Welcome to my food blog! I am your average home cook and I want to share my love of food with the world. I'll divulge my recipes as often as possible. Feel free to comment or to email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com! Don' forget to come by often for new posts... I love having you visit me!

December 30, 2013

Special Post - Holiday Season 2013

What is one of the best things about the holidays?  Why, the food of course!  Whether it's a big sit-down dinner, or a cocktail party, or a family-style buffet, food brings family and friends together.  A great dish I came across this year is Lil Smokie wrapped in bacon and baked with a butter/brown sugar sauce.  You can't even imagine how good these things are!  They are relatively easy to make, the only somewhat time-consuming part is wrapping each individual smokie in bacon.  People love them, guests at Christmas dinner devoured them literally in 10 minutes.  Perfect as an appetizer, great to bring to a gathering, or just to eat as a snack, I think you should make these soon!

Bacon Wrapped Lil Smokies w/Brown Sugar Glaze

  • 2 12oz packages little sausages (I use Hillshire Farms, all beef Lil Smokies)
  • 1 lb bacon, cut into thirds
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 375.  Wrap each sausage in a piece of bacon.  Place them on a rack on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile melt butter over medium-low heat and stir in one cup brown sugar.  Cook til sugar is dissolved.  Remove from oven, place in baking dish.  Top with brown sugar butter.  Sprinkle remaining cup of brown sugar over smokies.  Bake and additional 10 minutes.  Turn heat to 425 and bake 10 more minutes.


December 27, 2013

Restaurant Review 17 - Olive Garden

Oh the chain restaurants!  Some people love 'em and some people hate 'em.  For me, it depends on the restaurant.  But I will tell you, I LOVE Olive Garden!  I don't care if it's "fake" Italian food, it tastes pretty good.  Some of my favorite items include fettuccine alfredo, the portabello ravioli, the eggplant parmigiana, and of course, their salad.  *As a side note, they now sell their salad dressing in grocery stores.  I found it recently at Walmart for around $3.  A good dressing, not exactly like the restaurant version, but pretty close.*
On a recent visit to the Olive Garden, I tried one of their new dishes off their Tastes and Toasts of Italy menu, the Crispy Risotto Bites. Delish! For $5 we got 6 rice balls.  Risotto and cheese are rolled in bread crumbs, fried til crisp, and served on a bed of marinara (with more cheese on top if you choose - and we did!).  They had good flavor, were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside as promised.  Also off that menu I chose a cocktail, the Moscato Aperol Cocktail - light and refreshing, this is a must try.  
Normally I get the fettuccine or the ravioli, but for lunch today I got the eggplant parmigiana.  It was a great size portion for lunch, but I was a little surprised the price was comparable to their dinner prices.  Disappointing.  My companion got their new Italiano Burger.  I forgot to take a picture but let me tell you, I had a bite and it was one of the best burgers I've had in a long time.  Covered in prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, and marinated tomatoes, and a creamy parmesan garlic aioli...  Mmmm mmmm mmm.  Get there for lunch, you WANT to have this burger.  
They have a multitude of dessert options, my favorite being the Black Tie Mousse Cake.  But on this visit I had one of their Dolcinis, little tastes of dessert.  I went with the chocolate mousse dolcini.  It was good, the perfect size for a small sweet bite.  It satisfied my dessert craving without pushing me over the edge.  I am a little upset about how high some of their dessert prices have become, I remember when the mousse cake was only $4 and now it's over $7... Just seems a little excessive.
Olive Garden is still one of my favorite chains.  I eat their a few times a year, usually when they are running some kind of special, like the Buy One, Take One deal.  For $12.99 you got a full size meal there (mine was the asiago fettuccine alfredo - yum) complete with salad or soup and bread sticks, and then an entree to take home (I chose the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno - a new favorite!).  That promotion is over, but it was such a great deal, and I hope they bring it back soon.
To learn more about Olive Garden, and to check out their menu and current specials visit Olive Garden

Bread Sticks

Berry Sangira

Zuppa Toscana

December 20, 2013

Asian Ground Beef - Home Cooked Recipe 43

The recipe I am posting about today was once again inspired by a recipe I found on Pinterest (seriously, if you are not on Pinterest, what are you waiting for???).  I was looking for something to with ground beef as I am tired of the usual burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, meat sauce, etc.  And if you read this blog regularly you know I am a sucker for Asian flavors!  So putting both these things were very convenient, and made for a quick and tasty week night meal.

Asian Ground Beef


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (I always use Kikoman's lite soy)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes - next time I might bump it up to a tablespoon, I like the spice!
  • 2 inch piece ginger, grated (it's not exactly the same, but you could also use a teaspoon of ground ginger)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated - next time I will use more, I also love garlic!
  • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced (I don't use a lot of the green, mostly I use the white part)

Brown ground beef on medium high in sesame oil.  Drain off fat.  Add in garlic and ginger.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add in scallions, mix well.  In a bowl, combine soy, sugar, and pepper flakes.  Pour over beef and stir well.  Cook on medium-low for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve over white rice.  Enjoy!!!

November 14, 2013

Special Post - Halloween 2013

Party Spread
Halloween is a great time of year.  It brings out a lot of creativity in people, including in the food department.  This year I attended a party at a close friend's house and we had a blast.  Everyone had cool and original costumes.  But the food was just as interesting!  The hostess made individual pizzas that had cheese in the shape of ghosts with olive bits for eyes and mouths.  She also made breadsticks into the shape of bones.  For dessert, she made "toe" cookies.  Her daughter made deviled eggs with olive "spiders" on top.  So creative!!!  I wish I had done some more research to make my food more festive.  My dishes included an antipasto platter and a dill dip in a bread bowl, delicious, but I know next year I will make my food a little more Halloween related!  Enjoy the pictures below of some of the party food!
"Ghost Pizzas" by Gail
My antipasto platter which included olives I marinated myself

Breadstick "Bones" by Gail
My dill dip in a bread bowl, a recipe my mom has made for years!

November 5, 2013

Simply Sides 8 - Dolmas

What is a dolma you might be asking yourself?  Why it is a tasty little morsel!  More specifically, a dolma is a stuffed fruit or vegetable, i.e. stuffed cabbage leaves, zucchini, tomato, or in this case, grape leaves.  A middle Eastern dish, stuffed grape leaves are DELICIOUS, although they may sound weird to those who aren't so familiar with this culinary delight.  You can commonly find dolmades on Greek menus, and as my parents were fond of Greek food while I was growing up, I have had quite a few of these in my lifetime.  
Grape leaves are stuffed with a ground beef (or lamb) and rice mixture, with a brightness from lemons and a kick from various spices.  
I have never made dolmades before, and as I am expanding my culinary prowess this year, I thought I would give it a go.  To kick it up a notch, I developed a crock pot recipe for them, so once you've assembled them, you can just set it and forget them for a few hours!
These are great for parties, make a great appetizer, and are a great (fairly healthy snack).  I hope you give them a try!

  • 1 8oz jar grape leaves (found in the olive/pickle section of your grocery store)
  • 1 lb ground beef (or lamb), browned with a diced onion
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 - 2 cups of chicken broth (or beef broth or veggie broth)
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 5 fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 tbs dried dill
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper (to taste, about 1 tsp of each)
  • 1 onion, sliced

Place sliced onion in the bottom of your crock pot.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, rice, beaten egg, parsley, mint, dill, red pepper, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.  Add in the juice of 1 lemon, mix well.  Drain and rinse grape leaves.  Take 1 grape leaf, place some of the beef/rice mixture in the middle.  Fold in the short sides, fold over one of the long sides and roll.  Place seam side down on top of onion in crock pot.  Repeat with remaining grape leaves until ground beef mixture and/or grape leaves are gone.  
Mix broth and lemon juice together.  Pour over stuffed grape leaves in slow cooker.  Turn slow cooker to low and cook 6-8 hours or place slow cooker on high and cook 2-3 hours.

October 30, 2013

Crock*Pot Asian Chicken - Home Cooked Recipe 42

I am in love with my new Crock*Pot!!!  I have made so many dinners in it already.  It is a 7 quart Crock*Pot slow cooker, with low, high, and warm settings.  One of our new favorite household recipes is one for Asian Chicken, which is made completely in the slow cooker.  Very easy, very delicious, and you'll get some of the moistest, most tender chicken you'll ever have. I originally found the recipe on Pinterest, but adapted it for our own household preferences. See the recipe below!
Crock*Pot Asian Chicken

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves galic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbs red pepper flakes (less if you are afraid of spice, more if you like it spicy!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds *optional
  • 1 green onion bundle, thinly sliced *optional
  • -if you like a thicker sauce, at the end of cooking dissolve 4 tbs cornstarch in 6 tbs water and add to liquid in slow cooker and cook on high 30 minutes before mixing the chicken back in

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides, place in slow cooker.  In a bowl, mix together broth, honey, soy, vinegar, ketchup, oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper.  Blend well and pour over chicken breasts.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Remove chicken breasts, shred chicken with two forks, return to sauce in slow cooker and mix well.  Serve over rice, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

October 24, 2013

Restaurant Review 16 - Chuy's

I love good Mexican and Tex-Mex food.  I'm always in search of new restaurants that serve good food, and recently I was down in Kissimmee and stumbled upon Chuy's, a Tex-Mex restaurant that was founded in Austin, TX.  There are several restaurants nationwide, but only two in FL, one in Gainesville and one locally in Kissimmee.  Chuy's is a fun restaurant with interesting decor.  It is not fine dining, but their food is delicious and very reasonably priced.  Although it is too far of a drive to eat at more often, and is located in a tourist-centric part of town, it is a good find, and a place I will definitely go back to if I'm in that part of town again.  I'm actually hoping they open one closer to the metro Orlando area so I can go more frequently.
You can find Chuy's on Facebook, and they also offer take-out.  
I went to Chuy's for dinner on a Sunday night with a group of friends as it was my birthday dinner.  My date and I ordered the Chile Con Queso as an appetizer and it was cheesy goodness to go with the complimentary chips and salsa the restaurant offers.  Speaking of the salsa, I was impressed, it was fresh and tasty with a bit of kick to keep things interesting.
For my entree my date and I both ordered The Elvis Presley Memorial combo, which for just under $11 came with 3 enchiladas (cheese, beef, and chicken - although I ordered mine with beef instead of the chicken) and a beef taco, as well as a couple of large tostada chips dipped in the queso.  Plenty of food for a very good price.  We were more than stuffed when we left, but we both agreed our meals were delicious and I would definitely order it again.  What I liked was each enchilada came with a different sauce to try, all the ingredients seemed fresh and cooked well.  I also ordered a side of their Creamy Jalapeno dip, and it was DIVINE.  I put it on everything.  Get it if you go, you won't be disappointed.

Other guests at my table ordered fajitas, which they declared to have tender well-cooked meat (steak and chicken both) and lots of flavor.  Another guest ordered the Chicken Flautas, and one just the Crispy Tacos.  The only complaint about the flautas was that they needed more sauce.  I received a complimentary dessert for my birthday, a fried pastry served with a yummy honey sauce.  
The service was fast and friendly.  We had a large party, but the restaurant did a good job of accommodating us and the service was quick and efficient.
Oh and try their drink specials!  I had a house wine and it was priced well and tasty.  They offer margaritas, beers, and have a full bar.
If you're in the Kissimmee area and you're looking for a fun, well-priced, delicious Tex-Mex meal, visit Chuy's!  And check out their website for Facebook information, menu information, and more of their locations so you can visit one even if you're not from Florida!

October 17, 2013

Simply Sides 7 - Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a quintessential ingredient for picnics and BBQ's and people have many different recipes.  As crazy as it might sound, my favorite coleslaw has always been from KFC.  No matter how many recipes I've investigated, I have not been able to replicate theirs.  But NOW I have found a recipe that comes very close and my family absolutely loves.  Today I am going to share it with you, my dear readers!  
In the future I will be posting another coleslaw recipe, one for a spicy chipotle slaw, so keep a look out for that soon!


  • 1 pkg of coleslaw veggie mix that includes green and red cabbage, and carrots *I like to chop into a small dice with a chopper, even though it comes already shredded, but do it how you like best
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients except first one together.  Blend well.  Fold in coleslaw veggies.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.  

October 10, 2013

Chili Cheese Pie - Home Cooked Recipe 41

I have already given you my delicious Chili recipe, and I made it again this week.  I had it for dinner, then leftovers another night, but still had some left over.  While wondering what I could do with the rest of the chili (nachos, etc) I saw someone on TV talking about pies and quiches.  Then an idea struck!  What if I turned my leftover chili into a chili cheese pie??? I had one 9 inch round of refrigerated pie dough and decided to go for it.  Here is the recipe for my idea of what to do when you have chili leftovers!

Chili Cheese Pie

2-3 cups of Chili (get my recipe here), use your favorite, cooled
8 oz shredded quesadilla cheese (or monterey jack or pepper jack or cheddar jack)
4 oz finely shredded cheddar
1 9 inch round refrigerated pie dough (or use your favorite recipe)

***optional garnishes: green onions, sour cream

Preheat oven to 375.
Unroll pie dough and place in pie pan.  Cover the bottom of the pie crust with half of the quesadilla cheese.  Spoon chili over the top and spread in an even layer.  Top with other half of quesadilla cheese and cheddar cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and/or green onions if desired.

September 30, 2013

Special Post #6 - Pimento Cheese

I spent 1/2 my childhood in NY and the other half in FL.  In neither of these locales have I found a vast amount of pimento cheese.  But from what I hear, it's extremely popular in the South.  Pimento cheese is something I haven't eaten before, but I kept seeing it on TV and online when searching for recipes.  
After researching a few different recipes, I settled on one that contains a combination of mayo and cream cheese.  Some people make with one or the other, and after seeing a couple of recipes I decided to make it with both.
It was delicious!  Some people eat it just as a dip, but I decided to use it for grilled cheese sandwiches and boy was it ooey gooey cheesy deliciousness!  I think pimento cheese is better warm than cold, but eat it which ever way you like best.
Here is my recipe for it:

Pimento Cheese
8oz sharp cheddar, grated
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Hellmann's mayo
1 4oz jar of diced pimentos, drained well (***make sure you drain it or the pimento cheese gets too watery)

2 tsp hot sauce (I use Louisiana's Pure Crystal, always my 1st choice for hot sauce! Use your favorite.)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Let sit in fridge for at least and hour so flavors can meld.  Use a hand mixer or food processor to combine ingredients for a smoother product.


September 24, 2013

Simply Sides 6 - Zucchini Casserole

Summer is a great time for squash.  Zucchini and yellow squash are abundant in gardens and in the supermarket.  I grew up eating squash and think it's a great vegetable.  I'm always looking for new side dishes, and with squash so prevalent I started perusing recipes to find something new to do with squash.  I came across a recipe for a cheesy squash casserole and had to try it.  I hope you like it as much as I did!

Cheesy Zucchini Casserole
2 zucchini, sliced in to discs (you can also do this with yellow squash, or one yellow squash, & one zucchini)
8 oz shredded cheddar
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/3 and 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute onions and garlic in oil for 6-8 minutes until tender and translucent.
Add zucchini and saute for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper. Let mixture cool.
Add 1/4 parmesan, 1/3 cup bread crumb, and cheddar cheese to zucchini mixture.  Combine well and place in baking dish.
Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn oven to broiler and broil for 3-4 minutes, keeping a close eye on the casserole so bread crumbs don't burn.


September 11, 2013

Baked Croissant French Toast - Home Cooked Recipe 40

This week's recipe is for a breakfast dish.  Baked french toast with a twist, the twist being we're using croissants instead of regular bread. To make this dish even more interesting, we're making a maple cream cheese filling.  This dish is not a healthy recipe, but it is great for an indulgent breakfast or brunch!

Baked Croissant French Toast

6 croissants (or 12 mini croissants), halved
4oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups half and half
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Layer half the the halved croissants on the bottom of the baking dish.  Next, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and maple syrup with a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Dollop the cream cheese over the croissant halves in the pan.  Place the other half of the croissants on top.  Then beat together the eggs, half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Pour on top of croissants.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 mins.
Let cool for 10 mins and then serve.