This shirt has a slightly more boxy fit, rather than the flowy feel of the Madewell shirt. The sleeves are also a bit longer. Both shirts run big, so you may want to size down (I purchased a 00 at J Crew and an XXS at Madewell, which is smaller than the normal size I normally wear).

What I like about the Classic Silk Blouse is the single pocket and how the buttons are not exposed. It has the same longer “tail” and side slits as the Spotlight Shirt.

So…who wins the showdown? If you could only purchase one, my vote would go to the Silk Spotlight Shirt.

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Why? It’s just such a versatile piece with great quality material. The color is soft and subtle, and fits into any season seamlessly. However, the Classic Silk Shirt at J Crew is a very close second- clearly, as I  purchased both!

The Silk Spotlight Shirt is also 30% off this weekend at Madewell! Winna winna chicken dinna.

Will you be shopping the J Crew and Madewell Columbus Day sales?