Full Belly Sisters: October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Easy Thanksgiving Antipasto Platter

*This post is sponsored by Stop & Shop but the content and opinions expressed here are my own*

Start your holidays off right with a beautiful, delicious, and easy Thanksgiving Antipasto Platter. Plus, simple tips to keep it budget-friendly!

This might sound weird coming from a food blogger but: I've never hosted Thanksgiving dinner. For decades now, my family has celebrated the holiday with our beloved friends at their home. We were doing Friendsgiving before it was a thing! So, I don't have awesome tips on roasting the perfect turkey...but I do know how to be a fantastic guest.

For one thing, if someone is hosting you for the holiday, you'd better believe they are doing a ton of food prep and cooking. Share your host's burden by bringing part of the Thanksgiving meal—it will surely be appreciated. 

I love to offer my hosts an Easy Antipasto Platter for the holiday celebration. First things first: gotta do some shopping for fabulous ingredients. The great thing is that I can get everything I need all at my local Stop and Shop! Freshly-baked breads, delicious cheeses and meats, as well as delectable olives, crackers, pickled veggies, and seasonal produce are all here. Talk about one-stop shopping.

So many fresh mozzarella options!
I want to dive into the olive bar.

Gotta love an in-house bakery for fresh breads.

Any time we can get together to celebrate family, food, and tradition it's always a time of celebration and thanksgiving. So, while raw veggies and dip make the rounds at most people's holiday parties, I like to bring some of my Italian heritage to the table with my antipasti. It might not be the traditional Thanksgiving but it is our tradition.

There are no hard and fast rules for putting together a platter of antipasti. But variety is important! Not only is a diverse platter prettier, but different textures and flavors will keep your tastebuds tantalized. Aim for a variety of cheeses, fruits and/or veggies, bread and crackers, nuts, and meats. Go for different shapes, colors, heights—keep it interesting! Oh, and use the biggest platter you've got, so you can fit a ton of delicious snacks on top; I used the bottom of a large carving board for this Easy Thanksgiving Antipasto Platter. 

When planning your antipasto, keep your budget in mind: use smaller amounts of the most expensive items and fill the platter with the more budget-friendly foods. No one will notice that you've got more cheddar than brie!

Cheeses: my platter has a triple creme brie, fresh mozzarella, and Cabot sharp cheddar. I left the triangle of brie whole for guests to cut into; I sliced the cheddar into rectangles and piled them in the center; I cut the mozzarella into ovals and fanned them out. See how they all add a different shape and dimension to the platter?

*Budget tip: don't just look for cheeses in the gourmet or deli section. You can find some great ones in the regular dairy area. I got this Seriously Sharp Cabot Cheddar (one of my faves!) on sale at Stop and Shop. I love a grocery bargain!

Bread and crackers: slice up some fresh baguette, stack up seeded flatbread crackers, and then put some tall crispy breadsticks in a little glass. Lots of yumminess, with a variety of textures and flavors.

Fruits and Nuts: dried fruits—I used apricots and cranberries for this platter—add wonderful color and sweetness and are great this time of year, when fresh fruit isn't as plentiful; salty pistachios and sweet glazed pecans are a fantastic, crunchy counterpart to the chewy fruit. I also like to add a small bowl of another sweet element, like honey or fig jam, which are lovely with the cheeses.

*Budget tip: less expensive dried fruit and nuts—think raisins and peanuts—would work, too. Or use whatever you've already got in your pantry!

Vegetables: use all different types of veggies—fresh, jarred, marinated. I've got some raw sliced radishes (a great cracker alternative for low-carb people); beautiful fresh asparagus that I blanched, chilled, then tossed with a red wine vinaigrette; olives processed into a simple tapenade; small pickles; and marinated artichoke hearts that I drained well. Use small bowls on the Easy Thanksgiving Antipasto Platter for wetter items, like the tapenade and the artichoke hearts.

*Budget tip: visit your Stop and Shop antipasto bar and get just the amount of olives or other items you need for the platter. Or head over to the jarred veggie aisle and load up on small jars of pickled and marinated items (roasted peppers, pepperoncini, and giardiniera are all wonderful additions).

Meats: I've used salami for this platter, but pepperoni and prosciutto are also fabulous choices.

*Budget tip: visit Stop and Shop's deli and ask the butcher to slice your meat as thinly as possible. Not only are the thin slices easier for guests to eat, you can fan them out and pile them up so that it looks like you've got a lot!

So, head on over to Stop and Shop now for all your holiday dishes—new online customers can get $5 off now!

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Brown Butter Cinnamon Churro Rice Krispie Treats

It's football season, so it's time for #TailgatingSnacks! My Brown Butter Cinnamon Churro Rice Krispie Treats are an easy, delicious, grown-up version of the classic sweet treat.

I'm not a huge fan of football (although my husband and son LOVE it and our Sundays revolve around it) but I am a huge fan of #tailgatingsnacks! To me, they're all about delicious comfort food that's also easy to eat with your hands. One thing that I often find missing from football parties is the dessert! I'm actually more of a savory person but I do like to have a little something sweet—especially after a whole day of saucy, cheesy, savory yumminess.

That's where my Brown Butter Cinnamon Churro Rice Krispie Treats come in. They are incredibly easy to make but—with just a couple of extra steps—they go from a classic comfort food treat to a more grown-up tailgating snack! The browned butter adds a real richness and depth to this otherwise simple dessert.

Of course, these
aren't just for adults and they don't have to be just for tailgating. My son and his buddies adore them! They're the ones who dubbed them Churro Rice Krispie Treats—because anything with cinnamon and sugar must be a churro! These would also be perfect for an easy, nut-free Thanksgiving dessert or a holiday cookie exchange.

makes 16 squares
  • 1/2 cup butter (8 Tablespoons), plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • pinch or two of salt  
  • 1 package (10-1/2 oz) mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies

Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

butter in large saucepan on medium-low heat. Let it melt, then get foamy. It will then turn a clear golden color and then, finally, the butter will start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir it often throughout this process and watch it closely, so it doesn't burn.

Once the butter is evenly browned, turn down the heat to low and add the cinnamon and salt until fully combined. Stir in the marshmallows; cook, stirring often, until the marshmallows are fully melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cereal (I find a silicone spoon works well for this). Scrape into the greased pan and press down—greased hands make this easier. Let cool completely, then cut into 16 squares.

Looking for more Tailgating Snacks? I'm just one of a bunch of bloggers—led by the wonderful Debi of Life Currentsthat is sharing our favorites. Make sure you check out all the deliciousness, just follow the links to their recipes below!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Italian Stuffed Pepper Cauliflower Rice Skillet

My Italian Stuffed Pepper Cauliflower Rice Skillet is a grain-free, low-carb version of a traditional dish. It’s packed with healthy ingredients and delicious flavors—plus it's an easy one-pot meal, making it perfect for weeknight dinners.

I've been on the cauliflower rice bandwagon for a while now. Not only is it healthy and tasty, it cooks quickly so it's perfect for fast weeknight dinners, like my Italian Stuffed Pepper Cauliflower Rice Skillet. I always have cauliflower rice on hand, especially now that prepared fresh and frozen versions are so readily available at many stores. (Trader Joe's frozen cauliflower rice is always in my freezer. Always.)

Another ingredient that comes in handy often? A good ol' jar of marinara sauce. It's great for pasta, obviously, but also for soups or stews or meatloaf. So, when my latest Degustabox included a jar of Barilla Marinara Sauce, I knew it would be perfect for this easy, hearty, low-carb meal.

serves 4 to 6
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower, riced (or 3 to 4 cups prepared cauliflower rice)
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 to 2 red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • chopped parsley, for garnish
  • salt and pepper

Put the oil and chopped onion in a large, oven-safe skillet on the stove over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery, carrot, garlic, and peppers. Cook for a few minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well and letting them just begin to soften.

Add the cauliflower rice and the ground beef to the skillet, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add the marinara and the lightly crushed fennel seeds (this gives the dish a nice sausage-y flavor); stir the sauce into the meat and vegetable mixture to fully combine. Simmer the dish until all the vegetables are al dente—tender but not mushy. Stir in grated cheese and top with sliced mozzarella cheese.

Put the whole skillet under the broiler in your oven for a few minutes, until the mozzarella begins to brown and bubble. Remove from the oven and top with chopped, fresh parsley.

That's it! Less then 30 minutes and your one-pot dinner is ready. Absolutely packed with veggies, this hearty Italian Stuffed Pepper Cauliflower Rice Skillet will be a hit with the whole family.

If you're interested in trying Degustabox, a surprise food subscription box service, check out their website or follow them on Instagram. If you sign up to receive your own Degustabox through one of our links in this post, I'll receive a referral fee and you'll help to support this blog!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

This decadent Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake will wow any chocolate lover. Rich and gooey, it's perfect for people on gluten-free diets because it is made with ground almonds instead of flour.

Thank you to Imperial Sugar for providing the product used in this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Woo-hoo, it's #Choctoberfest! This virtual event features bloggers from around the world, posting their favorite chocolate recipes—like my delicious Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

My son, who loves everything chocolate, had been asking me to make a "brownie cake." We looked at a bunch of pictures on Pinterest (my eight-year-old was totally digging it!) and decided to make a version of a Torta Caprese—an Italian dessert made with almond flour and packed with luscious chocolate. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to use my Imperial Sugar!

adapted slightly from Pastry Affair

serves 8-10
  • 1/2 cup butter (8 Tablespoons)
  • 9 ounces chocolate (I used a combination of semi-sweet and milk chocolates)
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" springform pan and set aside.

In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature, then whisk in the egg yolks, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt.

In the meantime, place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add the sugar gradually, and keep beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes (and this is where I wish I had a stand mixer instead of a handheld one!). Gently fold in the almond flour and baking powder. Then carefully fold in the chocolate mixture.

Scoop the batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake for 27-33 minutes, until the middle of the cake wiggles just very slightly.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Before removing from the springform, run a knife around the edges. Then dust with some powdered sugar and it is just gorgeous!

When you cut the Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake, the delicious crispy top kind of shatters (like the top of a creme brulee) and it's pretty glorious.

The inside is super fudgy and moist. It's a delicate cake but also super rich. Oh, and it was a HUGE hit with my son. Such a hit, in fact, that I made it twice in one week!

I hope you love it as much as we did!

For more of my #Choctoberfest recipes, check out:

Cannoli Crostini with Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Truffles
Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Smoothie
Frankenstein Crispy Rice Treats

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats

My Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats are simple to make, delicious, and gluten-free. Make this #Choctoberfest treat for breakfast, dessert, or a holiday cookie platter!

Thank you to Barlean’s for providing the product used in this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Woo-hoo, it's #Choctoberfest! This virtual event features bloggers from around the world, posting their favorite chocolate recipes—like these Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats—and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. Head over and enter now!

This delicious event has some amazing sponsors, including Barlean's, which sent me a container of Organic Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil. I love using coconut oil for everything from stir-fries to baking, so I was psyched! My first instinct for this butter-flavored version was to use it for popcorn; I knew it would also be great in my super easy Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats.

These sweet treats are essentially a granola bar: they've got fiber, protein, calcium, and healthy fats. And they're naturally gluten-free, made with oats and rice cereal (make sure to look for specially-marked gluten-free oats if it's a concern). In my house we look at these Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats as more of a dessert—a cookie that just happens to pack some good nutrition into it.

Whether you have these for breakfast, for dessert, or for a holiday cookie exchange, you'll surely enjoy this chewy, chocolatey treat!

yield: 16 squares

  • 1 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 3/4 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips*
  • pinch or two of coarse salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk 
  • melted chocolate for drizzle garnish (optional)*
*Semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate—or any combination—all work well.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving extra parchment hanging over the sides.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oats and crispy rice cereal. Top with the chocolate chips and the salt.


In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, add the coconut oil, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk. Heat until the ingredients are warm, liquidy, and easily mix together. (I find about 45 seconds works well in my microwave.) Pour the warm mixture over the dry ingredients, letting the heat melt the chocolate chips. Use a spatula to get every last drop of the liquid mixture. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, until the ingredients are fully coated and sticky.

Pour into the prepared pan.
Use wax paper or oiled hands to press the mixture evenly and firmly into the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes; 23 minutes seems to be the magic number for me. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, press it down again using the bottom of an oiled measuring cup or spatula.

Let them cool completely in the pan. Once they're cooled, lift them by pulling up the edges of the overhanging parchment paper. Cut them into 16 squares (or 32 triangles), using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

If desired, use melted chocolate to drizzle or dip the treats. It really pretties them up—perfect for a holiday cookie exchange!  

Store the Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar Treats at room temperature in an airtight container; use wax paper between the layers.

Check out some more of my #Choctoberfest recipes, from this year and last:

Cannoli Crostini with Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey


Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Truffles

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cannoli Crostini w. Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey

These rustic yet elegant Cannoli Crostini with Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey are perfect for dessert or an easy brunch dish. Creamy ricotta, crunchy nuts and dark chocolate, and sweet honey are a delicious combination for #Choctoberfest!

Thank you to Nature Nate’s for providing the product used in this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Woo-hoo, it's #Choctoberfest! This virtual event features bloggers from around the world, posting their favorite chocolate recipes—like these Cannoli Crostini with Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey—and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. Head over and enter now!

#Choctoberfest has some amazing sponsors, including Nature Nate's 100% Pure, Raw and Unfiltered Honey. I was lucky enough to receive a wonderful goody box that included a huge squeeze bottle of honey (made by American Bees!), Raspberry Honey Syrup, and a bunch of handy Honey Packets—perfect when I'm on the go.

I also got a fantastic "Honey Gives Hope" t-shirt, celebrating Nature Nate's initiative to support breast cancer awareness. This speaks directly to me. Both of my parents are two-time cancer survivors. Supporting cancer awareness, treatment, and research is of the utmost importance to me. Over the past four years I have worked with a team to raise over $125,000 for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center here in New York. I truly appreciate that Nature Nate's takes on such crucial work.

And I also truly appreciate that Nature Nate's provides such delicious honey. It certainly adds a wow factor to my
Cannoli Crostini with Chocolate, Pistachios & Honey. These simple, sweet toasts are wonderful for dessert, but would also be fantastic for a brunch! They take just a few minutes to put together but look like a whole lot more work went into them.

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate, shaved
  • 6-8 slices of Tuscan/peasant-style bread, each cut in half and toasted
  • additional honey, for drizzling

Put the ricotta, sugar, honey, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt into a food processor. Process for about three minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Spread a dollop of the cannoli cream onto each toasted slice of bread. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios and shaved chocolate on top. Finish with a generous drizzle of honey over each toast. 

Some other recipes to check out:

Cannoli Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

And stay tuned for more delicious chocolate recipes for #Choctoberfest!

Monday, October 10, 2016

#Choctoberfest + GIVEAWAY

Today is one of my favorite days of the year... because it is the first day of #Choctoberfest 2016! #Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What’s not to love?

Thank you to the sponsors who make #Choctoberfest possible!
This year, Imperial Sugar is back as our Gold Sponsor. They have been a trusted name in kitchens since 1843, and their website is home to thousands of sweet recipes tested in the Imperial Sugar Kitchen. You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, or join their Sweet Community so you can share your own recipes, save recipes to a virtual inbox, print Imperial Sugar coupons, and connect with other sugar lovers. Imperial Sugar and our silver sponsors have banded together to offer a huge #Choctoberfest prize pack, which you can enter to win below! One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive the following:

  • From our Gold Sponsor Imperial Sugar: 1 case of granulated sugar (40 pounds), 1 case of brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of dark brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of powdered sugar (24 pounds bags), and an Imperial Sugar red ruffle apron
  • From our Silver Sponsor Nature Nate's: 32 oz. Raw & Unfiltered Honey bottle, Honey Syrup, Honey Packets, a Nature Nate’s T-shirt, various kitchen supplies, and $50 Amazon gift card
  • From our Silver Sponsor Barlean's:16 oz Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil, 9.52 oz canister of Chocolate Silk Greens, and 8oz bottle of Essential Women Omega-Swirl Chocolate Mint

  • From our Silver Sponsor Caveman Coffee: 1 Bag of Coffee (you choice of blacklisted or sabertooth), 1 coconut MCT oil, and 1 Cacao Butter
  • From #Choctoberfest blog hosts The PinterTest Kitchen: 1 specialty chocolate gift pack (your choice of dark or milk chocolate), 1 tin (14 ounces) drinking chocolate, and Divine's Fair Trade Gift Set

  • Enter now to win our #Choctoberfest 2016 prize pack! We'll be picking a winner at random on Saturday, Oct. 22, so enter by next Friday to make sure your name is in the drawing: a Rafflecopter giveaway 

    I'll be posting some delicious new recipes for Choctoberfest but, in the meantime, check out just a few of my past favorites:

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Truffles

    Cannoli Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

    Frankenstein Crispy Treats

    Here's a list of all of the bloggers participating in #Choctoberfest 2016. Visit any of their blogs to get delicious chocolate recipes throughout the week: The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Kitchen Hoor's Adventuresaddicted 2 recipesAmy’s Cooking AdventuresAn Affair From The HeartBalancing MotherhoodBody RebootedBottom Left of the MittenBy the PoundsCanning and Cooking at HomeCoconut & LimeCook with 5 KidsCook's HideoutCookaholic WifeCooking with CarleeCopyKat RecipesCricket's ConfectionsCrumbs in my MustachioElisabeth JeanFairyburgerFaith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceFamily Around the TableFantastical Sharing of RecipesFeed Your Soul TooFeeding BigFrankly EntertainingFull Belly SistersGet the Good StuffGrumpy’s HoneybunchHezzi-D's Books and CooksHostess At HeartInk and SugarJane’s Adventures in DinnerJoin Us, Pull Up a ChairKaren's Kitchen AdventuresKate's Recipe BoxKudos Kitchen by ReneeKylee CooksLetz EatLife CurrentsLife on Food Making MiraclesMonica's TableMoore or Less Cooking Food BlogMy Catholic KitchenMy Gluten Free MiamiOur Good LifePalatable PastimeRestless ChipotleSeduction in The KitchenSew You Think You Can CookSimple Food 365Southern With A TwistSumptuous SpoonfulsTake Two TapasTampa Cake GirlTeaspoon of GoodnessThat RecipeThe Crumby CupcakeThe FlavouristaThe Food Hunter's Guide To CuisineThe Freshman CookThe Pajama ChefThe Redhead BakerThe Spiffy CookieTramplingroseWildflour's Cottage KitchenZesty South Indian Kitchen 

    I'm looking forward to seeing all of the yummy recipes posted on these blogs. Check them out throughout the week and don't forget to follow our sponsors and bloggers using the Rafflecopter giveaway widget above for your chance to win our sweet prize pack. Are you a fellow food blogger who wants to get involved with events like #Choctoberfest? Sign up here to get notifications when they happen from The PinterTest Kitchen.
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