Merry Christmas, Darlings!

Merry Christmas!! I hope you all had a wonderful day! I am so excited to celebrate our first Christmas together. Yes, this is Barry and my first Christmas together, but I am referring to our first Christmas together… Yes… YOU!

Last night, I attended two celebrations. I really lucked out with not having to work. I first drove to Frank’s nephews house. How cute are the boys?! Cal and Anthony were preparing a four-course meal of The 7 Fishes! Not to mention, Cal baked a bunch of favorites, like her famous Angel Food Cake, pignoli cookies, and cocoa pistachio sables!

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Unfortunately, I was not able to stay and celebrate dinner, as I was expected at my grandmother’s house. I was so so excited to see the family, but pathetically excited to eat some kielbasa! Every year, we had three main dishes in the Higgins house: kielbasa and sauerkraut, roast beef, and meatballs! I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a piece of kielbasa! Haha!

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I had a couple favorite moments from last night. The first was a mommom combo. I first handed grandma a bottle of Spumanti from Barry and me. She loves this stuff! This is the drink she got completely buzzed off of at my graduation party. She was so excited she started kicking her feet, yelling, “My drink! Oh my drink! Oh I love this stuff!” (Keep in mind that this is a 79 year old woman with both knee and hip replacements, kicking her feet in joy… PRICELESS). The second was when grandmom opened an ornament I made for her. She immediately pulled it out of the box and kissed the picture of my grandfather that was in the ornament.

Another, came at my Aunt Linda’s House where cousin Eddie proposed to his girlfriend, Cindy! My Aunt was telling Cindy about Eddie’s First Christmas ornament, and when Eddie went to show her it… He showed her an ornament of a bride and groom on a motorcycle and tied around the couple was a ring. “So what do you say, babe? Will you marry me?” She was speechless. “Uh, I kind of need an answer. so I know what to do here…” We all laughed, she held out her hand and said, “Yes.”

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WP_005128Aunt Linda was really excited about the gift she made me.. In all honesty, I normally would have had some serious anxiety with this gift, but I was so well-thought-out, I couldn’t help but love it! Its the Nurse’s Survival Guide, packed with goodies and a paper included that stated the following:

Nurse’s Survival Kit

Lifesavers– A reminder of the times your are a real lifesaver. Starburst– For that extra burst of energy. Mints– A reminder that your compassion is worth a mint to your patients. Kisses– because you deserve many. Tissues– To dry tears, yours or someone else’s. Bandaids– To help with all the “little stuff.” Gum– To help your through the sticky situations. Paper clip– To help hold things together. Tea bags– Sit back and relax after a hard day at work. Taffys– To help you lick the problems you face. Jolly Ranchers– To remind you to laugh when you feel like crying. Tootsie Rolls– To help complaints “roll” off you back. Rubber Bands– For when you need to stretch beyond you limits. Battery– To keep you going and going and going. Candle– For when you feel completely burned out. Snickers– Because laughter is the best medicine. Button– Because you may need to button your lip. Marbles– To replace the ones you will lose.

Everyone asked about Barry, but he had to work. He came over at 6am Christmas morning and we began the holiday early.

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After opening presents with mom, Frank, Barry and my brothers, I headed over to dads with the pup.WP_005051

WP_005046We had a great morning. Money was a bit tight this year so we decided not the get a tree. Instead, we took a ceramic tree out of storage. My grandmother used to make ceramics and this one is one of my favorites! She even put a circuit in the base for a light bulb! It was a great substitution! Yay, for talented mommoms!

Who needs the avengers when youve got the Bundos??

Who needs the avengers when you’ve got the Bundos??

I thought it was pretty humorous that I got dad and Barry Captain America and Iron Man t-shirts, respectively, and my parents got me a Supergirl shirt!

Following a nice morning of family and gift exchanges, dad and I went to my uncle’s house. Before we headed over a prepared a few desserts. One of my cousins was on a low carb diet, so I made some dessert cups using Quest Bars. I cut a Lemon Creme Pie into 8 pieces, and and Apple Pie bar and a Double Chocolate Chunk bar into 4s.

Quest Cups

  • Quest bar of your liking
  • mini muffin tin
  • filling of choice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the Quest bars into the desired about of pieces. Space on a plate and microwave for about 8 seconds. Using dry hands, roll each piece into a ball. Flip over a mini muffin tin and spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Flatten each ball into a disk and form over the coated muffin tin. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven. Once cooled, fill the Quest cups with whatever filling you desire.

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I filled the Lemon cups with the left over fig and walnut filling from my Sicilian Crescents. I chopped up half a small fuji apple and mixed it with a packet of Splenda and apple pie spice. I, then placed the apple mix in the microwave for 30 seconds and filled the Apple Pie Quest cup. Lastly, I placed the Double Chocolate Chip quarters in the bottom of the mini muffin tin and baked for 5 minutes, as well. Upon removing the bar, I found 4 perfectly round Double Chocolate Chunk cookies, that RJ loved! Dessert would not be dessert with some fat free Cool Whip to top it off!

Aunt Carol and I took over the kitchen, preparing ravioli, Lightened Gnocchi, salad, gravy, sausage, and meatballs.

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Great minds must think alike. Barry and I, both bought each other robes for Christmas. My parents got Barry a pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants. Barry’s parents got me a new pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants!

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Some of my favorite gifts, this year, included the ornaments I made my family, the Cutco knife Frank gave me, Dad’s laptop and Mom’s pendant, the onsies dad got me, my Ninja (thanks Barry), and the collage I made Barry’s sister.

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Homemade Birthday

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day! I didn’t want meat included into my birthday dinner, so I began to play around with gnocchi recipes that incorporated tofu, tempeh, or seitan. I stressed about my birthday dinner for about a week prior. I knew the ingredients I wanted to use, but couldn’t decide how to utilize them… Red sauce? White sauce? Pesto? Wine?  I finally came across this recipe. It appealed to my Sicilian genes and thought it sounded delicious. I figured I could make this into a hearty meal to play with everyone’s taste buds, but I definitely want to make it with the eggplant in the future!

After looking at my other Sicilian recipes, I finally realized where I get this salty sweet tooth from! They love combining savory and sweet and this recipe does just that with the capers and raisins.

Its also a great way to kick off Italian Heritage Month!

Sicilian-Inspired Rabe and Pasta

serves 6-8

  • 1/2 lb broccoli rabeWP_004088
  • 6-8 servings pasta/ gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp fat free ricotta
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 1 15 oz can no-salt-added sliced stewed tomatoes, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Brummel and Brown, or low cal, light buttery spread
  • 1 45 calorie box raisins, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped

Bring two pots filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, add broccoli rabe to one pot and pasta/gnocchi to the other. The broccoli rabe cooks for about 4 minutes. When the 4 minutes have passed, drain the broccoli rabe and set aside to cool. Cook the pasta according to standard directions.

In the meantime, drain the can of tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Combine the reserved liquid with water and wine. In a food processor, blend ricotta, basil, 2 tsp garlic, crushed red pepper, Splenda, and 1/3 cup drained tomatoes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sprayed with non stick cooking spray, over low heat, add the onion. Toss the onion until it begins to brown. Chop the remaining stewed tomatoes. Add the remaining garlic and light buttery spread, chopped tomatoes, and chopped raisins and capers. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add the reserved tomato/water liquid and ricotta mix. Recover and simmer.

WP_004091Meanwhile, chop the drained and cooled broccoli rabe, and add to the skillet. Recover the skillet and simmer over low heat.

Turn off the heat, remove the lid, stir the pan, and serve over plated pasta. Top with reduced fat grated parmesean, if desired.

I served this over the gnocchi I had made last week! I really enjoyed it!

Skinny Gnocchi

I’ve been brainstorming my birthday dinner for a while, now. I originally wanted to go out for a big family dinner, but decided I wanted to make my own food, save some money, and try a new recipe. After enough brain storming, this was the result:

Lightened Gnocchi

makes 16 servings

  • 2 lb cauliflower florets
  • 2 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp instant potato flakes, divided
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Chop cauliflower and put in a large microwave safe bowl. Add 1/3 cup water to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 9-10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in another large bowl, pour boiling water over 2 cups of potato flakes. Stir until well blended. By this time, the cauliflower should just about be done. Carefully, remove the plastic wrap, drain as much water from the cauli as possible, and transfer the cauli, in batches, into a food processor. Blend the cauliflower until smooth. Slowly add the small blended batches of cauliflower to the mashed potatoes, until there is one large mashed vegetable mixture.

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Make well in center of vegetables and sprinkle the all purpose flour over the vegetables, along with 1 cup whole wheat flour. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 6 Tbsp potato flakes in a small bowl and set aside. Place egg and salt in center of the well and using a fork, begin to fold the contents of the bowl in towards the well. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, and transfer to a surface sprinkled with 2 Tbsp of reserved flour/potato. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch. Use reserved flour/potato blend for your work surface flour, 1 Tbsp at a time.

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Divide the ball of dough into workable sizes. On a lightly floured surface (you can use the reserved potato/flour mix), roll one ball at a time into 1/2-inch diameter rolls and cut into 1-inch long pieces. Allow the bite-size piece to sit for 5 minutes or so, while making more rolls. Roll each small piece of dough gently down the back side of a fork to create the shape. (see video below). Set the formed gnocchi aside and let set for another 5 minutes or so. (Letting the air hit the dough, makes it more worker-friendly).

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Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to  an ice bath. Drain from ice bath and set aside.

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To freeze the gnocchi for later use, do not boil them. Lay the raw dumplings on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Lay the sheet in the freezer for about 3 hours, then transfer to a sealable freezer bag.

Nutrition: per 1 cup (about 3.5 oz, approx. 13 dumplings)

Calories: 103, Fat: 0.2g, Sat. Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 264.7mg, Carbs: 21.2 g, Fiber: 3.1g, Sugar: 2g, Protein: 4.4g

I am super excited to post Be Well Bundo’s first ever video tutorial!

Thanks to Frank for being my camera man and teaching me Nonna Battaglia’s trick! I know my Nonna Buonanotte would be so proud of me for this recipe! I wish she could be here to enjoy them with me!