Fancy Last Minute Gift Idea: Chocolate Almond Toffee with Finlandia Imported Butter

This post was made possible by sponsorship from Finlandia.

Here's the scenario:

It's a week before Christmas and time is going faster than you might like.  There are still more people on your Christmas list than there are days.  You've got 3 parties to go to and you have no idea what to bring.  

Cue the Finlandia Imported Butter and this SUPER easy chocolate almond toffee recipe that's so beautiful and delicious, you're going to make it even when you actually DO have free time, not just when you're trying to beat the Christmas rush.


All you need is:

  • 8 ozs Finlandia Imported Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 16 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like using mini chips)
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Add the Finlandia Imported Butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  While you are waiting, lightly grease a jelly roll pan.  I like to use the wrapper from the butter so there is no waste.  Also, toast the almonds slightly by placing them under a broiler for about 4 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they will toast very quickly!

Using a candy thermometer, remove the toffee from the heat once temp reaches 300-310° (Hard crack).  Pour in the vanilla and swirl it around until it's incorporated into the toffee.  Carefully pour the toffee into a the prepared jelly roll pan and let cool for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top and let sit for about a minute or until they all become shiny.  This means they are melted enough to spread.  Spread the melty chips evenly over the toffee.  Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top and lightly press down to secure them onto the chocolate.  Let the toffee cool on the counter until it is cool enough to put in the refrigerator safely. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour and then break bite size pieces off.  Store in a container or bag portions for gifts! 

Finlandia’s premium dairy products are made with pure milk from small family-owned farms in Finland. With over 110 years of passion and dedication to making the very best butter and cheese, Finlandia’s farmers have a maximum of 28 cows, with each called by name and treated like family. Each roams free, eats the greenest grass and breathes the pure Finnish air – known as one of the cleanest countries on Earth – resulting in the purest milk with nothing artificial and no added hormones. Finlandia’s craftsmen are relentless in the pursuit of taste perfection with no room for shortcuts or compromise. From the initial selection of the freshest milk to the final cutting of each cheese from the heart of the block, each step celebrates the time-honored tradition of European craftsmanship for which Finlandia is famous.


Porkroll or Taylor Ham? I'LL be the judge of that! Tuckerton Seaport's TRUCKerton Food Truck & Brew Fest is BACK!

This Saturday May 6 at the Tuckerton Seaport is this year's fantastically themed Porkroll vs Taylor Ham TRUCKerton Food Truck and Brew Fest!  

If you're from New Jersey, you either call it porkroll or you call it Taylor Ham.  There is no in between.  I have always called it Taylor Ham because I grew up in north Jersey.  You get a "Taylor Ham on a hard roll" for breakfast.  Now that I live in south Jersey, I hear "porkroll and cheese" constantly and I STILL can't get used to it even 16 years later.  

Regardless of what you call the meaty treat, it sure is good.  This year's food truck lineup promises several Taylor Ham/porkroll dishes to satisfy everyone's palate whether you're from north Jersey, south Jersey, Timbuktu or wherever.  There will also be great beers, live music, a pork roll eating contest and more!

Check out the list of vendors and what's going on throughout the day: 

Food Truck Map April 2017 v4 Page 2

Food Truck Map April 2017 v4 Page 1
I am very honored to have been asked back as a judge this year to determine which among the 11 food trucks has the best dish of the day.  This is going to be hard, because having already sampled most of these trucks' delights over the years I know the competition will be stiff.  But trust me, I'm up to the task.  In preparation, I'll be attending a Cinco de Mayo party the night before because what tastes better than some Taylor Ham after a night of margaritas? 

Hope to see you there!


What: TRUCKerton Food Truck and Brew Fest- Porkroll vs Taylor Ham

When: Saturday May 6, 2017, 11:00AM-6:00PM

Where: Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum, Rte 9, Tuckerton, NJ 08087 609-296-8868

Cost: $10 adults, Children under 5 FREE, Seaport members FREE - Save $1 on admission by bringing a food item for the Tuckerton Food Pantry


Top 10 reasons for going to the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport this weekend



This weekend's NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport has already stirred a great big buzz in our community with signs posted throughout town including a huge bacon shaped blow-up figure that made its appearance at the Fourth of July parade!  I am so excited because, well, BACON.  I know that should be enough of a reason to go, but here's a list of my top 10 reasons you should join me.  

Disclosure: I will be attending the NJ Bacon Fest with complimentary tickets in exchange for this post and social media sharing of the event.  I am very grateful for the generosity of sponsor Five Sisters Food Co for this opportunity as I truly think it's going to be a great time.  All opinions are my own, and I can tell you right now my opinion is that everyone should go to the NJ BaconFest! 


I'll do it in countdown form...

    10. It's going to be a beautiful day.  

Regardless of temperature, sun, rain, snow, sleet, whatever, it's going to be BEAUTIFUL because there will be bacon.  But honestly, the weather forecast is showing a gorgeous weekend.  Throw your chair and some sunscreen in the car and come on over! 

    9. Who doesn't love a festival?

There is something special about sitting down amongst a bunch of happy people enjoying each other's company.  The festival atmosphere always brings a smile to my face.  I just love all the hustle and bustle and the people watching and the relaxed feel of it all.  Being that this is a BACON festival being sponsored by my all time favorite Five Sisters Food Co., well, that just ups the festival game even more!

    8.  Shopping

Besides the beautiful Seaport gift shop, there will be several vendors selling bacon-y wares throughout the festival.  Try some spreadable bacon from The Bacon Jams or some Bacon Taco sauce from Hot Sauce for Good.  

    7. It's at the Tuckerton Seaport!

Even when there isn't a festival going on the Tuckerton Seaport is a great place to visit.  With numerous family friendly, educational, and fun exhibits including a craft station sponsored by Jersey Family Fun, stepping into the Tuckerton Seaport is like stepping into an interactive documentary of the area's heritage.  The sprawling dockside location is the perfect venue for the Bacon Fest.

    6. Food trucks

My absolute favorite food truck is run by the Miller family - Five Sisters Food Co.  I once had the Pig Fries from their truck and felt like it was the best thing I had ever eaten.  Then I sampled their Pork Belly Sandwich and had to take back my first statement and restate it.  They NEVER disappoint.  Five Sisters will be joined by several other trucks including:

 Philly Fry, WTF Foodtruck, Cheezen, Betty's Icebox, Waffle De Lys, The Chimney Cake Factory,House of Cupcakes, Kath's Catering, Pompier Catering & Cuisine, Mexi Flip, Surf and Turf, Bespoke Bacon, The Tot Cart, Bacon Broads, the guac spot, Oink and Moo BBQ, ahh! la cart, Dump n Roll, and Zinna's Bistro AND MORE!

For a full list of vendors, visit the Seaport's website. All will have some sort of bacon inspired treats for you to enjoy! 


I could just stop there and be done with this list because all these reasons are great ones to visit the NJ BaconFest.  But I will go on...

    5. Music, pig races, a circus, and a bacon eating contest...

Set up your chair near either the main bandstand or the Pirate Ship stage to enjoy your delicious bacon treats while allowing yourself to be entertained by the bands and the Justin Wood Circus. Take a walk across the grounds to watch the pig races.  And if you're there on Sunday at 2:00, be sure to see who will get reign supreme at the NJ Bacon Fest Bacon Eating Championship! Last year's winner ate 13.7 pounds in 2 minutes.  Now THAT's a lot of bacon.

    4. All your friends are going

For real.  They are.  Just look at Facebook.  You'll probably see at least one or two people talking about the festival there.  Jump off that fence and join them! 

    3. There's going to be a mechanical pig!  

OK, that's just awesome.  I've never ridden a mechanical bull let alone a mechanical pig.  Looks like the time is NOW.

    2. BEER and other libations

Any festival wouldn't be complete without some good drinks to go along with the good food.  Thankfully, Pinelands Brewery will be bringing some of their tasty brews that are going to make the perfect bacon meal complete.   There will also be wines from Laurita Winery, other craft beer selections, and a margarita bar to help quench your thirst for deliciousness.

    And the #1 reason to visit the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport this Saturday and Sunday July 9th (11-8) and 10th (11-6)...



The world may not revolve around bacon, but it sure would be a sad sad place without it.  Go get your bacon fix this weekend!  Tickets are $8 apiece.  Seaport members and children under 5 are FREE.  

For more information about the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport, the Five Sisters Food Co., or any of the vendors who will be in attendance, please visit or join the event page on Facebook.

You can also follow the festival on Twitter @NJBaconFest and Instagram @NJ_Bacon_Fest


All photos are shared from NJ Bacon Fest's website and/or Facebook page. 

Paleo peach blueberry crumble

I just finished breakfast and had to jump on the ol' laptop before I forget all the ingredients I just used.  I definitely do NOT want to forget this one because it was so flipping good.  Peaches...blueberries...crumbly stuff on top... I already want more.  

Peach crumble
Paleo Peach Blueberry Crumble

  •   Filling:
  • 2 ripe peaches roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp -1 tsp honey (depending on ripeness of peaches and your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkling of nutmeg
  •   Crumble:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp clarified butter or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp honey

Melt a little clarified butter or ghee in the bottom of a 1 quart casserole dish and spread it around.  Stir filling ingredients in a bowl and pour into prepared casserole dish. Add pecans and shredded coconut to your food processor or blender and whirl for a few seconds to get a finer chop.  Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and pulse until just blended, not too fine.  Sprinkle crumble ingredients over the prepared filling and bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes or you will be biting into molten lava.  Scoop it into a bowl and enjoy! 

Roasted Italian red pepper and garlic marinated chicken - CSA recipe for late summer

I love my CSA. You know that by now. I really can't say enough wonderful things about it.  If you have the ability to join one in your area, you really REALLY should.  And if you're in MY area, you should check out the farm I've been going to for the season: The Sea Salt CSA at B & B Farms.  The season is still going strong and I'm still amazed at the bounty I bring home every week.  

I love being given specific ingredients and using them to come up with meals my family will eat.  It makes it so much easier for me when I'm given fewer choices.  (Just ask my husband what it's like dining with me in a restaurant that has an extensive menu.)  Every week, I can plan my meals according to that week's crops which makes my brain happy.

The past few weeks, there has been a huge harvest of peppers of every size, shape, color, and level of spiciness.  My favorites have been the long gorgeous red Italian peppers that look like they should be in the movies.  They are delicious cooked into cacciatore or stuffed with meats and vegetables or even eaten raw.  

This week, I roasted a bunch of those beautiful red peppers to store for the winter.  **If you've never roasted a pepper, it's seriously so easy.  Just put as many as you would like in a single layer  on a broiler pan close to the flame in the broiler until the skin turns black and blistery.  Be sure you turn the peppers to get all sides.  It takes about 15 minutes total.  Then take them out and drop them into a paper bag and close it for about 10 minutes.  Using the back of a knife, scrape off the black skin and cut the peppers in half.  Scrape out the ribs and seeds and you're all done. You can store them in the fridge packed in olive oil for a few weeks, but for longer storage just lay them between wax paper in a sealed container in the freezer.**

I saved one roasted pepper to use for dinner tonight.  I had taken out chicken drumsticks and thought I'd try to marinate them with some sort of roasted pepper/garlic/herb marinade.  This is what I came up with:  IMG_7040

Roasted Italian Red Pepper and Garlic Marinated Chicken

  • 1 roasted red pepper (or about 1/3 cup if you have chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt to taste
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Blend all the above ingredients (except the drumsticks, of course) in your food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour over chicken drumsticks and let marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge turning every couple hours to make sure everything is coated.

Grill chicken on medium grill (450° surface temp) turning frequently until internal temp is 185° (about 30 minutes).  And let me know what you think!




Mini Eggplant Rollatini Bites: CSA recipe for mid summer

If you are into buying produce that is in season or if you're part of a local CSA you probably notice that now is the time for eggplant in the northeastern states.  I love eggplant so much and would eat it every day if I could.  Luckily, right now I can.  So I do.  A lot.

This year, I got a few of those skinny Chinese eggplants in my share, and didn't know what to do with them.  I looked up some recipes but none of them were exactly what I wanted.  But then my husband said, "Why don't you fry them up like you would regular eggplant and use them as dippers?"  That sounded absolutely perfect.  But of course, I had to take it a step further and make them even prettier.  So I came up with these little Eggplant Rollatini bites that I think would be absolutely perfect for your next get together with friends!   Mini eggplant

Eggplant Rollatini Bites

  • 6 skinny Chinese eggplants cut into thin rounds (about 1/4 inch)
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs- beaten
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs places in a large sealable plastic bag
  • 1 quart frying oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2- 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce
  • 10 basil leaves

Prepare your eggplant by salting the rounds generously and letting them sit for about 1/2 hour until the moisture is pulled to the top.  Rinse off the salt and pat the eggplant dry between paper towels giving them a good squeeze to get as much liquid out as possible.  Heat your oil in a deep pan to about 375­°.

Toss the rounds in the flour shaking off any excess. Dip into beaten eggs shaking off excess.  Then add the coated rounds to the bag of bread crumbs and shake them until coated.

Fry the rounds in batches in the oil until golden about 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.  Layer one round with a dollop of ricotta, another round, a drizzle of marinara, and a small basil leaf.  If your basil leaves are large, just cut them into slivers to use on each bite.

 I actually served these as a meal last night with some pasta and the leftover marinara sauce.  In fact, I think I might go have the leftovers for lunch right now... 

Super overstuffed peppers : CSA recipe of the week

I love naturally colorful food.  I try to incorporate as many different colors into each meal as possible.  I feel like every color is a different nutrient.  I don't know if that's accurate, but as far as I'm concerned it's enough to make me feel good.  The other night I made some super stuffed peppers using all the colorful veg I got from my CSA share.  In fact, they were so stuffed they overflowed.  So I'm calling them: Overstuffed peppers

Super Overstuffed Peppers


    • 1 large pot of boiling water
    • 4 green bell peppers- keep 3 whole and mince half of the 4th)
    • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
    • 1/2 cup cooked rice
    • 1 clove garlic- minced
    • 1 small carrot- minced
    • 1 zucchini - minced
    • 1 small yellow squash- minced
    • 1/2 cup corn kernels
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup prepared salsa 


Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the 3 whole green peppers into the pot of boiling water to blanch them for about 4 minutes.  Remove them and let them cool slightly then cut them in half lengthwise removing the seeds and stems.  Place the halves cut side up in a deep baking dish.  In a large pan, Brown the meat along with the minced garlic.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the salsa) to the pan and mix together.  Spoon the mixture into the pepper halves and top each with a bit of the salsa.  Bake for about 30 minutes and enjoy.

Sorry the picture isn't all that great, but we were hungry.  I wasn't waiting around to get any better shots!  Hope you like it.

Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake with Lemon Glaze AKA: this week's CSA recipe

The last few days I have seen a picture floating around the interwebs of a gorgeous layer cake containing blueberries, zucchini, and butter cream frosting.  I found the recipe on  I wanted to try it, but when I went into the fridge I noticed that I had to move all the yellow squash and carrots out of the way to get to the zucchini and blueberries.  Instead of putting those extra veggies back in the fridge, I decided that incorporating them into my own version of a similar cake might not be a bad idea.  I loved the idea of all those natural colors mingling around together.  

I had the thought that all those veggies might make the cake a bit dense, so I figured instead of a layer cake, I'd make a bundt cake.  

And guess what?  I didn't have any butter to make buttercream frosting.  I know, I know.  You're SHOCKED to find out that I was out of an ingredient.  But I thought the frosting might be a little heavy anyway, so I opted to make a glaze instead.  

Well, ever since yesterday when I made my cake, I haven't eaten anything BUT that cake.  It's so soft and delicious I really don't want to share.  But I will share the recipe.  Here ya go. Confetti cake

Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake

with Lemon Glaze

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 small zucchinis, 2 small yellow squashes, 1 carrot- grated or finely processed in your food processor.  Drain as much liquid out as possible.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries

Lemon glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a bundt pan.  Lightly beat the eggs.  Add the oil, vanilla, and sugar.  Once mixed, stir in the drained zucchini, squash, and carrots.  In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder).  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Once fully incorporated, fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the bundt pan and let it bake in the 350° oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully flip it onto a plate.  Let it cool for about 1/2 hour.  Make your glaze by mixing the confectioner's sugar with the lemon juice and drizzle it over the top of the cake.  Voila! Delicious.  Confetti cake 1

Now, I don't like "sneaking" vegetables in anything.  I normally like to be straightforward about the ingredients I'm using in anything I make.  But I know that it might be easier to get a picky eater to eat cake laced with vegetables if they don't know they are there.  If you want to try this cake with your kids, I suggest maybe peeling a bit of the squash skin off and grinding the veg up as small as possible and to lessen the veggie taste a bit.  Because while it is a very slight taste, you can taste the vegetables a bit.  I personally love that flavor, and hope you will give it a try! IMG_6630

Super Simple Roasted Root Vegetables - CSA recipe for early summer

Seriously.  This is so easy and sooooo good.  I don't know what else to say.  Just try it.

Roasted root veg

Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 3 small beets
  • 1 large potato
  • 5 small carrots
  • 5 small turnips
  • 2 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage- leaves separated
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt

 Preheat the oven to 400°.  Cut all vegetables except the garlic into pieces that are about the same size.  Place into a roasting pan along with the unpeeled garlic, rosemary, and sage.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Toss to coat.  Roast for 45 minutes stirring the veg occasionally.



Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera - A CSA recipe for late spring/early summer

Have you ever woken up with a certain taste craving in the morning and then thought about it all day hoping that you have the ability to pull it off in a dinner recipe that night?  Me too.  And I am happy to say I think I pulled it off with this one.  

When I picked up my last CSA share, it consisted of more garlic scapes (not snakes, as my kids like to call them), radishes, turnips, lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, arugula, Chinese cabbage, herbs, flowers, and more peas.  I brought my mother-in-law with me this time to pick blueberries, too, which she promptly turned into the best blueberry pie in the world.

But that craving I had was for something garlicky, something vegetable-y, and it included pasta.  So I looked up how to make garlic scape pesto and found the perfect recipe from the Creekside Cook (although I used walnuts instead of pine nuts simply because that's what I had on hand) which I used to make this primavera pasta dish.  

It turned out absolutely PERFECT, in my opinion.  Hope you like it.

Garlic scape pesto

 Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti uncooked
  • 1/4 cup onion sliced thin
  • 1 each small zucchini, small yellow squash, large carrot all julienned
  • 1/2 cup fresh shucked peas (save the husks for a stir fry or other recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Scape Pesto (or regular pesto)
  • splash of whole milk
  • salt & pepper

Place butter and oil in a large deep pan and turn on medium.  Break spaghetti noodles in half and add them to the pan tossing to coat with butter and oil.  Let them get slightly toasted and then add all the vegetables.  Saute over medium high heat until the vegetables are softened.  Add ladles full of chicken broth, sitrring constantly like you would with risotto, allowing the noodles to absorb the liquid between each addition.  Stop adding liquid when the noodles are al dente. Remove from heat and stir in the pesto and a splash of milk and add salt & pepper to taste.

I served this to my kids with some crusty bread and they both said it was their favorite meal yet!  Score!