Broiled Tilapia Parmegiana

I loved this recipe so much that I actually made it two days in a row! It’s very easy and has a great flavor.

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It might seem a bit complicated, but I had it memorized after making it only once.  You might want to just gather up your spices in a row–once you get to the dried basil measuring will be easy.

The recipe is slightly modified from this one at Allrecipes.com

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven’s broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder, celery salt, paprika, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook the fish.

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I ate mine with French-cut green beans seasoned with garlic and parmesan.

Make Your Box-Mix Better!

Okay, I know I am really early for Valentine’s Day, but I loved these liners and sprinkles and was really craving cupcakes last night. Plus, I have so many liners that I can make different cupcakes (I’m thinking red velvet) closer to the holiday.

My parents gave me the great book Hello, Cupcake for Christmas (buy it on Amazon here), and since I had a box of yellow cake mix sitting around I decided to their recipe for “Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes.” I always speak badly of boxed mixes, but this recipe really made them better.

Box-Mix Cupcakes
1 box (18.25 oz) cake mix (vanilla, devil’s food, or yellow)
1 cup buttermilk (in place of water called for on the box)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

Follow the box instructions, putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and using the buttermilk in place of the water specified on the box, using the amount of vegetable oil that is called for, and adding the eggs. Beet with an electric mixer until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer

Fill paper liners two-thirds full. Bake 12 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

I used a canned Pillsbury icing. I couldn’t resist the pink colors and the sprinkles that came with it!


I made mini-cucpakes as well!


With only a few changes you can fool everyone into thinking you did all the work yourself!

Perfect Fluffy Pancakes

Pancakes! Who doesn’t love pancakes? They are definitely a comfort food for me, but I usually find myself a bit tired of them after a few bites. But not these pancakes!

I have eaten these pancakes almost exclusively this week–I really can’t get enough of them. I always drizzle them in boysenberry syrup. I did eat a real meal yesterday to appease my husband, but now I’m back to eating pancakes! These are delicious and fluffy and really the perfect pancake.

The recipe is altered slightly from this one at Allrecipes.com

Makes 2-3 servings
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, vanilla, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

What is your favorite syrup? I only like maple if I have bacon on the side–the rest of the time I’m exclusive to boysenberry.

Pancakes and cats don’t go together, but I think I have decided to name my cat Leonardo da Vinci. What do you think? My family met him last week and decided it was perfect because he is so smart! I have had him for two years and have never named him, poor thing!

My husband and I are both obsessed with Leonardo da Vinci (the human), so it seems fitting!

Roman Holiday

Wow, it’s been a while! The holidays have been busy for me–my family visited! My dad had been to Sicily, but no one else had been to Italy, so I had a good time showing them around. We went to Venice, Rome, Vatican City, and Milan. I’d visited all these places multiple times before, but I had fun showing them around and taking photos.


This is my sister, Victoria. She’s 16.


My parents have been married for 36 years now! They were married when they were 18, and they’re definitely a huge inspiration to me.

Milan Duomo, one of my favorite places in the world! I’ve seen this three times now and it’s so huge and beautiful.


Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio


My parents and sister


View of Vatican City from the Vatican Museum


The Sistine Chapel. These photos are against the rules, but I didn’t use flash, so no harm was done!


St. Peter’s Basilica


My sister in front of Palentine Hill. Isn’t that hat cute? She got it at an Italian store here called Oviesse.


My mom and sister throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring their return to Rome.


The Colosseum by night. Though I’ve seen it four times now, I am still always amazed by the Colosseum! It was so beautiful light up at night.


The Arch of Constantine, just beside the Colosseum.


The next morning we went to the Colosseum and saw it by daylight!


Me inside the Colosseum


My dad taking a photo of the Colossum


With our matching scarves on their last day here. Can you tell I was falling sick? I’m still recovering


My sister at my favorite gelateria

My grandmother also visited, but she didn’t want to be in many photos! I also have two older brothers who didn’t visit.

I hope you are all having a good new year so far!

Chocolate Toffee Cookies Made with Heath Bars

I’ve been wanting to make these cookies for weeks. I love Heath bars, and it was a difficult argument at the grocery store when I pleaded to my husband, “REALLY! I really do need these for a recipe!” Of course when I came home I ate three candy bars, but I did leave enough for the recipe!

Mine looked quite different than the ones over at Smitten Kitchen–recipe here.

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Chocolate Toffee Cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped I probably reduced this by 20% because I was measuring by eye and am very bad at it!
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto sheets, spacing two inches apart. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you’re using it. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

These were much different than I expected but very good! They didn’t taste as much like Heath bars as I was hoping, so next time I will probably increase the ingredients to six bars. They were delicious and they all disappeared within hours! They were very brownie-like and full of chocolate.

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