Dessert Recipes
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10 Ways to Top a Store-Bought Cheesecake


Hi, it’s Colleen back again today, and I have a tip AND a recipe for you!

My tip? It’s totally OK to take shortcuts when you can find them in the kitchen!

So often we “kill” ourselves” to be Lil’ Miss Perfect when planning a party, BBQ or even a Sunday dinner. It’s all about what happens at those gatherings, right?? SO when you can find things to make ahead, allowing you to be more “in the moment” as a hostess… go for it! AND when you can find shortcuts… take them!

Here is a great idea for a summer dessert – cheesecake! Yup, I know, making a cheesecake takes planning, time and patience. You have to make it the night before so it can set up in the fridge overnight, and you have to pray to the cheesecake gods that yours doesn’t crack. And if it does crack, you have to get all super creative to strategically hide ’em!


Why not BUY a perfectly made cheesecake and dress it up with the bounty of summer fruits around us? There are so many delicious ways to top a store bought cheesecake Continue reading “10 Ways to Top a Store-Bought Cheesecake”

Appetizer Recipes
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Stuffed Tapenade & Cheese Sandwich

Hi! It’s Colleen again, and today’s post is all about the sandwich.

This summer, Mezzetta, the makers of high quality peppers, olives, and specialty foods, are giving you the opportunity to win $25,000 with their Mezzetta “Make That Sandwich” con-test.

All you need to do is make a sandwich featuring at least two of Mezzatta’s products and submit it through the form on their website. The grand prize winner receives $25,000, and two runner-up winners receive $1,000.

For a sandwich?? Oh yeah!

I love contests that get us to think outside the box and come up with something that not only we would enjoy…but others too! So to get your creative juices flowing, today I’m sharing my idea for a killer vegetarian summer sandwich featuring Mezzetta products.

For my sandwich, I decided to go meatless. I enjoy a good sandwich in the summer that I can easily transport and enjoy anywhere, and using Mezzetta products to come up with something interesting was so easy!

I knew I was going to use their Red Hot Chili Pepper Spread – it’s absolutely delicious…I literally can just eat it off of a spoon! I also decided to include their Garlic Stuffed Olives and their Roasted Peppers! Those three along with some readily available ingredients created a memorable sandwich that my family totally enjoyed Continue reading “Stuffed Tapenade & Cheese Sandwich”


Perfect Potato Salad with Bacon & Egg

Potato salad with bacon . . . how can you go wrong!?!

potato salad with bacon and egg

Hi, it’s Colleen here today with one of my favorite recipes — Potato Salad with Bacon & Egg! I wanted to call it “The Best Darn Potato Salad in the World” BUT I guess that would be a little over-the-top!

Almost nothing is more American than a big bowl of potato salad, and I’m sure that many-a-family keep their secret close when it comes to their potato salad recipe. Some people take making and presenting it very seriously, and I totally get that!! I wouldn’t mind traveling around and sampling forkfuls of potato salad from every state in the US. How fun, interesting and deliciously different would they be, plus the stories behind them I’ll bet would be fabulous!! Attention Food Network!!

potato salad with bacon

Part mashed so it’s creamy and delicious and part substance… to me that perfect balance. Forkful after forkful, that is what separates a good potato salad from a great potato salad! Plus, you can’t go wrong with bacon and hard boiled eggs. Enjoy!!

Perfect Potato Salad with Bacon & Egg
Recipe Type: Sides, BBQ
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes (about 5 big potatoes)
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard (or other grainy Dijon)
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked till crisp then cut or crumbled into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of the bacon grease
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 3 large hard boiled eggs cut into 6 chunks
  • Kosher salt & Pepper (be generous)
  • A couple of shakes of Red (Cayenne) pepper
  1. Scrub your potatoes, leave the skin on and slice into bite sized pieces. Try to make them different shapes and sizes – vary from 1” to 1 1/2″ chunks.
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 teaspoon salt and cook potatoes over medium heat until a fork easily slides through them (almost a mashed potato consistency) about 20 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, cook your bacon and reserve 1-1/2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
  4. As soon as the potatoes are done, gently pour all of the hot water out of the pot, rinse the potatoes with cold water, then strain them into a colander and rinse some more.
  5. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise and mustard and whisk until combined.
  6. Add the potatoes and gently toss till coated.
  7. Add the bacon grease, crumbled bacon, scallions, eggs, salt, pepper and Cayenne and toss until fully combined. Taste and adjust.
  8. By now your potato salad should be part creamy and part formed. If it is not creamy enough, gently use the back of a fork and mash up 15% of the salad, toss again.
I like to make this at least 3 hours ahead of time to give the flavors a chance to mingle. You can make this the day before, however, add the scallions, eggs and bacon a few hours before serving. I also usually make a bit more of the mayo and mustard mixture to freshen and moisten the salad since overnight it becomes a little drier than I would like for serving.[br][br]Like I always say – taste and adjust and make it your own![br][br]Enjoy!


Drink Recipes

The Ultimate Red Sangria Recipe

The Ultimate Berry Sangria Recipe

Hello June! The air is filled with delicious BBQ smells, kids are roaming around neighborhoods on their bicycles, chalk drawings are decorating sidewalks and driveways, pools are opening, graduations are happening and gardening is on our minds!  

It’s Colleen here today to share with you one of my favorite things about Summer…BBQs!!

What is better than a BBQ, I ask?  

The kids have fun hanging out, swimming and playing outdoor games. The adults have fun playing rounds and rounds of cornhole, horseshoes and maybe a pick-up wiffle ball game with the kids. There is fantastic food and drinks a’plenty! The drink I look most forward to is a well-made Sangria. When it comes to drinking wine by the glass, I go for white, however when it comes to Sangria – I only have eyes for a red!

Here is a wonderful crowd-pleasing Berry Sangria recipe that is easy to make, which is key when you are having a gathering. An awesome cocktail at a party is always great BUT often the same someone has to keep making them again and again. I opt for fun cocktails that can be made in advance and are self serve Continue reading “The Ultimate Red Sangria Recipe”


Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans With Ham

Today I have a delicious recipe for Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans with chunks of ham and a spicy jalapeno mustard that takes this traditional BBQ dish to the next level. 


Spring is in full swing, and it’s time to get grilling! Today I’m celebrating National Grilling Month with El Diablo mustards and several fabulous food bloggers from across the country. Each of us received a box of El Diablo Mustards to try out and inspire a recipe that you might enjoy at a backyard BBQ, and I have a delicious recipe for Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans for you today.

The two things that make these beans extra special are the addition of ham and El Diablo Jalapeno Mustard! The mustard gives the beans a little kick without actually chopping up a jalapeno, and the ham chunks take it to another level! It’s an easy BBQ side dish that will have your family and friends asking you for the recipe.

Here’s the Baked Beans recipe in an easy printable format. ENJOY!

Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans With Ham
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Cuisine: BBQ
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 1 TBS grapeseed or olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup diced ham steak
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 TBS El Diablo Jalapeno Mustard
  • 1/2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 TBS chili powder
  • 3 – 15oz cans baked beans (drain 1 of the cans of sauce, keep the sauce from the other 2)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until soft about 7-8 minutes.
  2. Add in the ham and garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add in the syrup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and pork and beans (drain the sauce from one of the cans add in the other two cans as is). Bring beans to a slow simmer, lower heat and continue to cook for another 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste, season and adjust to your liking. If you want it spicier, add in a few dashes of Cayenne pepper.
  4. You can choose to serve this immediately or cool the beans, cover them and when ready to use them, reheat in a 375 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes.

Have fun checking out all the recipes from my foodie friends!

ENJOY! And happy grilling!

Drink Recipes

The Ultimate Bloody Mary Recipe

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mommas out there! Today I have something for you that miiiight make your Mothers Day a bit more…ummm, shall I say, relaxing?!

How about the Ultimate Bloody Mary Recipe?

The ULTIMATE Bloody Mary Recipe. Go big or go home. Get the details at

When you are going to indulge in a Bloody, I say, “Go big or go home.” After all, that’s what they are all about, right? Big, explosive flavors.

These Bloody Marys are bursting with flavor and spice, thanks to a horseradish kick and a few splashes of Tabasco, but you can easily customize them to suit your palate.

This is THE Ultimate Bloody Mary Recipe, exploding with flavor and practically a meal in itself. No bloody mary mix required.

I think shrimp lightly dusted with Old Bay seasoning hanging on the glass, in the glass and on the side is a must! But then again, I could eat shrimp for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think THAT is what I will do for myself this Mother’s Day — a shrimp fest!! With a side of Bloody Mary, lol! Honey…kids…are you listening?

The Ultimate Bloody Mary
Recipe Type: Cocktails
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
  • 16 oz tomato juice
  • 2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • ½ TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes of Tabasco
  • 1/2- 1 TBS prepared horseradish (not horseradish sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons of pickle juice
  • 1 tsp olive juice
  • 1 tsp pepperoncini juice (optional)
  • a few shakes black pepper
  • ½ a teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • 4-6 ounces of good quality vodka
  • Garnish ideas: Pickle spear, celery stalk, green olives (plain or stuffed with blue cheese), shrimp, pepperoncini, lemon slice or a lime slice.
  1. Wet the rim of two (16-20 oz) glasses with a piece of fresh lemon. Then dip the glass rims into a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning (shake it onto a flat dish).
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Fill glasses halfway with ice.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together in a separate pitcher or container, stir it up well, and then pour mixture into your cocktail shaker, one batch at a time. Give it a good shaking to get it nice and cold, then pour the contents into your prepared glass.
  4. Slide in a pickle spear or stalk of celery, a few Old Bay seasoned shrimp, a couple of big fat olives, and you are good to go. You can also add a lemon and or a lime slice, and if you’re feeling crazy a whole pepperoncini…Yum!
Customize this to your liking…taste and adjust before you pour them into the glasses. If this is too spicy, add a bit more tomato juice; if it is not spicy enough, add more horseradish and/or Tabasco.


Appetizer Recipes
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Caprese Salad Stacks with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Stack with Balsamic Reduction

Hi, Its’s Colleen here with one of my favorite things to eat… To-ma-toes!

I have quite the obsession with tomatoes. As far back as I can remember I have adored them. My dad grew a huge garden while we were growing up. If you didn’t find me sitting high in the cherry tree eating my weight in sour cherries or contemplating life in general, I was probably in the garden, sitting criss-cross-applesauce, happily munching on sun-kissed tomatoes Continue reading “Caprese Salad Stacks with Balsamic Reduction”


Browned Butter & Scallion Mashed Potatoes


With just 6 days left until Easter, many of us are planning what to serve or bring to the big dinner, as well as how to decorate and add the extra touches that make our holidays memorable.

Everyone loves mashed potatoes right? I spied these a-mazing Browned Butter & Scallion Mashed Potatoes years ago in a Bon Appetit Magazine, and I instantly HAD to make them.

For holidays, I think its fun to change them up into something a little more special — something you remember and maybe associate with that meal or holiday. These do just that for me. The browned butter takes this to a different level.

These potatoes really are spectacular…simple, yet spectacular!

Here’s a printable recipe for your convenience.

Browned Butter & Scallion Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Type: Side Dishes
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
  • 5 pounds potatoes such as Yukon Gold or Russett, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 bunches scallions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more of black pepper
  1. Cover potatoes with cold water in a heavy pot and add 1 teaspoons salt to the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and scraping up brown bits, until foam subsides and butter is golden brown (but be careful not to burn it), about 8 minutes. Add scallions and pepper and cook, stirring, until scallions become wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Drain potatoes in a colander, shaking until mostly dry. Force potatoes through a potato masher or return them to the pot and mash hot potatoes with a potato masher.
  4. Fold browned butter mixture, milk and sour cream into the mashed potatoes season with salt and serve.
  5. Tips: In place of the scallions you could substitute shallots or minced sweet onion. You can also add in crispy bacon or pancetta to take these potatoes over the top!

What is the dish that makes your Easter or favorite holiday memorable?


Dessert Recipes

Easy Chocolate & Peanut Butter Shooters

These chocolate peanut butter shooters are the perfect small dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving you too full.

Hi, it’s Colleen, and today I have a sweet treat for you!

I don’t know what it is, but the combination of chocolate and peanut butter gets so many of us excited…am I right?  I mean, chocolate on its own is wonderful!  Peanut butter on its own is delicious too – but put those two together and something irresistibly magical happens!

For this recipe, I am going to give you 2 different options, the one you choose is the once that speaks to you most…think about, just how much do you love chocolate…just how much time do you have to make it…just how much effort to you want to put into it? The real recipe here is the peanut butter filling, I say you take that and then decide how you wish to highlight it with its chocolate counterpart.

I am showing you a super easy recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Shooters Continue reading “Easy Chocolate & Peanut Butter Shooters”

Breakfast Recipes

Chocolate Chip Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Chocolate Chip Irish Soda Bread

Hi, all. Colleen here! I’ve been tinkering with my Irish Soda Bread Recipe for 20 years, and I have it to the point where I think its perfect. I get many requests/orders to make it (especially this time of year).

For fun, I decided to add chocolate chips to it to see how that would be. It was good, actually, and a nice change from the usual.

Irish Soda Bread, Souffle Bombay, Sweet Irish Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

You can make one large loaf, or split the sough into half and make two medium loaves… And remember, always let the fairies out by making an “X” with your knife in the center of the dough just before popping it in the oven! Bain sult as!

Chocolate Chip Irish Soda Bread
Recipe Type: Bread
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10
  • 4 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 TBS coarse or decorator sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Use a 10-12 inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch or better sides or 2 cake pans. Cut a circle of parchment paper out and line your pan(s).
  3. Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
  4. Add in the butter and raisins and stir well. Add buttermilk and egg to the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated – do not over mix.
  5. Pour mixture into pan(s), sprinkle with the coarse sugar and cook for one hour or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out dry. For smaller loaves, check after 45 minutes. Cool a bit then flip out of the pan(s) and peel off parchment paper.
  6. Serve warm out of the oven with a bit of butter or heat up a slice in your microwave anytime and enjoy the added perk of the wonderful smell in your home! I love to bring this to new neighbors as a hello!


Drink Recipes

The BEST Chocolate Martini Recipe EVER

You are welcome!

I thought I would get THAT out of the way. Hi, it’s Colleen and today I have an INCREDIBLE drink recipe for you.

The BEST Chocolate Martini Recipe EVER: This one is a keeper, y'all. Find out the surprise ingredient that takes this recipe up a notch!

Raise your hand if you want to be the life of the next party you go to. I am pretty sure I can make that happen for you. All it will take is 10 minutes at your stove to wow your friends, family and even some random strangers! If your lookin’ for love, THIS just may be the ticket (really…it could happen!)

We have Mardis Gras, St. Patty’s Day and big sports finals in the months ahead. I say forget the dip. Bring Chocolate Martinis instead! After all, who doesn’t love chocolate? Make that chocolate you can drink… in an adult version, AND you know exactly what you put in it to make it so decadent and delicious. That, my friends, is what I call a win-win!

You can serve this as a martini or even as a shot; it just depends on your audience. I am calling it a Chocolate Martini… well actually I am calling it the BEST Chocolate Martini You Have Ever Had. However, I make it with grain alcohol, aka Everclear (151 proof) so I guess technically in order to be a true martini, it’s supposed to have gin and vermouth. But I am tellin’ you it won’t matter.

Investing in a bottle of Everclear is so worth it. It’s about $16 a bottle, and it goes a very long way due to its potency. (And, bonus, it’s gluten-free!) Just ask for it since it is usually held behind the register. If you wanted to, you could switch it out for vodka.

You can shake it with ice first, but I say keep it simple – just keep it in your fridge in a quart-sized mason jar or glass bottle, shake it up real good and pour right into the glass. You can keep it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before serving too.

Bonus! You can make this recipe days ahead. Just keep it in the fridge, and it will be ready to go when you are! The expiration date will be the expiration date of the cream you use.

I said you are welcome, BUT maybe I should have said thank you! I love my job. It’s 1:10 in the afternoon on a Monday, and I have already enjoyed a Chocolate Martini, err I mean The Best Chocolate Martini in the World. See what I go through to bring you delicious recipes… Haha, I love my job!

If you make this, you HAVE to report back. I need to know if you are as in love with it as I am.

Chocolate Martini Recipe
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 3
  • 4 ounces of high quality dark chocolate (60% cacao – I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1 pint of heavy or light cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 TBS vanilla
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup grain alcohol (151 proof)
  1. Break your chocolate up into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the chocolate pieces, cream and sugar. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth – like hot chocolate.
  3. Add water and vanilla and stir until combined.
  4. Remove from the heat allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add in your grain (start with 1/3 cup), stir well, taste and adjust to your liking.
  6. Strain it through a mesh strainer, then pour it into whatever you choose to store it in (mason jars, decorative bottles, an old alcohol bottle, etc.)
  7. Place it in your fridge for up to 2 weeks or until the expiration date on your cream (however, I don’t think it will last that long.)


Main Dishes

White Bean & Bacon Soup

Hi, it’s Colleen and today I have a delicious new soup recipe for you to try!

White Bean Bacon Soup Recipe

Last week I met up with a few friends at the restaurant, Seasons 52. That place is always packed, and I know why… everything on the menu is under 500 calories, the offerings are creative & delicious, the atmosphere is comfortable, and the staff is attentive and friendly. For many people (myself included) that is a recipe for success!

I looked over the menu, asked what the soup of the day was, and when I heard White Bean Pesto Soup, I instantly knew I had to have it. All but one at our table followed suit, and we were happy we did! That soup was SO delicious, I knew then and there that I had to replicate it…immediately! So I did, and it was a complete home run!

Real Food Recipe | White Bean Bacon Soup Recipe

As a matter of fact, I had a batch of this soup left in my fridge when the crazy ice storm hit my part of Pennsylvania last week…we lost power for 3 days. The first night all I could think about in our dark chilly house as we huddled by the fire, playing every board game known to man, was this soup – so I grabbed a cast iron skillet, filled it up with the White Bean Soup, plopped it into the coals of our super hot fire, stirred it a number of times while my hand roasted like a chicken…then sat back in the candle and flashlight-lit family room and sighed with delight!

This soup is so satisfying and delicious that it truly is a meal in itself. (Unless you are ravenous or feeding a troop of hungry boys/men…if so, throw in a loaf of crusty bread and a nice salad and you are set!)

The addition of bacon and a dollop of pesto swirled in bring this soup over the top! If you have to omit one, I say omit the pesto…after all any day that has the potential for bacon in it is a good day in my book!  I hope you enjoy this soup!!

White Bean & Bacon Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This white bean and bacon soup is a copycat of the one at Seasons 52 and it is fantastic. The pesto adds a great flavor, but feel free to omit if you don’t have it.
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 TBS olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 cup small-diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 15-ounce cans of Cannellini beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
  • a few pinches salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS herbs (like basil or Italian seasoning)
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco or a sprinkling of red pepper
  • 32 (4 cups) ounces of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  1. In a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, cook the chopped bacon until crisp.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain it on a paper towel and place it in a small bowl for later use.
  3. Discard all but 1 TBS of the bacon fat. Add the olive oil and butter to the bacon fat and return the pot to the heat. Once melted, add your onions and carrots and allow them to cook till softened, stirring occasionally – about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and stir frequently for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, salt & pepper, seasoning(s) and stock. Stir well.
  6. Add Tabasco/red pepper and half of your reserved crispy bacon; simmer over med-low, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
  7. With 10 minutes left to go, use a spoon to mash about 1/4 of the beans, which will make the soup a bit creamier. Reduce the heat to low until the soup is finished cooking. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust your seasoning.
  8. Let the soup sit for at least 10 minutes prior to serving. When ready to serve, ladle into small bowls, top with a dollop of pesto and some crispy bacon and enjoy! This soup is fabulous reheated as well.
If you want this soup a little creamier, feel free to add 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. I didn’t try it, but I think this soup would be fabulous with the addition of a little shredded chicken (just before serving). [br][br]I use Gourmet Garden’s Italian Seasoning Tube for this recipe – but adding dried Italian herbs, basil or fresh parsley is fine.