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….

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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

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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!

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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…

Saturday

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

Variations:

  • 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!

 

T N T

T N T

Turkeys and Traditions

I love the Holidays! As soon as Thanksgiving hits, I am in full holiday swing!

To me “The Holiday Season” is so much more than the major blow out sales! Lets think about it… When you think of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, what do you think of? The first thing that comes to mind, besides the Christmas music, obviously, are the traditions that go along with each of those events.

Growing up, these three were filled with family! My mom is one of five, and, dad, one of four. My parents are the only ones in either if their sibling groups to have only one child, so needless to say, holidays can get crowded.

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A day for stretchy pants!

Our Thanksgiving tradition requires heading to Philly. Over the years, my cousins have gotten married and have kids of theirs own, starting their own traditions. My earliest memory of our Thanksgiving dinner head count is somewhere in the mid 20s. Can you imagine three folding tables end to end from the front door to the kitchen in a row home living room??? Over the years, our head count has dwindled to somewhere in the mid-teens.

 

Despite the change of numbers, the menu remains unchanged. Each year we can expect to have mashed potatoes, succotash, sweet peas, both a ham and a turkey, cole slaw, stuffing, and giblet gravy, sticks of butter scattered throughout the table, and loaves of rye and black breads, and a basket of snowflake rolls! (My family doesn’t cook for the waist line.) And we always look forward to the most dense cheesecake you will ever eat.

Its funny that there are people who can’t stand the ends of breads, but to our family, its gold! My aunt/godmother and I usually sit next to each other and its a fight to the death for the butts of not just the black bread, but the ham! A fork belonging to each of us, sword fighting for the crisp glazed end!

Some of the nostalgia behind our meals, is that we do it our way! I remember the first time I ordered succotash at a restaurant and was completely confused as to what was delivered to me. We use sweet cream-style corn, rather than whole kernal corn, and you will not be sorry if you give this a try! Not a damn thing needs to be added to this corn and lima bean mix. Sweet and savory, wet and filling, and so much more.

Grandmom makes the stuffing the Tuesday before thanksgiving, and boy she means business! She has made it this way for so long that she doesn’t even know measurements. (Just imagine how hard it was for me to try to figure out the recipe, as her units of measurements are her palm and ziplock bags!) 

After she combines the hodgepodge of stuffing ingredients, she divides it amount countless aluminium loaf pans, then bakes them off. She makes loaves and loaves of stuffing. Not just for dinner, but then she wraps up the ten extra loaves, untouched by turkey day, and each family member gets a loaf to take home, which we slice up and freeze to eat throughout the year.

And I don’t know how many times I have tried to make her giblet gravy. I remember the first year I learned what it actually was. “I’m eating turkey neck?!” I exclaimed at the dinner table.

We all grow up looking forward to our grandma’s “something.” Like my grandma’s cole slaw isn’t your typical creamy slaw and she uses a secret ingredient that she confided in me a few years ago. (Sorry folks, a family secret is a family secret.)

Oh man! And that stuffing! The next morning, we slice it up, brown both sides and top it with cheese and an egg, over easy. Tradition baby! 

Compliments of Mom: There are two factors that contribute to our juicy turkey. The first, is the container in which we cook it. I’m not referring to the roasting pan. I place my turkey in a turkey-sized oven bag. Sprinkle a little flour in the turkey bag, shake it around, then slide in your turkey and tie up the bag. Here’s where I might lose you. The second trick is to bake your turkey upside down. That’s right, breast down. Don’t worry about that little popper in the turkey breast. Bake it upside down. All the juices that fall to the bottom, are now falling into the white meat to soak and infuse. And that little bit of flour that is added to the turkey bag coats the turkey and helps brown up the skin. (After much thought, as much as crispy skin appeals to me on such an indulgent holiday, I side with the juicy white meat.)

Grandmom was pretty darn sick in the hospital a few months ago. She still isn’t quite feeling up to par, and I can’t blame her. Since we live in a different state, mommom is going to my aunt’s house, so I will be hosting T-Day at home in Wilmington for anyone complacent on this holiday.

On our menu:

  • Turkey (duh!)20151126_161521
  • Succotash (creamy!)
  • Green Bean Almondine
  • Stuffing (Unfortunately, not mommoms)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Bourbon-Swirled Spiced Casserole
  • Baked Bananas with a Spiced Cream

I can’t just leave you all without a little recipe.

Baked Bananas with Spiced Cream

  • bananas, medium
  • egg roll wrappers
  • cinnamom
  • fat free cool whip
  • pumpkin pie spice

Cut medium bananas in half. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon over an egg rolls wrapper and wrap up a half of a banana in each. Lay your wrapped bananas on a sprayed sheet of parchment paper, seam side down. Bake at 350 F for about 15 min, turning half way through.

Meanwhile, blend room temperature cool whip and pumpkin pie spice. I mix 1/4 tsp spice to each cup of cool whip. Serve each wrapped, warm, caramelized, almost melted banana with a dollop if spiced whip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with love!

 

 

 

Family Dinner

For my birthday, I wanted a family dinner full of laughs and enjoyment. I didnt get that but I did tonight! Barry’s mom asked if her and his dad could take up out to dinner to celebrate my graduation from nursing school. With my binge the other night, I almost didn’t want to go. Sammy, you are a human! You need to be able eat out with family like a normal person! I graciously acceptabed the invitation, and was even more excited to find out that Barry’s sister and husband were joining us, too, to celebrate her news of her first preganancy!

My morning began with a mild dispute between mom and me as she backed out of Zumba class. Again! I used that frustration in class and shook my booty. I thought this class would be a bit easier since it was half cardio and half toning. I was wrong! Wow! After class, my tush was sore! Sitting down was a task, but I felt great after class, covered in sweat!

I immediately downed a bottle of water to hold me over until I got home. Since I just got a new shipment of Herbalife in, I couldn’t wait to break into the Dutch Chocolate shake mix! I made a sort of PB&J-esque bowl:

  • WP_0041271 scoop chocolate protein
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp Chocolate PB2
  • 2 Tbsp SF blueberry syrup
  • xanthum, guar, and handful of spinach (optional)
  • water
  • ice

I topped the bowl with freeze-dried blueberries and some Kashi Go-Lean cereal. Awesome and filling!

Mom and I apologized for our harsh words from the morning and spent the afternoon together. After my shower, I headed to Barry’s to help put a desk together that my dad sold him! Its seriously nice! They are having a huge sale right now! Check them out and ask for Tom Bundo. Before (a hot mess)  and After (a big boy desk):

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My dad has ton of hook ups on computer chairs, which will be the next thing replaced! 25 bucks for a plush computer chair with lumbar support? Sign me up!

We then met his family at the  local Applebees. We ordered two trays of the Ultimate Trios for apps as we waited for our meals. I ordered the Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp and substituted a side of broccoli for the rice. Everything was yummy, as always, and since Barry’s parents don’t used the lettuce, tomato, and onions on their burgers, I snatched them up and made shrimp lettuce wraps. I asked the waitress to amp up the heat on the seasoning. I don’t know why they market it as spicy…

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I spent the next few hours with Barry before heading home. My eating was fantastic and I sat in bed and enjoyed the utter guiltless-ness of Arctic Zero!