Easter traditions

I love the U.S. because it’s such a mixing pot of different cultures.  Growing up, I lived in a small city where people were from all over the world- Mexico, Poland, Russia, Puerto Rico, Nigeria and so on.  I always had a fascination with my friends’ family traditions and cultures.  Since my mom is from Poland and also a Catholic, one of our most important traditions is the blessing of the Easter baskets, which in Polish is called Swieconka.  This happens on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) and  Saturday we take to=our decorated baskets to church, filled with sampling of traditional food to be blessed such as kielbasa, babka, eggs, pastries, and a chocolate or butter lamb representing the Lam of God.  It’s my favorite traditions because it brought our family together and my mom and her sisters would dress all the girls up in little dresses and bad haircuts as you can see below!

 POlishEaster{Not much has changed. Left: Easter circa 1989| Right: Easter 2014}

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{my Easter basket}

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{my mom and I on Easter day}

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{getting our baskets blessed at the beautiful Sacred Heart cathedral church}

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{my sweet goddaughter, Alexa}

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{cousins, taking on the family tradition}easter1

Sunday night Zucchini “pasta”

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Ingredients

  • 2 large Zucchini
  • 2 tomatoes on the vine
  • chicken sausage
  • 1 small jar of capers
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • garlic to taste
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms

Directions
1.Use a julienne peeler, like this one I bought from Amazon,  to slice the zucchini into noodles, stopping when you reach the seeds. Set aside.
2. Cook chicken sausage.
3.  Heat a skillet with olive oil.  Add Zucchini, capers, tomatos, parmesan cheese, mushroom, chicken sausage and garlic.
4. Sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

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Thin Mint Martini

One of my favorite St. Patty’s Day recipes is my pistachio cake which you can find here.  This year, I decided to take the green a notch further with some delicious girl scout inspired martinis.  I love chocolate and mint together so this drink is the perfect drink to get your liquor and peppermint patty fix.

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Ingredients

2 oz Bailey’s Mint Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz. Vanilla Vodka

Instructions

Swirl chocolate syrup on the bottom of a martini glass. Add Baileys with a hint of Mint Chocolate and vodka to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake  and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with something delicious such as a thin Mint Girl Scout’s cookie or junior mints.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

The perfect dinner in is sometimes more fun than a fancy restaurant. Finding a new recipe and cooking for a friend or that special someone can be very rewarding. Since going out to dinner can get expensive, I usually try to limit going out and try to order in or cook a nice meal on Fridays then go out on Saturday evenings. Since this Friday is Valentine’s Day, I want to cook something delicious for my hubby but also healthy since we will be leaving for Miami in a few weeks and need to be beach-ready.
I found the original recipe on pinterest and made a few weeks ago and my hubby LOVED it! The recipe is from Eat Yourself Skinny. The only thing I changes was I used mozzarella cheese instead of Jack and did not have any jalapenos. Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup Trader Joes Pepper Jack cheese
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery and jalapeno for about 5 minutes, until soft, then add cumin and garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in drained tomatoes (reserving liquid) and cook for 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  2. Stir in black beans, quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and pour reserved liquid from tomatoes in the bottom of your baking dish.
  4. Fill each halved bell pepper with 3/4 cup quinoa mixture and place in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Transfer stuffed bell peppers onto serving dish and drizzle pan juices over top. Enjoy!

Easy-Peasy Game Day Gaucamole

If you are like me, Superbowl is all about the commercials and the snacks!  It’s so hard to say no to fried wings and potato chips.  Come stocked with your own healthy Guac, filled with avocado and peas to lower your calorie count.  Your guests won’t even know there are peas in it… it will be our little secret!

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Using peas with just a small amount of avocado will save you a bunch of fat calories in this yummy dip. The remaining fat is of the heart-healthy variety. The nice thing about substituting peas is that the texture is the same. The green color is more vibrant, and the peas also lend a sweeter taste to the guacamole. I think I found my inner-peas (hehe).

Ingredients:

  • 10-ounce pack of frozen peas
  • 1/2 small ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2 ripe tomato,  chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Preparation:

Cook peas according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place peas, avocado and cilantro in a blender and blend to desired consistency. Spoon into a bowl with chopped tomato and onion. Add a squeeze of lime juice, stir and serve.