cocktails, cooking, Entertaining, Family, food, Mr. KK, recipe, thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving…Told In Pictures

This post is always meant to be one you can “read” with mindless scrolling through photos to experience our Thanksgiving. For those keeping track at home, the day started at 6:30am and ended at 10pm when the last guest left. A full day of food, laughs and drinks.

This photo diary includes recipes from our Thanksgiving meal! So here we go!

Today started before the sun came up. This is me, Black Friday shopping and simultaneously planning out the day’s timeline while lying in bed.

If you look closely you can see the reflection of the phone in my glasses.

I shared this tip last year, but here it is again. Your 2 best friends on Thanksgiving Day are: chicken stock and your phone – the alarms on your phone that is. I plan my whole day out and set alarms to keep me honest.

Next, you should be sure to taste taste everything to see if it needs more salt, or more bourbon.

Crazy hair, no makeup and full-on prep mode. Taste-testing the punch at 10:39am.

Our first step in making Thanksgiving a little easier (besides my phone alarm trick) was to make a punch ahead of time so we could eliminate the need for Mr KK to make 1,000,000 drinks before he could get a sip of his own cocktail. This punch was a crowd pleaser! Highly recommend – here’s the recipe for Bourbon Rosemary punch.

Aren’t they beautiful?

When we prep for hosting, I’m usually in charge of the inside of the house – which includes watching the dogs and entertaining Little Mister – while Mr. KK handles the outside. Yesterday was a little over 50 degrees, so we were able to set up our patio heater and chairs on our new deck in case anyone wanted to get some fresh air.

Mr. KK in his signature party day move: blowing leaves.
Two minutes before everyone arrived…let’s hope this all goes well! (Little did I know the fried turkey fiasco that was to follow!)

No one wanted to enjoy the deck…but we found 5 minutes to take a breather out there.

Let’s talk turkey…and everything else!

We did 2 turkeys again this year: a full turkey in the fryer (house in still intact) and a turkey breast in the oven. Both turkeys came out amazingly juicy! My mother-in-law preps the turkeys, and my father-in-law drives the birds over the morning of Thanksgiving and enjoys a drink with Mr. KK (and me!). Our turkey breast had a garlic and herb marinade and the fryer turkey had a rub on it.

Everyone makes jokes about my mother-in-laws breasts (we are nothing if not inappropriate) as part of tradition.

Another punch for me!

Thanksgiving Menu 2022


Butternut Squash Soup Shooters with Creme Fresh. I used this recipe for the soup and it was delicious. The sage and ginger really added a depth of flavor.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Rugelach

Every Christmas I make cinnamon and sugar rugelach, but this is a savory take on one of my favorite cookies. I used this savory rugelach recipe, but substituted gruyere for the cheddar, and candied pecans for the candied walnuts, just to put my own spin on it.

Interestingly, I found the recipe in a magazine – yes, a paper magazine – and I didn’t even look it up. Well, if you click on the recipe link, you’ll see that this recipe only got 1.5 stars from 2 reviewers. From personal experience, this recipe got 5 stars across the board from our family! Perhaps it was the subtle changes I made (nuttier cheese vs boring cheddar). But I highly recommend. Plus, you make it with pre made pie dough so it’s super easy.

Getting ready to cut and roll the rugelach.
Here they are! The can brown quite a bit on the bottom when the sugar from the pecans oozes out, but that just adds flavor!

The last appetizer I made was the Spicy Whipped Feta from this blog post. Somehow, I didn’t get a pick of it, but it was also really good; I served it with baby naans.

Soup Course

Our cousin (cousin in law?) made a delicious, light soup. I’m going from memory, but it was a veal stock with chicken and mortadella meatballs, with escarole and ditallini. It was the perfect first course!

Main Meal

The turkeys were the real stars of the show, and TBH, I don’t even really love turkey. But I loved picking off the crispy skin and dark meat that fell off the fried turkey!

That is one nice looking breast (well, two actually).
Dueling carvers! And a very messy kitchen!

This is happiest Mr. KK looked after an hour of stress when the new turkey fryer pan set up DID NOT WORK and he put the turkey in the oil and it barely covered the turkey. This was after the oil wasn’t hot enough and we had to heat it for another half hour. This was all going on while we were serving up the soup course, so thankfully no one heard all the swearing going on in the front yard. But it all worked out and we ended up with one golden brown bird. The best part about the fried turkey is that a 16 pound bird cooks in about 45 minutes!

For sides, we had stuffing (made with sourdough, apples, pancetta and apricots), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and Ina’s Cacio e Pepe Asparagus.

All assembled, it looked like this:

Little Mister was not a fan of any of the food we were serving (aren’t 8 year olds fun??) but he agreed to try some foods (which was a win). Here is his plate, which could easy be called “Deconstructed Thanksgiving” and be served in a Michelin Star restaurant for $50.

After he finished “eating” the plate looked the exact same except a small piece of turkey was gone (he gave turkey a “Maybe”), the tip of the asparagus was missing (10 minutes of chewing with a weird look on his face) and all of the sweet potatoes were gone (“this tastes like pumpkin pie filling”).


Pecan pie, pumpkin pie and cheesecake!

I am done fighting with WordPress and why it keeps adding this photo upside down. I have tried to fix this about 4 times. You get the idea.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving with loved ones!

8:04am…time to start changing this house into Christmas!

cooking, food, recipe

Your Favorite Dip, Now a Dinner

I could eat an entire meal made of up appetizers. I love everything appetizers have to offer: small dishes, cute sauces, finger foods and you can eat them without putting down your cocktail.

I have a few app favorites – but my one achilles heel is a warm and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip.


The proper (read: best) way to enjoy spinach and artichoke dip is on crispy sea salt pita chips or toasted naan. If you put that in front of me at a party, I would never leave the table, I don’t care who showed up at the door.

But I can’t just make a casserole dish of spinach and artichoke dip and eat it for dinner. (Grown ups don’t do that, do they?). So instead, I looked for another way to enjoy the flavors of the dip that I love that would be an acceptable – and healthier? – option. And guess what? I found one! This vegetarian dinner (I’m looking at YOU, Meatless Monday!) is made with spaghetti squash instead of using crackers or breads as the dip vessel.

NOTE: despite what you might think from 2 spaghetti squash posts in one month, I am not being paid by the National Spaghetti Squash Council to bring awareness to the squash. It just so happens that the old spaghetti squash is not only tasty, it’s versatile!

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Basically, you can take your favorite spinach and artichoke dip, and at the end when everything is being mixed together, you add in the cooked spaghetti squash until blended. Then put the mixture back into the hollowed out squash shells and bake like you would a dip until everything is hot and melty.

Check out that delicious, toasty and melty spinach and artichoke stuffed squash!

First, cut the spaghetti squash in half the long way (BE CAREFUL!) and scoop out the seeds.

Then drizzle the squash insides with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until soft. Let cool until you can handle them, and then scoop out all the string flesh into a bowl.

Meanwhile, make your favorite spinach and artichoke dip. I feel like everyone had a recipe for this dish that they love. I tend to mix and match. a few different recipes. This night, I cooked down the onions in oil and butter until they were soft, and then I mixed in the cream cheese and cheeses, then folded in fresh spinach and chopped artichoke hearts.

Next, add in the cooked spaghetti squash flesh. (Is there a better word for flesh? Because I’m starting to feel a little like Hannibal Lecter over here).

Once mixed, divide the mixture between the spaghetti squash shells and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until everything looks melted and slightly browned.

Enjoy the right from the shells with a nice side salad or veggie.

I hope you try this as a weeknight meal. I actually made this recipe on a Sunday, stuffed the shells, and then baked them 2 days later. It really saved me time of cooking and prep on a busy school night.

Just writing this blog post had made me hungry!

cooking, food, recipe

Shrimp and Tomato “Pasta” Recipe

Happy Sunday! If you’re Italian, you may have a traditional Sunday dinner in your family where everyone gathers together to eat delicious pasta! There is nothing better than a hot bowl of pasta on chilly fall day. Since I’m still doing my kickboxing challenge, we’ll be having “fasta” (fake pasta) tonight. And the family will not be coming over because no one wants to eat an impasta (see what I did there?).

Actually, this dish is delicious – I made it last week and it was so good it’s having a repeat performance. It’s shrimp and tomatoes and garlic over spaghetti squash. If you’re not familiar with spaghetti squash, when you cook it you can can shred the flesh with a fork and it turns into these long strands that resemble – you guessed it – spaghetti.

I made this dish up, so there’s no formal recipe, but I’ll do my best to add some measurements and directions. Even Mr. KK liked it!

Shrimp and Tomato Spaghetti “Fasta”

Serves 2


1 small spaghetti squash
About 14-16 uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like the 16-20 per pound or when I’m feeling fancy the 13-15 per pound)
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved (red, yellow, whatever you like)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
Chicken stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (be careful!) and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle some olive oil inside both halves of the spaghetti squash and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side down on the baking sheet and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife slides easily into the skin and the squash is fully cooked. Let cool.

While squash is cooling, place shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the tomatoes around the pan until they are coated in the oil. Sauté until the tomatoes skin starts to wrinkle up a bit, abound 6-8 mins. Add about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and reduce heat to low. Allow the tomatoes and garlic to simmer in the chicken broth until the tomatoes soften and the stock starts to reduce just a bit (you don’t want it to reduce too much, this will be your “sauce” for the dish).

Pop the pan with the shrimp in the 375-degree oven and cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.

When spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh into long strands. Fill two bowls with spaghetti squash, then divide the tomato mixture into the two bowls and place the shrimp on top.

It’s surprisingly simple to make, and honestly really, great. The more garlic the better!

cocktails, recipe

My New Favorite Cocktail

Because it’s Friday – and because I’m doing this crazy diet that doesn’t allow any alcohol – let’s talk cocktails!

Backstory: Mr. KK loves bourbon. As for Moi, I do not drink brown liquor. I can’t even get past the smell when the glass is under my nose to even taste it, but the fumes tell me all I need to know: hell to the no.

But, love does crazy things to you, like the time I made myself like IPAs and it made Mr. KK so happy that all those calories were worth it!

When it came to brown liquor – and acquiring a taste for it – I knew it wasn’t going to be from me popping open the Pappy and drinking it straight. It would require a cocktail – the right cocktail – in order for me to overcome my nose-wrinkling reaction to bourbon.

And boy, did I find it!

I introduce to you, the cocktail that will make anyone like bourbon (at least in this drink): the Rosemary Brown Derby!

I found this amazing recipe here, but I listed the ingredients below. You simply take tangy grapefruit juice, woodsy rosemary, sweet honey and nostril-burning bourbon and voilá: you have the drink of the summer (and fall, and spring…)

Rosemary Brown Derby Cocktail

Makes 1 drink


  • Ice
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice (you really need to use fresh grapefruit juice here, the bottled stuff will not taste the same)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, plus more to garnish
  • Soda water (club soda)
  • Sliced grapefruit for garnish (optional)


  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, grapefruit juice, fresh lemon juice, honey and small piece of fresh rosemary to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with soda water, fresh spring of rosemary and slice of grapefruit (optional).

Now, I like to add a little something special to this drink: grapefruit ice cubes!

Look at the color of those cubes! GORGEOUS!

This is where the bottled ruby red grapefruit juice comes in handy. I simply pour the grapefruit juice into an ice tray and let freeze. Instead of using regular ice cubes that can water down the drink, these will melt adding more grapefruit flavor.

This cocktail would be FANTASTIC for before dinner drink for Thanksgiving with the citrusy grapefruit and lemon, and the woodsy rosemary. I highly recommend making one…or four.


Exercise, food, kickboxing, recipe, workout

My 3-Week Be Healthier Challenge

Back in March, I returned to in-person kickboxing at the ILoveKickboxing Studio. It was time to get back on the big red mat and kick it in person and be held accountable.

Since then, I’ve been going rather erratically, because life sometimes gets in the way. Happy hour sometimes gets in the way, too. And patio cocktails.

Anywho, way back in February of 2020 I joined a 21-day challenge at the studio. We weighed in, had a meal plan and had to commit to going to class at least 3x a week. The challenge started around Presidents’ Day and lasted until the first week of March. And we all know what happened the second week of March 2020…

Surprisingly, I was able to keep at that healthier meal plan and working out at home (the studio did Facebook Live kickboxing classes). This was before we adopted Bruno, our high-maintenance puppy, who cannot be left unattended. This was also when the Little Mister had no daycare and was sleeping until 10am everyday. I found myself with more free time. I ended up losing over 20 pounds during 2020, which I felt was a win during a time when all I wanted to do was eat my weight in brie.

Apparently those 20 pounds really missed me over the last 2 years because they slowly started coming back.

Now, the kickboxing studio is doing another 21-Day Challenge called “Fit 2 Feast” where you start on November 1 and end right before Thanksgiving. I personally refer to this challenge as “Starve Yourself Before You Stuff Yo’Self”.

Let’s be real: this is the HARDEST time of year to try and be healthier. There are parties and dinners and Christmas cookies and fires and wine and cheese and cocktails and parties and wine.

This time around, however, they have upped the game a bit. Not only is it eating healthier (and likely a lot less food) but also removing bad foods and toxins from your life. No eggs. No dairy. No processed sugar. No alcohol. No tasty carbs like pasta. Did I mention no alcohol? So…no fun?

Despite all of that, I am dedicated to making this work! I bought tons of healthy foods, I have gone to kickboxing 3 times this week so far and I have been drinking lots of water. And, since this is a competition to lose the most % body fat, I was sure to eat a delicious steak, potato and wine dinner Sunday night before my 6:45am weigh in on Monday morning. All’s fair in love, war and scales.

Being someone who loves food, flavor and cooking, I had to ensure that I was eating dinners that tasted good.

I’d like to share with you my “Baked Mexican Sweet Potatoes” which are delicious (even Mr. KK loves them) and meet the strict food requirements of this challenge.

Baked Mexican Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is entirely made up by me to follow the rules of my challenge. Please, by all means, inject all the fat and flavor you’d like in your own version (like cheese and sour cream).

I swear there’s a sweet potato under there.

First, I baked 2 sweet potatoes until they were soft inside. I actually cheated and microwaved them until they were soft, then popped them into a 450 degree oven for 20 mins for the skin to crisp (it’s just faster).

While they were in the over, I browned a pound of ground turkey in a little bit of olive oil, breaking it up into small pieces. Once browned, I added a little bit of salt (sorry, had to be done), some garlic powder and a healthy dose of chili powder. I mixed it all together, added about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water and reduced the heat to let it simmer until some of the liquid evaporated.

How to prepare:

Split open the sweet potatoes and then mash them up a bit in their skins. Top with:

  • 6 oz of your taco turkey
  • 1/2 cup rinsed black beans
  • Slices of fresh jalapeno
  • Lots of fresh salsa (not the Tostitos kind, but the fresh kind sold refrigerated near the vegetables)
  • 1/2 of avocado

And that’s it. It is actually really delicious and filling!

Poor Mr. KK has to deal with me trying to blog every day while I am hungry and denying myself potato chips and ice cream. Rough month for him.

cooking, food, NaBloPoMo, recipe

It’s Comfort Food Season!

One of the best things about fall – besides dry and crisp weather for amazing hair days – is the comfort food. 

When the leaves start changing, so do my cravings. After six months of salad, I’m ready for warm comforting meals.

The 3 Best Soups and Chilis for Cold Weather

1. Chili

Photo from The Wholesome Dish

What constitutes a good chili can spark many debates: beans or no beans, thick or juicy, and – of course – spice level.

I have made many variations of chili over the years, many times never following a recipe and just adding what feels right to the pot. And guess what? No matter what you throw in, chili usually ends up tasting halfway decent.

Last year I came across this chili recipe. It is simple, doesn’t take all day to cook, and is really, really good.

I share with you: The Best Classic Chili Recipe, courtesy of The Wholesome Dish.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (NOTE: I use a package of meatloaf mix here, a mix of beef, pork and veal and it adds another layer of meaty flavor)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


  • Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until well combined.
  • Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), drained beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  • Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with all of your favorite chili toppings! I tend to put out cheese, sliced fresh jalapenos, avocado and sour cream.

2. Meat Soup

With a sexy name like “meat soup”, how could you not want to try this recipe? This recipe is from Mr. KK’s family, and is a staple during the winter. This soup brings Mr. KK back to his childhood, sitting at his grandmothers kitchen table, and – later in life – at home with his parents on a Sunday afternoon. His grandmother used to make it on the stove, but it is just as delicious (and easier!) in the Instant Pot.

And, being a family recipe, there are ZERO measurements for anything! The best kind of recipes!


  • Carrots (I use about 4-5 good sized carrots, cut into discs or half moons uniform in size)
  • Onion (The original stovetop recipe used just one full onion peeled and added to the pot; I chop an onion for the Instant Pot recipe)
  • Celery (About 2-3 stalks, diced)
  • Beef shank (The meatier, the better. If it has a LOT of meat on it, you can just use one; if it has too little meat on it, use multiple)
  • Beef stock (I use unsalted, and you use enough to cover the ingredients; you could also use a mixture of beef stock and water if regular stock is too salty)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (an actual measurement from the original recipe!)
  • “Any seasoning you may want” (I will add salt because I use unsalted stock; you can also use other dried seasonings, however, I tend to skip them and just go with gold old kosher salt)


  • Put carrots, onion, celery in the Instant Pot.
  • Put your beef shank(s) on top of the veggies.
  • Add about 6-8 cups of liquid: either the beef stock or beef stock/water combo to cover the veggies and meat.
  • Add the can of tomato sauce.
  • Add your seasonings (just salt for me!).
  • Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  • Manually release steamer.
  • When it’s safe, open the lid of the pot and remove the beef shanks (be careful, they may fall apart a little bit).
  • Shred the meat from the shanks into bite sized pieces and put back into the Instant Pot.

Now, you can absolutely eat this soup just like this. However, being Italian (and never truly full), we add a little pasta to our soup for make it more of a meal. The preferred pasta for this soup is: Acini de Pepe, which are small little pearls of pasta. You can find it as most grocery stores or Italian food stores.

If you are using pasta, cook the pasta separately from the soup according to the package. When cooked, add the desired amount of pasta to a shallow bowl and ladle the meat soup over it.

I then add a TON of grated parmesan cheese on top, which brings a more salty and nutty flavor to the soup.

3. Ina Garten’s Italian White Beans and Escarole

Image from The Food Network

Oh, Ina, how I love you. My girl crush is REAL.

My grandmother used to make escarole and beans (or, as we Italians pronounce it: sche-daul and beans). In her version, she put cut up pepperoni, which added a nice kick.

Ina’s version is meat free but full of flavor (likely from the 2 tons of cheese you put in). NOTE: this recipe is Ina Garten’s…I am not taking credit!


  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans white cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 large head escarole, leaves separated, trimmed, washed and spun dry
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Drain the beans, rinse and drain again.
  • In large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat (I use my Le Creuset which works perfectly).
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant but not browned (SO important).
  • Add the chicken stock, the drained beans, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • With a potato masher or large spoon, mash half of the beans in the pot and simmer uncovered another 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stack escarole leaves on top of each other and cut them crosswise into 3-inch-wide strips.
  • Add the greens to the pot, cover, and steam the greens over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, stirring the greens into the beans about halfway through.
  • Off the heat, stir in the pecorino and parmesan cheeses, taste for seasonings and serve warm.

I can’t tell you how creamy, garlicky and delicious this dish is. It would go well with some crusty Italian bread for sure.

Happy warm and comfy eating!

cooking, food, recipe

Ode to the Potato

Potatoes are one of the most perfect foods on the planet.

They are so versatile: you can bake them, roast them, hasselback them, mash them, french fry them, hash brown them, and even turn the into pasta. Very few foods an claim this amazingness.

As much as I love potatoes, I don’t eat the as often as I would like. This short, pear-shaped body would likely morph into a pineapple if I got the fries instead of salad every time.

But everyone once and I while, I treat myself (and, indirectly, Mr. KK). Last night was one of those nights. I busted out the big guns and made Gorgonzola Twice Baked Potatoes.

Gorgonzola Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe


2 Russet baking potatoes
Crumbled gorgonzola cheese (exact amount depends on your taste; I tend to use maybe 1/2 a cup or a little more)
2-3TBSP of sour cream
Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash and completely dry potatoes. Place them on a baking sheet and piece them with a knife (about 5 good pierces per potato)
  3. Bake the potatoes in the oven until they are crispy on the outside and a paring knife glides in easily, about an hour
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle them (reduce oven temp to 400 degrees)
  5. Hold the warm potato in your palm, and using a knife, slide off a little oval flap of potato. This will be the opening you will use to scoop out the potato. I usually do one that’s about a few inched long and an inch or two wide. It should just be across the length of the top of the potato (see photo below)
  6. Scoop out potato from both potatoes into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher to remove any lumps.
  7. Add cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix slowly. Add milk as needed to loosen the mixture just a bit – it should still have a very thick consistency and hold together.
  8. Put the stuffing back into the potato shells, place stuffed potatoes back on the baking sheet.*
  9. Warm and slightly brown the tops of the potatoes in the over for about 10 minutes (or as long as you need to get the filling hot and the cheese a little melty).

*At this stage, you can wrap the potatoes in foil and refrigerate for a day and then bake the next day in the oven at 350 until the are hot, then increase to 400 to brown the tops a bit.

Steps 4 and 5: the hollowed out potatoes. Just slide a small flap of the top so the potato holds its shape when it’s empty.
Scooped out potato and gorgonzola cheese.
Add sour cream, salt and pepper. After mixing start to add a little bit of milk to moisten the mixture just a little bit!
Refill your potatoes and brown them in the oven!

Are these good for you? Not likely. Are they delicious? YOU BET.

These are probably one of my favorite ways to enjoy a potato. Though roasted baby potatoes with oil, garlic and rosemary are a close second. And the french fries from our favorite beer bar. Oh, and gnocchi. Who am I kidding? I like ALL potatoes. Except scalloped potatoes, which I feel are that second cousin of the potato that no one wants to invite to family reunions.

Speaking of adoring potatoes, my child doesn’t like mashed potatoes. Let me repeat that: my child does not like mashed potatoes. I’m not quite sure how this relationship is going to turn out, to be honest.

cooking, food, NaBloPoMo, recipe

Cozy Meals for a Crazy Year

Is it just me, or is it hard to eat healthy when the weather cools down? I don’t know about you, but when it’s 25 degrees outside, I find it difficult to eat a salad.

Cooler temps call for warm, comforting meals. And in year when we’ve been dressing for comfort, there’s not reason we shouldn’t be eating for comfort, too.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite comfort food recipes for the upcoming winter season.

KK’s Top 5 Comfort Foods

Ina’s Penne Vodka

I’ve shared this recipe before by Ina Garten, but it’s worth sharing again. This pasta is rich and creamy – with a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes – and hard to eat just one serving. You will overeat this pasta, but it will be worth it.

Get the recipe here.

Beef, Tomato and Acini de Pepe Soup

Photo from

There are days when I just crave a big bowl of steaming, satisfying soup. I found this recipe in a Skinnytaste cookbook I bought after I received my Instant Pot. The meat and pasta make it hearty, and the half pound of parmesan cheese I put on top makes it’s kk-worthy.

Get the recipe here.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Image courtesy of Food Network.

I know it’s bad for you, but it’s SO SO SO good. Tyler Florence’s version of spaghetti carbonara is a lighter version, the “sauce” coming from the egg and the pasta water. It is velvety and creamy and perfect on a cold night with a glass of red wine. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I’ll make this recipe with bucatini.

Get the recipe here.

Sous Vide Ribeye

When I think of winter date night’s in, I immediately picture a juicy ribeye steak, onion rings and roasted broccolini and a full bodied cabernet. When it’s too cold to go outside and grill, I’ll prepare the steaks with the sous vide, and then sear them in a hot cast iron skillet with butter until there’s a crust. There is no recipe here. I simply vacuum seal the steaks in a bag with fresh herbs, salt and pepper and garlic, then sous vide them until the perfect medium rare. I then heat a cast iron pan until it’s screaming hot and I sear the steaks on each side for no more than a minute or two, and finish by basting with melted butter. OMG, heaven.

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich

I know fried chicken seems like a summertime dinner, enjoyed outside on a picnic table with a checkered tablecloth, but if you have the means to fry inside, fried chicken is one of those foods that just hits the spot and makes you feel good all over.

This recipe for fried chicken sandwiches is my girl crush Ina’s. And it was delicious. Don’t skimp on the pickles; I used homemade bread and butter quick pickles I made earlier in the day. Goes wonderfully with a hoppy IPA.

Get the recipe here.

Hopefully this provided some much-needed comfort food inspiration because honestly, vegetables aren’t cutting it right now.

cooking, Entertaining, food, NaBloPoMo, recipe

The Only Appetizer Recipe You’ll Need

Mr. KK and I have always been big fans of visiting Portland, Maine. Aside from the fact that it reminds us a bit of Boston with it’s cobblestone ankle-breaking sidewalks and amazing restaurants (can you say lobstah rolls?), but the beer scene is top notch.

Trips to Portland became a little harder when the Little Mister came along, and as much as we were raising a bar baby, it was getting hard to ignore the stink eye we’d get from the hipsters.

One summer we rented a beach house for the three of us in South Portland, a 10-minute drive over the bridge. We were just close enough to enjoy an afternoon in our favorite city, with the luxury of being walking distance to a great little beach. Our house was conveniently located next to a Scratch Baking Company, a bakery that had somewhat of a cult following. Every morning at 6am people would start lining up waiting for the bakery to open, just to get their hands on their famous bagels. With the line of people came chit chat, so every morning we were up at the crack of dawn listening to everyone in line.

Now, having a husband with a sweet tooth and a toddler who loved all things cake and cookie, being next to the bakery was a very convenient spot for us. I could literally roll out of bed, walk out the front door, and be in line in my pajamas. Not being much a bagel person myself, they had a coffee cake that was to die for.

My favorite item from this bakery, however, was not a baked good at all. Tucked into the cooler with the cream cheese were containers of homemade pimento cheese spread.

Now, if you’re from the south, you are well aware of how life-changing pimento cheese is. If you don’t know what pimento cheese spread is, well, I’m sorry. You’ve barely enjoyed life up until this point.

First off, it’s made with cheese. If you’re a cheese whore like I am, that should be enough of a selling point. Second, it’s cheese mixed with cream cheese. (I mean, COME ON.) But perhaps the best selling point, is that you can eat it on almost anything. Crackers? Sure. Pita chips? My favorite. As a grilled cheese. Woah. Spread on a chicken cutlet on a roll? Shut the front door.

The day I discovered the pimento cheese spread at Scratch Baking Company, my entire vacation changed. I bought a container every single day, and ate the entire thing throughout the day. I had dreams about this pimento cheese. We went back to South Portland a second summer and the first thing I did was go to this bakery and secure pimento cheese for the week.

But you don’t have to live in the south or visit South Portland in order to enjoy pimento cheese. In fact, I have made pimento cheese spread many times (is there anything better to enjoy at a Kentucky Derby Party?). However, I have discovered the best of the best pimento cheese recipe; the créme de le cream cheese, if you will.

And who other to give us this amazing recipe than my girl crush: Ina Garten.

In her latest cookbook Modern Comfort Food, Ina shares her take on this amazing appetizer. In fact, once you make this and serve it, you’ll never need another appetizer recipe again.

Ina’s Spicy Pimento Cheese Spread

Recipe and photos courtesy of Ina Garten.

Click here for the recipe and a video.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayonnaise 
1 1/2 tsp granulated onion (not onion powder)
2 large garlic gloves
1 teaspoon celery seed 
Kosher salt
3/4 cup pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped 
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (3 to 4 scallions)
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers, drained (4 ounces)
4 cups shredded sharp while cheddar (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon Sriracha

Crackers and/or crudités for serving


In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, onion, garlic, celery seed and 1/2 tsp salt with a wooden spoon. Add the pickled jalapenos, scallions and red peppers and grated Cheddar. Add the Sriracha and combine. Taste for seasonings and serve with crackers, corn chips or crudités. (Or with my favorite: pita chips).

I highly recommend you make a double batch: one batch for your guests, and the other to hide in the back of your fridge so you can shame it any time no one is looking.

You’re welcome.

cooking, NaBloPoMo, recipe

Recipe: quick & easy Midnight Pasta

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means the madness has begun. Weekends will be filled to the brim with activities and shopping, cookie baking and present wrapping. Which means time during the week after work is precious, and I need to make the most of it.

This is the time of year, when meal prep becomes ‘whatever’s easiest’. That may be thawing a container of beef stew (like we’re doing tonight) or making simple meals with foods you can find in your pantry (like last night).

Yesterday was a big push to blow all the leaves in the yard for Mr. KK (despite half the yard having snow on it) and starting the holiday shopping and entertaining Little Mister for me. Knowing I’d be doing a VERY LARGE grocery store trip early in the week for Thanksgiving, I needed to get creative with what I had in the house.

Enter: Midnight Pasta.

This pasta dish is easy to make with pantry staples, and originated as the dish Italians would make as a midnight snack.

midnight pasta ingredients
I know I said ‘pantry staples’ and no one has parsley in their pantries. For some reason, our parsley plant is hanging on outside, even after the first snow of the season. If you don’t have fresh parsley, you can use dried or skip altogether.

If you don’t like anchovies, you’re out of luck on this one. But I promise they create a deliciously salty pasta, you’d have no idea you were eating them.

Recipe for Midnight Pasta (aka: Pasta with Anchovies)

Delicious midnight pasta with anchovies.


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  •  Salt (for the cooking water)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small can of anchovies, mostly drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional
  •  Parmesan for grating, optional (for me: lots of parmesan)
  • 4 slices of bread, pulsed into bread crumbs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter


Put spaghetti in well-salted pan of boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente.

Melts 2 Tbsp butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and stir to coat. Toast breadcrumbs, stirring to keep them evenly browned. Sprinkle zest of lemon into breadcrumbs. Remove from heat when toasty.


While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, without letting it brown. Add the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. As they cook, they will start to melt. When anchovies are mostly melted, add capers and red pepper and cook for a half-minute more.

Reserve a 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet with the anchovy sauce. Toss spaghetti to coat it with the anchovy sauce. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to loosen up the sauce if necessary. Remove from heat.

Plate spaghetti and top with lemony breadcrumbs and parmesan.