When You Love a Foodie

If I do anything right, its Christmas. Even the pets get goodies!

Get it? Doggie Bags!

As a foodie, I am one of the easiest and hardest to shop for. Cutlery, funky new restaurant, appliances… Does she already have that? Does she need one of those? That’s HOW MUCH?!?!

Easy, but possible expensive…

But I must have been good this year, because Santa brought me more than I had wished!

Christmas Eve

So about how I woke at 1pm….


He’s 21!

If you’ve had my baking, you’d know that brownies have never been my forte.  “Just use a box mix.” I did… “Oh.” Thats usually how that goes. But I did a little investigating and whipped up some banging brownies! And made an assortment for every taste preference: peppermint, salted caramel pretzel, turtle (caramel, coconut, and pecans), peanut butter, cheesecake, and M&M (for my little cuz, who just turned 21… hes getting so big!)

I even made a chocolate cream cheese icing… thats right, Chocolate. Cream Cheese.

So yeah, a cup of coffee, lots of brownies, and oh snap its 4pm! I hurried up, threw everything in the fridge, jumped in the shower, loaded my car, and in typical Christmas Eve fashion, I headed to Philly to see the family!

Grandmom was pretty darn sick earlier this and it took a decent toll on her


Who said you could grow up?

energy, so rather than a family gathering at her house, Aunt Chrissy hosted. Some family happened to be standing outside when I pulled up and parked. Its dark out, but I see a man walking towards me… sneakers, basketball shorts, polo, a watch, swag…

OMG! Its my little cousin! When did this happen!?! What did high school do to you?! Where’s my little David?!? 

I just couldn’t stop. Its not like I don’t see him. I almost was tearing up at how grown him and his sister had gotten.

20151224_194630Before greeting the rest of the family, I b-lined right to my Grandmom, who despite not being up to host, did not stop her from being a drink in the hole. I love when she drinks! Its hysterical!

At least we stuck with the tradition of keilbasa and sauerkraut, roasted beef, and meatballs! And Aunt Cathy, the other foodie in the family, made these bacon wrapped stuffing bites that I literally could have eaten for the rest of my life!! Needless to say, recipe obtained. 20151224_201518

After catching up, I headed to the next Philly stop, Aunt Linda’s house, where I caught up with more family, and got to see this little elf:

This is Damian, my new little cousin, celebrating his first Christmas!

Although my Christmas Eve in Philly was much shorter than usual, and as much as my family may but heads, I love seeing them!

Next stop, Oxford. After another hour of driving, I arrived and my destination for the night, where we fell asleep watching movies on the couch. Ahh relaxing!

Christmas Day

20151225_135212After exchanging a few small gifts with my friend, I headed home to mom’s house.

I drove home, smiling ear to ear, anticipating a wonderful day ahead. Getting home was no treat as mom was NOT, I repeat, NOT in a good mood. So within 15 minutes of walking in the door, playing Santa and bringing out the gifts I had gotten her, I was in my bedroom crying on the phone to my dad. Yup, it went that well!

20151225_134107I literally wanted to crash for the rest of the day. No family dinner. No presents. Just sleep. Luckily dad talked me out of it, but not before I let that twisted disease talk me into a baby purge.

While attempting to recover and pull my head out of my ass, I carried any presents labeled for me into my room, sat down on the floor and celebrated Christmas by myself. I was aware of the convection oven my parents had gotten me, mostly because I ordered it, but when there was another large box next to it, never did I imagine it would be a Guy Fieri pots and pans set! In red! To match my microwave!

I run up to my moms room, mildly fearful of her disposition, and jumped on her to give her hugs and thanks for such a surprise!

I resumed gift opening, alone, to reveal a new coffee maker (the angry keurig is on its last legs) from my godmother. I sprang to my kitchen where the angry keurig lives, swiped it off the table, cleaned up the surrounding area and set up both the Hamilton Beach and the convection oven. I, then, found myself singing “Isn’t She Lovely” to my new appliances… I know, I’m not right in the head…

With mom still in her room, I quickly loaded my car like Santa loads his sleigh and zoomed over to pops house, around noon. Dad and I split our 20151225_130353pot of coffee, as usual, and began the gifting!

My parents have always kept the tradition of funny gift tags, and some years they really crack me up. Like the label on the whisk dad got me:

The best gift of all is the gift of song. As I’ve written countless times, my dad is the one who taught me to appreciate music. When I was little, he would sing John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” to me as a lullaby, but making the appropriate changes of pronouns. I’ve always told my dad that when I got married, I wanted the Father-daughter dance to be the version he would sing to me. So he pulls out his phone and begins to play a recording of him singing “Beautiful Girl.” My day had been made. Oh, and this necklace set!


After laughs, coffee, and a serenade, it was once again time to head out. We swung by my moms house where all the food I had prepared was, ans dad helped me load up. I assembled a tray of assorted brownies, and grabbed the crockpot filled with turkey meatballs and turkey sausage, and get this, sauce I made from my friend’s vegetable garden!

We arrived at my godfather’s house, where the men drank and the women cooked. Typical Italians. Mangia!

Dad was watching “Night at the Museum 3,” the night before and he 20151225_132543.jpgalmost pees himself because of this one line between Lancelot and Hugh Jackman. “Huge Ackman?! That doesn’t even sound like a real name!” (or something like that). So not only did Huge Ackman give me a gift, the gift of laughter carried over into dinner. The joke literally ran all through dinner, through dessert, through presents, and pictures, all the way until we left. My cousin RJ says to his brother, Kyle, “Come on, Huge Jackass.” Oh my goodness! I can’t even explain the reaction of a room full of Italians 3 bottles of wine deep…


Its brunch time! So how in the world do I have a hang over from two glasses of wine?! Have no fear, the new coffee pot is here!

20151226_115531 (2)Excedrin, check!

Coffee, check!

New shirt, check!

Feeling cute, check!

I met up with dad, right before he had to head to work, at Penny’s house. Abundanza!!! Seafood, salad, cookies, and a million laughs!

In such a great mood, I ran a bunch of errands before attending 5 o’clock mass, and catching up with old friends.

Mass was followed by meeting up with dad at the D.A.P. and saying “Happy Holidays” to the fellas; then headed to a friend’s bar just in time for Drag Queen Bingo!

Even if Christmas day had a rough start, the holiday wrapper up quite nicely. Sunday, I utilized my new drill bit set to help me DIY a new counter top to display the new appliances. So its been a pretty productive weekend!

Fluff Brownies

serves 32 each tray/ 64 total

  • 1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1 box Dark Fudge brownie mix
  • 2 15oz cans pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine all the ingredients well and transfer to two 9 by 13 baking dishes, sprayed well with non stick cooking spray. Bake for 40min.

Nutrition (1/64 of recipe):

Calories:70, Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 76mg, Carbs: 12g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 1g


  • Cheesecake: 8oz fat free cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp granulated Splenda, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar (Swirl into batter)
  • Peppermint: 1 tsp peppermint extract into the batter, top with chocolate cream cheese icing and crushed sugar free peppermint
  • Salted Caramel Pretzel: top with Marzetti’s fat free caramel dip and crushed salted pretzels
  • Turtle: top with Marzetti’s fat free caramel dip, chopped pecans, and unsweetened coconut flakes

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8oz fat free cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated Splenda
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Blend until smooth.

Happy Holidays from the Bundos!



Spiked for Her Pleasure

On Thanksgiving, I mentioned a sweet and spiked casserole. I’ve always been a fan of Boston Market’s Sweet Potato Casserole, and have fond memories and sharing them with my Nonna before her passing. They were her favorite item on the menu. I recall her telling me how horrible the food was during a hospital stay, and dad and I sneaking a small bowl up to her room so she could finally enjoy food. Boy, was she pleased.

With that being said, I’m neither a huge of marshmallows on my casserole, nor the calorie count associated with the decadent side dish. Needless to say, when Hungry Girl debuted a butternut squash version, I jumped to try it. I omitted the marshmallows and found that the recipe was sweet enough as it was. After a few years of loving her recipe, and making it for countless occasions, I decided to make it my own.

Sweet Bourbon-Swirled Spiced Casserole

Serves 8

Adapted from Hungry Girl

The Base

  • 8 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2/3 cup flax milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar-free pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated Splenda20151126_161526
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

The Swirl

  • 1 oz (2 Tbsp) whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp blue bonnet light
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Splenda brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 X 10 baking pan with nonstick spray.

Microwave the peeled and cubed squash with 1/2 inch of water, covered with plastic wrap, for about 8 minutes. Drain well.

I use my ninja to pulse, but use whatever you have to mash the squash just enough to keep it pulpy, not fully pureed. Add all the remaining base ingredients, either by hand in in the blender. Mix thoroughly, but do not over mash. Transfer to the baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the swirl ingredients, except the pecans, and microwave about 8 sec, just enough to melt the butter. Once the 40 minutes is up, remove from the oven. Use a spoon to drizzle the swirl ingredients over top the partially set casserole. Use a knife to swirl the drizzled boozed into the casserole. Evenly distribute the chopped pecans over top.

Return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes, ensuring the center of the casserole has set, using the toothpick test.

Nutrition (1/8 of recipe):

Calories:118, Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 242mg, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 3.5g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 4.6g


It’s not an intoxicating side dish, but Mr. Daniels let me knew he was at the party!

Don’t Know Until You Try

Anise… licorice  … none of that ever sounded appetizing to me, probably because the taste of black licorice thoroughly sceeved me out. Then, I started hearing about the vegetable called fennel. Being the Dego that I am, I payed attention since it was being used in so many Italian dishes. But then, I started hearing the “licorice ” to describe it. Needless to say, I’ve avoided  this vegetable for, let’s say 24 years.Molly Napolitano » Super Delicious Leek & Fennel Shrimp

Alright, Mario Batali, after countless episodes of The Chew, you have persuaded me to give it a shot.

I found a chicken and apple soup recipe that called toasted fennel seeds. After a little research I found the conversation from seeds to vegetable, and I’m glad I did because I believe it definitely bulks up the soup. This was also my first time pulling apples into a soup, which I was nervous would make it too sweet. I believe that by playing with the combination of spices off sets the sweetness that the apples contribute. The last minute add-in was a small can of sliced carrots, for some color and a little more natural sweetness. This first batch went so quickly, I used raw carrots the next round (see note in recipe).

If you are anything like me, and are completely clueless about fennel prep, I found this great tutorial here. I had no idea there was a hard fibrous center to core out.

Chicken Apple Soup

Inspired by Wholefoods

Makes 8- 1 cup servings20151210_175427 (2)

  • 4 cups reduced fat, lower sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into coins, OR a small can of sliced*
  • 1/2 lb (8oz) turnip
  • 2 medium gala apples
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground sage

Preheat the oven to 425 F while you prep. Place chicken breast in a soup pot along with chicken broth, water, cumin, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover with a lid and keep over low heat.

*If using raw carrots, place in the pot, now, as well.

Peel the turnips, cut in half and each half into thirds. This will help you differentiate between the difference veggies. Next, peel and core the apples, cut into quarters,  and the quarters into more bite sized pieces. Peel the onion, trim the ends, cut into quarters, and the quarters into thirds. You don’t need to separate the rings of the onions prior to roasting. Lastly, following the instructions in the link above, cut about an inch above the bulb, then cut off the base. Cut down its center, and remove the tough outer layer, as well as the triangle-shaped core in each half of the bulb. Slice what remains to a size of your liking.


Line a 9 by 13 Pyrex with parchment and transfer your prepped fruit and veggies. Sprinkle the garlic powder and sage over the fruit and veg and give them a good toss with your hands. Pour about 3/4 cup of water to the dish, cover with foil and roast in the oven about 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil from the Pyrex and carefully pick out the turnips (this is where the different sized turnip will help you), while giving the remaining fruit and vegetables a toss. Once the turnip has been removed,  return the Pyrex to the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.


Transfer the roasted turnips into a food processor and begin to puree. Feel free the add a bit of the broth to help get things moving. Transfer puree to pot of broth and and chicken.

When your fruit and veg have finished the last bit of the roast, transfer everything from the pryex into your soup pot, scraping any seasoning and 20151209_191159whatnot off the parchment.

*If using canned, sliced carrots, add those now.


Remove the chicken breast to a separate bowl or plate, and use the two-fork technique to shred the chicken. Transfer the shredded chicken back into the pot, cover, and allow to simmer for another 40 minutes, or longer if you’d like. Salt and pepper to taste.

If you reserved any of the fronds of the fennel, top your soup with it before serving; parsley does wonders, as well. And don’t forget those oyster crackers (yeah, they’re kind of my thing, now).


The original recipe called for a crockpot, but a low simmer, covered pot did me just fine. And I think I’d have to say that this soup tastes even better the next day, as all the flavors really enhance and marry!

Nutrition (1/8 of recipe):

Calories:119, Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 807mg, Carbs: 14g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 13g

The end result? Fennel is officially a staple on my grocery list. And I threw out that 1-cup per serving jib-jab. A double serving in each bowl, please! Oh, and the aroma! The smell in the air was enough to cue your salivary glands! As soon as I entered the kitchen its fragrance wrapped around me with a come hither sensation!

Whats your food freaker? I’m still not touching sardines! Leave your comment below!

Manly (and Slimming)

Hey all you Manly Men out there! Take a bite of this! 

20151203_204614_001-1[1]London broil is a rather inexpensive piece of beef, can easily be frozen and thawed, and doesn’t get tough in the soup-making process. It was also convenient since I happened to find a ton of it in the freezer… Cubing the steak is super easy when cutting a partially thawed piece.

Vegetable Beef and Barley Soup

makes 16 servings

    • 1 1/2 lb london broil, trimmed of fat
    • 6-8 Tbsp brown gravy mix, low sodium
    • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp paprika
    • 1 Tbsp thyme, dried
    • 2 tsp oregano, dried
    • 1 tsp parsley, dried
    • 1 Tbsp minced/chopped dried onion
    • 1 tsp ground rosemary
    • 3/4 to 1 tsp black pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 6- 7 cups water
    • 4 cups chicken broth, fat free, low sodium
    • 2 cups beef broth, fat free, low sodium
    • 3/4 cup barley
    • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
    • 2 1/2 cups celery, chopped, including leafy ends
    • 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
    • 2 cups kale greens, rough chop
    • 2 (10oz) mushrooms, white button, chopped
    • 1 cup green beans, cut (frozen will work)
    • fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish (optional)
    • oyster crackers (optional)

Cube the london broil into equal bite-sized pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onions through rosemary. With a large spoon, toss everything in the pot to coat the meat and onions.

Place the pot over low heat, add water and broth and cover. Allow to simmer for 40 minutes, or so. Add barley, cover, and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat back to low, add vegetables, cover and allow soup to simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

*I’m curious if using Italian seasoning could substitute many of the green herbs… let us know in the comments if you try!


Keep covered, remove from heat, and allow soup to cool. Refrigerate, freeze, or my favorite recommendation… Mangia! Top and garnish to your liking.

Nutrition based off 6 Tbsp gravy mix

119 calories!

Ha! I’ll take TWO!

Turkey Day Salad

20151201_193803[1]Last year, I watched leftover sweet potato casserole not only be transformed into sweet and tart pancakes, but also be devoured in record timing! In the spirit of repurposing leftovers, and Thanksgiving having just pasted, I wanted to make Turkey salad. Okay, dad REALLY wanted me to make turkey salad.While he envisioned classic turkey mayo celery, onion, I wanted something new.


Turkey Day Leftover Pesto Salad

inspired by A Communal Table

makes 4-6 servings

  • 1 cup kale greens
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 stalk large (11″-12″ long), Celery, raw
  • 0.75 oz fresh basil (about one store bought package from the produce department)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat grated parm-style topping
  • 1 Tbsp blue bonnet light, melted
  • 2 tbsp Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Light Mayo
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek nonfat Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Reduced Sugar Craisins, divided
  • 14 oz chopped cooked leftover Turkey, approximately 4 loosely packed cups
  • 2 tbsp Sweet frozen corn, defrosted, or leftovers from the BIG dinner

20151201_185916-1[1]In a food processor, blend kale through grated parm, while drizzling in the melted butter spread. One all ingredients have been broken and combined, add cranberry sauce through yogurt, and only 1 Tbsp of craisins. Pulse to combine.

Stir the kale pesto into chopped turkey, as well as the remaining tablespoon of craisins and the corn.

Nutrition (1/4 of recipe):

Calories:217, Fat: 10g, Sat. Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 224mg, Carbs: 14g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 5g, Protein: 22g

This is actually the first pesto I’ve ever made, and I am pretty darn proud! The kale was a last minute concept when I went to the market for basil and saw a display of huge bags of kale on manager’s special.

This has just the right amounts of sweet, tart, and  savory. I’m sure you could add more cranberry sauce to make it sweeter. I like how all of it blended to nicely, and hid the tang of the Greek yogurt, so much so that the mother of anti-yogurt campaign, my mom (and no, that is not a real campaign) couldn’t tell it was present. I think even adding more corn would had more of a juicy pop to the salad, as well.

The first taste of this, other than the spoon, was placing 1/4 of the recipe in a warm tortilla and toasting its sides in a pan. Dad and I cheers-ed, as we split this warmed wrap. We devoured our halves, which was quickly followed by a panini style sandwich.

Side note: Back in the day, when my parents had just been married, they got a sandwich maker, which is like a waffle iron, but for sandwiches. I claimed this in their divorce.

I spread amount 3/4 tsp of light buttery spread to the inside sides of light multigrain bread, spread the turkey salad, and sealed it in the sandwich maker until bread was golden brown. (If you don’t have a sandwich maker, just make it like a grilled cheese.)


Eat with a fork, in between bread, in a wrap. Eat it cold, warm, or hot.

          Moral of the story… Just eat it.

                              Warning of the story? You might not be able to stop.