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    Bringing back the lost art of home cooking.
    Jan 17, 2012 10:19AM

    Brie Cheese Bread Bowl

    Is it really almost Super Bowl Sunday?  It feels like it was just Thanksgiving!

    I love cooking for the Super Bowl.  It gives me a chance to make lots of cheesy, gooey, hearty food that I do not prepare any other time of the year.  Nachos, chicken wings, meaty chili, ribs, potato skins and franks-in-a-blanket all top my list of favorite Super Bowl foods.

    This year Joey is planning on having some friends over.  That gives me lots of freedom with the menu because a group of 16 year olds don't have many dietary restaints and will eat whatever I serve with pleasure.

    Although this Brie In A Bread bowl might be a little highbrow for a group of teenage boys, I love this recipe for Super Bowl Sunday.  It is very portable, so if you are going to a friend's house and need to bring a dish, this is perfect.  It can be served with slices of bread, crackers, raw veggies, or apple slices.  Plus, this recipe makes a lot of dip.


    <span style="font-size: medium;">Brie Bread Bowl

    1 loaf large round sourdough
    4 T. EVOO
    2 T. garlic powder
    2 (8oz.) blocks cream cheese, cut into cubes
    1 wheel of brie, rind removed and cubed
    1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced on the diagonal, to use for dipping (I like using a baguette)

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Cut off the top of the sourdough round. Set top aside and hollow out the rest of the sourdough.  Save the bread pieces for dipping.

    Using a pastry brush, brush the EVOO inside the sourdough generously.  Sprinkle the garlic powder inside the sourdough, seasoning it well.

    Fill the sourdough with the cream cheese and brie. Cover with the top that was cut off earlier.

    Completely wrap in heavy duty foil.  Bake for 1 ½ hours, or until cheese is hot and bubbly.

    Serve with the sliced bread and bread pieces.

    The best part of this dish?  Eating the bread bowl!


    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: bread bowl, sourdough, brie, appetizer, bread
    Jul 22, 2011 3:28AM

    Spicy Molten Blue Cheese Dip



    There is not too much to say about this simple, but amazing, Spicy Blue Cheese Dip.  Served hot and spicy, this dip is easy to make, but surprisingly complex in flavor.  It makes eating raw vegetables fun and delicious.

    Maytag Blue, made on a dairy farm in Newton, Iowa, and cave aged for 6 months for a full, rich flavor, is the best blue cheese out there, so if you can find it, use it.  You can substitute another blue cheese, but the Maytag Blue is worth the splurge.

    Get it ready to go into the oven and store in the refrigerator, up to a day in advance, until ready to cook.



    Spicy Molten Blue Cheese Dip (adapted from The New York Times)

    printable version


    1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1 pinch kosher salt

    1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

    1/4 cup mayonnaise

    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

    1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, more for serving if desired

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    4 ounces blue cheese (about 1 cup, crumbled)

    2 tablespoons chopped chives

    Celery sticks, chips or chicken wings, for serving.



    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cream cheese in bowl of a food processor and pulse to soften.

    Using a mortar and pestle or flat part of a knife, mash garlic and salt together until it forms a paste. Place paste in food processor along with cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pepper. Run motor until mixture is smooth. Add blue cheese and chives and pulse just to combine.

    Scrape mixture into a small (1-quart or smaller) gratin dish or baking pan, and bake until dip is melted and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle extra hot sauce on top, if desired, and serve hot or warm, with celery sticks and chips or chicken wings if you like.




    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Jun 13, 2011 3:05AM

    Baked Salami Appetizer

    Do you want to see an appetizer disappear in ten minutes?  Make a baked salami.  It is so easy to make and always the hit of a party.  It requires a little time and babysitting, but it can be made up to a day ahead of time.  I figure out when I have a two hour block of time to hang out at home and watch TV or a movie, and then I make the salami.  I don't set a timer to go off every 15 minutes.  I just keep my eye on the clock, and baste it when I remember.  It comes out delicious every time.



    Baked Salami Appetizer



    2 one pound salami

    1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar

    1 bottle chili sauce

    2 Tbsp lemon juice



    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

    Line a roasting pan with foil.

    Score each salami.

    Mix together remaining ingredients.

    Pour over salamis.

    Bake in 350 degree oven for 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes.

    Broil a few seconds at the end to make it crisper on top.

    Cut into one inch cubes and serve on toothpicks.


    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: chili sauce, Salami, brown sugar
    Apr 28, 2010 11:22AM

    Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta


    I love the "rustic" look of a crostata.  Finally, something where my homemade dough doesn't have to be perfect!  Actually...looking at this photo, it is not an attractive looking piece of food.  Don't let the looks fool you.  I am not a very good food stylist, nor am I the best food photographer.  I almost didn't print this photo at all.  I was just going to post some stock photos of a basket of mushrooms and a few springs of thyme.

    The dough on this crostata is very forgiving.  It is incredibly easy to work with, and if it cracks a little, that's OK.  Your filling can be a combination of your favorite vegetables and cheeses (I think meats are a bit heavy in a crostata,but if you want to throw some in there, go for it!).  I love sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and fresh thyme, so that is what I used as my filling.  Any vegetable combinations  will work...spinach, squash, eggplant, etc.  You can also get creative with your cheese.  I used mozzarella, asiago and fontina, but any Italian blend will be delicious.  I think the best thing to do is to go to your local farmer's market and see what looks good.  Last week, I went to the farmer's market and found some heirloom radishes and a wheel of farmhouse brie.  That is what happened to look good, so I grabbed it.  We ate the radishes with a little softened butter and truffle salt (OMG...AMAZING!) and I am still noshing on the brie.

    This crostata would make a wonderful dish to serve at brunch, lunch, as an appetizer, or even a light dinner.  I served it to my family as an appetizer to enjoy before a late dinner, and everyone LOVED it!  Leftovers will save in the fridge, but make sure to heat them in a conventional oven, or else the crust will become soggy.

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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: crostata, pancetta, dough, cheese, mushrooms
    Feb 5, 2010 1:27PM

    Bar Nuts

    One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is Union Square Cafe.  I ordered a very simple meal of roasted chicken, but it was the BEST roasted chicken I ever ate!  The true test of a chef is to taste their roasted chicken.  Only the best chefs can turn out a perfect roasted chicken...crispy skin, moist, well seasoned meat.  I was so impressed, that I purchased the "Union Square Cafe Cookbook" on the spot!  I never do that.  I usually avoid restaurant cookbooks, because it is way too complicated to try and recreate a restaurant dish at home, but the roasted chicken was in the book, so I had to buy it.

    The recipes turned out to be very adaptable for the home cook.  In the appetizer section, this recipe for Bar Nuts caught my attention right away.  I actually made these, before trying the famous roasted chicken.   Wow..were these a hit!  They were gone in an hour.  Now, when I make these, I double the recipe.  Even though they are amazing when served warm, they will keep in an airtight container for at least two weeks.  My friend Stephanie suggested that they would make a great topping for salads!  Why didn't I think of that?


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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: nuts, rosemary
    Feb 4, 2010 8:30AM

    Superbowl Sunday!

    I admit it...I don't like to watch the Superbowl (Super Bowl...is it two words?).  I love the half time show, and always enjoy the innovative and creative commercials, but I am SO not interested in the game.  I would actually rather stay home and take a hot bath.  What will get me to a Superbowl party is the food!  It is the one day of the year I can eat wings, chips, nachos, potato skins and pizza, without feeling too guilty, and a little bit like white trash.

    This Buffalo Chicken Dip is perfect for the big game!  It tastes just like Buffalo wings, but without the mess.  It is spicy, tangy and creamy.  It is best when served hot, so if you are bringing it to someone's house, reheat it in their oven.  If you can find the Tortilla Scoop chips, get those, because you will want big bites of this dip.  This dish is so good, it has its' own....wait for it.....Facebook page!  With more friends than me!!!!



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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: dips, buffalo, spicy, Chicken
    Dec 11, 2009 8:21AM

    Baked Chicken Meatballs


    Once you taste these meatballs, you may never go back to your old meatballs again.   You do not need to eat these covered in marinara sauce, with a huge plate of pasta.  They are so flavorful, they can stand on their own.  The recipe makes 12 meatballs, so plan accordingly.  I like to have extra, because they make a great lunch the next day, stuffed into a whole wheat pita, with some arugula, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette.   You can also make these into mini-meatballs, and serve them as an hor d'oeuvre.


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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: main dish ~ Tagged with: meatball, appetizer, Chicken
    Oct 20, 2009 9:27PM

    Vidalia Onion Tart AND The 30 Day Fitness Challenge


    No..these two topics have nothing in common....I just decided to start my 30 Day Challenge (see bottom on blog) on the same day as my Vidalia Onion Tart posting)....

    I hardly ever buy 'regular' onions anymore.  Since Vidalia onions are the official state vegetable of Georgia (I am not kidding!), they are available in Atlanta year round.  Vidalias are sweeter and more mild than regular onions, which I think have more "bite" and are hotter.  Vidalias also cause fewer tears when chopping.  


    I remember when Willard Scott, on The Today Show, ate a Vidalia onion like an apple!  That may be a bit too much for me, but they add great crunch when sliced and added to burgers, salads and sandwiches.  The only downside to Vidalias is that they do not store quite as long as traditional onions.  I like to use them up within a week or two of purchasing them, or they get soft and mushy.


    I found some gorgeous Vidalias ot the grocery this week and was inspired to caramelize them.  I wanted to get a super simple recipe that showcased the onions.  What better than an Onion Tart?  The onions taste like the onions of a French Onion Soup, and the base of the tart can be whatever you like it to be.  I happened to have a sheet of frozen puff pastry in my freezer that I wanted to use up, and it worked perfectly.  Crescent roll dough would be nice, phyllo dough would work, or even a simple, homemade pastry dough/pie crust.

    This tart would work as an appetizer, a light lunch or a side dish with dinner.


    Vidalia Onion Tart

    4 large Vidalia onions, sliced thinly

    4 thyme sprigs

    kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

    1/2 c. beef stock

    3 T. EVOO

    1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed for 40 minutes

    Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a baking sheet with Pam, or line with a non stick Silpat sheet.

    Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium.  Add onions and thyme sprigs.

    Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to caramelize.  Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook onions until they have fully browned.


    Add half of the beef broth, and stir, scraping up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  When the beef broth has cooked away, add the remaining beef broth and repeat until mixture has gotten thick and syrupy.  Remove the thyme sprigs.  Set the onion mixture aside.

    Roll out your pastry into a 10 X 16 rectangle.  With a sharp knife, evenly cut off the outer one inch edge of each side of the rectangle in strips.  Place the rectangle on the baking sheet.  Dip your finger in water, and run around the edges of the rectangle.  Now replace the removed strips of pastry along the edges of the rectangle on the baking sheet, pressing lightly to adhere.  With a fork, pierce the interior of the tart shell to prevent it from puffing up.  Do not pierce the edges.  Place in the preheated oven, and bake until the edges are golden in color, about 10 - 15 minutes.

    When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350.  Evenly spread the caramelized onions on the cooked pastry shell and heat until warmed through, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Removed from oven, to a cutting board and cut into wedges.  Serve right away.


    The 30 Day Fitness Challenge


    Even though I consider myself a healthy person, I have a tendency to get lazy when it comes to exercise.  Unless I have an "appointment" to workout (with a trainer, or I promised to meet a friend at the park to walk), there is a good chance I will find something else to do.....laundry, grocery shop, cook, meet friends for lunch, organize my closet, take a nap, etc.  I have 3 standing exercise appointments a week...two are in the Pilates studio, and one is for an hour of strength training.  I love all three of those workouts, and only cancel if I am feeling sick.  That leaves four more workouts in the week for me to motivate myself to do on my own (Wednesdays I do one hour of Pilates AND one hour of strength training).

    Over the summer I was doing really well, going to a couple of Power Yoga classes a week, and getting on the treadmill on the other days, in addition to my other workouts.  I was incredibly motivated.  Then, the gym replaced my favorite Power Yoga teacher with a teacher I didn't like, and I quickly lost my momentum.  Since then, I haven't had the motivation to get back into a regular routine on my own.

    I have no excuses....I am not working now (so I have plently of time), my gym offers dozens of classes everyday (plenty of variety), and I live half of a mile from Chastain Park (I can walk to the park!).  There are two excellent yoga studios within a 10 minutes drive from my house, and we have a  home gym, with a treadmill, a Wii, free weights, a Bosu ball, a Pilates Ring, a TV, TIVO, DVR and several workout DVDs.  I have my iPod, loaded with several cardio playlists, and I have three dogs that will walk with me whenever I want!  After reading this paragraph, I am actually embarrassed that I am not totally ripped!


    Option #1


    Option #2



    Say hello to the 30 Day Fitness Challenge.  Starting tomorrow (October 21), until November 19 (the week before Thanksgiving), I am promising myself that I will exercise at least 30 minutes, six days a week.  My goal is not weight loss (although that would be nice), it is to get back on the road to a more fit and healthy lifestyle.  I intend to focus on cardio, strength training (concentrating on strengthening my core) and flexibility.  The only change to my diet will be to add more water, and to stay away from junk food (somehow, a bag of candy corns ended up in my house, and I cannot stop eating them!).

    Tomorrow will be Day 1.  Wednesday, October 21.  Wednesdays are always easy for me because I have my double booking....strength training for one hour with Maureen in the morning, and a Pilates Tower class with Betsy at 6pm (see advanced exercise on the Pilates reformer below).  I never cancel those workouts, because I love them both, and Maureen and Betsy are expecting me to show up.  Looking ahead at my gym schedule, I see Cardio and Corepole class.  In Corepole, each class participant attach a resistance band to various anchor points on a weighted pole.  Then, either remaining in place, or rotating around the pole, various resistance based exercises are performed.  How fun does that sound?  I have to get my butt to that class!  I'll keep you updated on my progress (and of course...still provide yummy recipes).


    If you want to do a 30 Day Challenge, it can be anything you want.  You certainly can join me in a 30 Day Fitness Challenge, but maybe there is something else you have been wanting to do.  If you google "30 Day Challenge:, you will find everything from the "30 Day Oatmeal Challenge" (how to get more oatmeal into your diet in 30 days) to a "30 Caffeine Free Challenge"(rid yourself of caffeine in 30 days) to a "30 Day Husband Challenge" (not quite sure what that is).  Want to eat more fiber, try that.  Want to live green, try that.  My only suggestion is to make a specific plan.  For example, if you decide to eat more fiber, do a little research, and make a "roadmap".  Find the fiber content of various foods.  Find out how to add fiber to the foods you currently eat.  Find out how to safely and comfortably, add fiber to your daily diet, and then make a plan to to it.  Don't set out without a roadmap.  That will set you up for frustration, and possible failure.

    Good luck!!!!!!!!!

    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer, fitness ~ Tagged with: Vidalias, onions, Tart, fitness
    Aug 16, 2009 9:13PM

    This is why you need "good" balsamic vinegar....


    I ate these Goat Cheese and Balsamic-Honey Crostini as a tapas, at a Spanish restaurant that Phil and I ate at in Chicago.  I thought they were so simple, yet delicious and bursting with flavor.  I quickly jotted down the "recipe" (not really a recipe at all), and enjoyed the rest of the dish.  Not only is it easy to make, it is inexpensive, and incredible.  This dish is a MUST TRY!!!!!  The only requirement is to have a "good" balsamic vinegar.  Preferably an Italian one, aged at least 8 years.  I promise you, it is worth every penny.  You can find a great bottle of balsamic at Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma or online for under $20, and it will last for months.


    Goat Cheese and Balsamic-Honey Crostini

    1 baguette


    kosher salt

    6 - 8 oz. goat cheese, sliced into 6 one inch rounds

    1/4 c. dried bread crumbs

    4 T. "good" quality aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste*

    4 T. honey*

    *It is not necessary to measure out these ingredients, because you will be drizzling them directly from the bottle, over the crostini before serving.


    Preheat oven to broil, or begin to heat up your grill.  Slice the baguette into 6 thin slices.  Brush with EVOO and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Grill bread until it just begins to char.  Place bread on serving platter.  Set aside.

    Change oven setting to bake, 350.  Press the goat cheese rounds into the bread crumbs until they are completely covered.  Bake at 350 for 5 - 6 minutes, until they are warm and soft (not melting).  Remove from the oven and carefully set goat cheese on top of grilled bread.  Drizzle with balsamic, then honey.  Serve while warm.




    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: crostini, balsamic vinegar, appetizer, tapas, honey
    Jul 22, 2009 12:42PM

    Grilled Brie and Tomato on Crusty Bread


    This appetizer is so simple and easy to make, yet it is elegant and delicious.  Perfect for a family dinner, perfect for a dinner party, or to treat yourself.  This is why I love Tyler Florence.  Even though this recipe contains only 5 ingredients (plus salt and pepper), it has tons of flavor in every bite.  Crunchy grilled bread, creamy brie, tart tomatoes.... I don't even want to categorize it as an appetizer, because I would have this as a light lunch or supper, with a salad, or a bowl of soup, or even serve it for brunch.  Just looking at the photo is making me want some more!


    Grilled Brie and Tomato on Crusty Bread

    courtesy of Tyler Florence, Food 911

    1 pint cherry tomatoes

    2 T. EVOO

    kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

    3 T. unsalted butter *

    6 (1/2-inch thick) slices crusty bread (French bread worked beautifully)

    1/2 # brie (I used a triple cream)

    Heat the broiler.  Put the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO, and season with salt and pepper.  Broil until they burst and set aside.


    Butter the bread on both sides and top each with several slices of brie.


    Broil until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.  Top with the tomatoes and serve immediately.


    ***Although these were amazing, the second time I made these, I left out the butter.  The brie certainly provided plenty of flavor (not to mention fat and calories), and the butter made the toast almost, too oily for my taste.  Since there was plenty of extra liquid on the sheet pan from roasting the tomatoes,  I brushed the liquid from the bottom of the tomato roasting pan, on the bread, before topping with the brie.  It added extra flavor, and some moisture to the bread under the brie.  This is my preferred method of making this dish.




    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: cherry tomatoes, brie, Tyler Florence