One word – Funfetti

Here’s what I want you to do.

You’re in a city right?

Surrounded by lots of busy men in suits with serious faces rushing around from place to place while scrolling anxiously through their emails on their smart phones.

Find the most harried, most stressed, farthest from a smile one.

Now walk up to him and say one word.


I dare that man not to crack a smile.


The name itself is just happy. It’s fun. It’s rainbows and sunshine.

I mean, it’s rainbow sprinkles in a cake. And the Pilsbury Doughboy is on the box. And when you see him, you just have to think woo hoo!

Funfetti really is just vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles inside. But for those of us of a certain generation, it’s so much more than that. It’s birthday parties and cupcakes you brought to school. It’s the smell of mom’s kitchen. It’s childhood. In a box.

You may already know my obsession with boxed cake mix.

I always buy it when it’s on sale because I like to be prepared in case I need to whip up a quick dessert, but also, because a homemade, from scratch cake, is not the same.

My boyfriend agrees.

I grew up baking Pilsbury or Betty Crocker cakes with my mom and grandma. They were easy, and more importantly, they were easy to make with a child.

Most of us have these cakes as our earliest kitchen memories because they were simple enough to assemble for mom to leave us to it. The mixing part at least.

Here, crack two eggs. Here pour in this water. Now add this oil. Ready? Here’s a spoon. Stir it up!

And you did. You stirred and stirred and stirred and stuck your finger in the batter and stirred and stirred and licked the spoon and stirred some more.

Mom or grandma would come along and help you pour the batter into the pan and put it in the oven.

But you did the hard part. You did the mixing. You made the cake. And once it cooled, you would get to do the finishing touches of adding the frosting.

Funfetti just looks like a cake a kid would make. An explosion of colors.

And because it’s bright and cheery, and because it always marked special occasions in our lives, it was the first thing that popped into my head when my boyfriend called me with good news.

He was getting a promotion at work!

That clearly called for Funfetti.

I didn’t feel like making a cake though.

So I was thrilled when I found a gem of a recipe for Funfetti cookies on the Pilsbury site. My last venture in cake batter cookies was a great success, so I jumped into this one too.

You will need

  • 1 box Funfetti cake mix. (Yes you can use vanilla and just add sprinkles, but no it’s not the same. You need this box.IMG_0657If you have to ask why, you will never understand. But you should call your mom and why she deprived you, why she never made you a Funfetti cake as a kid)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375.

Pour the cake mix, eggs and oil into a bowl.


Grab the wooden spoon, and like when you were a kid, start mixing. The batter will form a dough ball.


Spoon out the dough onto a greased cookie sheet. I went with my usually golf to ping pong ball size dough blobs.


Bake for 11 minutes.

Okay. Mine took 11 minutes, but yours might not. 8-12 minutes let’s say.


I got 28 cookies out of the dough. Most recipes I found online said you would get 30, but I think I made mine a little bigger. I maybe ate some of the dough before it got baked, but definitely not two cookie’s worth.

Bigger cookies. Yea that’s where the two cookies went.

Let cool.


Don’t they just look like a celebration on a plate? I would send some to Tukka Rask if I could after the Bruins just swept the Penguins (yup, Bruins advance to Stanley Cup), but since I don’t have his address, we’ll just have to overcelebrate the promotion and eat the whole batch ourselves.

You can frost them with the Funfetti frosting if you want, but they’re perfect just like this.


Leftover Veggie Crustless Quiche

Friday night’s calzones left me with a half a bag of spinach and a container of mushrooms in my fridge.

Much as I wanted to stop at the store and peruse the produce section ( I like grocery shopping. I know. I’m strange), I knew I had food to use in my fridge.

I hate having food go to waste.

Usually when I have leftover veggies, I sautee them up and toss them over pasta.

Unfortunately, we just had pasta last night.

So I racked my brain.

And came up with this.

Leftover Veggie Quiche.

This is a crustless quiche so it’s super quick to prepare and needs only a few ingredients:

  • some veggies (I’m using spinach and mushrooms and some scallions)
  • parmesan or another shredded cheese (optional) (I also scooped in some ricotta because the sell by date’s approaching)
  • 4 eggs
  • milk
  • butter (to grease the pan, you can use cooking spray too)

Sautee the veggies in some olive oil and black pepper over medium heat. Remember they will cook some more in the oven, so don’t cook them all the way.

Meanwhile, grease a pie pan or a baking dish. You can use whatever you have on hand – glass pyrex casserole, a brownie pan – I’m using a pie pan because I have one and because it’s dishwasher safe. One less pot to wash!

When the veggies are cooked, dump them into the greased pan in an even layer.


I, for whatever reason, cooked the spinach first, put it in the pie pan as my bottom layer, then cooked the mushrooms and laid those on top of the spinach. I tossed the chopped scallion over.

In a bowl, crack four eggs, pour in some milk, sprinkle in some cheese, scoop in a spoonful of ricotta, add a few grinds of black pepper if desired and whisk away.


When the yolks are broken and well combined, pour the egg mixture over the veggies.


Bake in a 350 degree oven until the eggs are set. About 30 minutes.


Slice, serve with a side salad and some crusty bread.


I’m starting to notice just how often I type the words crust bread, and, subsequently, just how often I eat crusty bread.

I think I have a problem.

Is there a crusty bread eaters anonymous?


This is a crustless quiche.

No crust means no bread. An otherwise breadless meal.

And I need carbs.

I did have yogurt today for lunch. And fruit.

Totally healthy. And totally breadless.

So, I’m perfectly entitled to my crusty bread tonight.

What say you, Rachael Ray, is that the correct girl math?

I was always bad at math. I’m an English major.

Oh well.

The math I can handle? Dinner ready with only five minutes of prep + a nice long hot shower during the thirty minutes while the quiche bakes + only one pan to wash = a very calm and relaxed girl ready to settle in for some Game 7, Blackhawks vs Red Wings old school hockey!


Mexican Chili

The best friend of the itty bitty city kitchen is the one pot meal.

Only pot to make room for on the limited counter space.

And more importantly, only one pot to wash.

This is especially important after a long day at work. It’s even more important on hockey night.

Two nights ago, the Rangers thwarted the Bruins plans for a sweep, winning game 4 in the series in overtime 4-3. The series stands at 3-1. Bruins win, they’re in. Rangers win, they force a game 6 and hold onto Stanley Cup hopes.

This is going to be an intense game. You’re not going to want to have to wash stacks of dishes.

It’s supposed to be summer. It’s supposed to be time for seafood and burgers and freshness.

But, like I said before, in New York it’s 53 degrees with 23 mph winds.

Dinner calls for something that will warm us up. And be easy to eat during the game.

But after a long, cold winter of soups and stews and potatoes and roasts, I needed something different.

I am so ready for summer, and summer makes me think of Mexican.

Peppers, black beans, avocados, spicy chorizo, a crisp refreshing Corona.

How to take those flavors and make an easy to eat meal (tacos are too messy for hockey-watching on the couch) that will chase away the chill in the air.

This is my Mexican chili

You will need:

  • 1 bell pepper (any color is fine. I used green because those looked the best at the store)
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 2 portabella mushrooms
  • 2 cans black bean
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 1 can corn
  • olive oil
  • chorizo (note if you want to make this vegetarian leave out chorizo and add in some taco seasoning instead)

Drizzle olive oil in the pan. I like to use my aluminum pot here.

Add the chopped onion and pepper and cook until soft.


Chop the chorizo and add to the pepper and onion.

Let cook so the chorizo flavors the oil and the peppers and onion.


Add the cleaned and chopped portabella.

When the mushrooms are cooked down, pour in the can of diced tomatoes.

Stir and let come to a bubble.


Wash and drain the beans and drain the corn. When the tomato juices bubble, add the beans and the corn to the pot.

Stir. Cover. Let all the flavors come together.


Serve in bowls and add toppings as you wish.

Some ideas are taco cheese, monterey jack cheese, salsa, my avocado yogurt sauce (see here ) or even some crushed tortilla chips.


Lime. Corona.


Or, even better, try this little drink concoction.

Panache. (Also called a Shandy.)

This is a fantastic summer cocktail.

You just need any light beer and limonade.

Limonade is a French soda. It’s like a carbonated lemonade.

Going with the Mexican food thing, we used Corona.

Pour the beer into a frosty glass and add some limonade – roughly 2 parts beer to one part limonade. If you want it more citrusy, you can go one to one.


Chili. Chips. Panache.


Oh. And the game. Don’t forget to turn that on.

Let’s go Rangers!

Hockey Night Calzones

Meatless Mondays.

They’re great. They get everyone thinking about the effect of meat on our bodies and on the environment. They also help you detox after a weekend of heavy eating and boozing.

I like to go against the grain a little though.

We go meatless on Fridays.

Maybe it’s because with Greek Easter and Easter so far apart this year we had double the Lent. Maybe it’s just in me from years of Catholic school that Friday is a meat free day. But whatever it is, here’s my logic.

Rather than undo whatever you did over the weekend, why not set yourself up for some good choices?

That sounded lame didn’t it?

I’m sticking with blaming Catholic school.

Actually, I can blame my mom.

Now that I think about it, Friday night was always pizza night when I was a kid.

In case you didn’t guess by now, my parents are Italian. Being Italian, my mom and her family used to own a pizzeria. (My boyfriend’s Greek father also owned a pizzeria. Those Greeks just thing they can do everything!)

My mom came home every Friday and pulled out the pizza pan from the pizzeria, that had made hundreds and hundreds of pizzas and that was perfectly seasoned by the brick ovens of the pizzeria.

My friends were always in awe of the fact that she MADE pizza at home for dinner.

It’s not that hard really. I’ll show you some time.

So after a lifetime of Friday night pizza nights, I do admit that I often make pizza or pasta when Friday rolls around.

It being the Stanley Cup Playoffs, pizza is a great option.

But I wanted to mix it up a little bit.

So here are some super simple calzones. Perfect hockey food.

You will need

  • Frozen pizza dough, defrosted (feel free to make your own, but why?)
  • 1 carton white button mushrooms, sliced
  • spinach
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
  • half small onion, chopped
  • ricotta cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • black pepper

I almost always have frozen pizza dough in the freezer. It’s a nice safety net for last minute dinners or for those when you have no idea what to make.

To defrost the dough, place the dough on a floured plate in the morning and cover with a kitchen towel. I suppose you could use a paper towel. But my mom always used a kitchen towel. And as much as us girls hate to admit it, we tend to do things the way mom did.

When you get home from work, preheat oven to 400.

Drizzle olive oil into a pan and add onions and garlic, cooking on medium low until slightly browned.


Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until brown.


While the mushrooms cook (sauteed mushrooms is one of my top 3 kitchen smells by the way. Closely behind cinnamon baking and chocolate melting), divide the dough in half. Roll out each half as if you were making two mini pizzas.

Place the stretched dough on a foil covered cookie sheet. You can grease the foil lightly if you’re scared of sticking.


When the mushrooms are cooked down add a couple handfuls of spinach and carefully stir (otherwise you’ll throw spinach all over your stovetop like I did)


Wilt the spinach and add a few grinds of pepper. I’m adding parmesan later so no salt needed here.

Meanwhile, spread the dough with ricotta cheese, leaving space around the edges so you can seal the calzones.


When the spinach mushroom mix is cooked, scoop half onto each of the ricotta covered dough, making sure to confine the mixture to one side of the dough so you can fold it over in a minute.


Carefully fold the dough over, pinching the edges to seal.


Bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes.

If you’re making this ahead, you may want to undercook them a bit so you don’t overcook them the night you heat them up.

Grab a beer. Kick up your feet. And cheer on your favorite team.