Positively Perfect Progressive Dinner Party–Roasted Tomato Caprice in Garlic Bread Bowls

dinner party

As the Fabulous Food Fairy, two of my favorite words are…DINNER PARTY!! I love the idea of gathering with friends, for adult time, where I actually get to do my make-up, dress in a fun outfit, sip “mommy drinks” and have intellectual conversation without coaxing a few more bites, or imploring my dinner companions to sit down, don’t talk with your mouth full, and KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!!

However, this dinner party is different. It is entirely virtual, so forget the hair and make-up, stay in your yoga pants (or as I call them “buffet pants”) and come to our table to “feast” your eyes on these spectacular recipes for every course, plus tips for pulling it all together!

Here are the rules:

Use the links below, to click “door to door”, visiting various blogs, and experience all that these fabulous women have to offer. If you find something really great, send it to your friends, pin it to your boards, or share it on your Facebook page. Because unlike an actual dinner party, the more the merrier, there’s plenty to go around.

To get the full Progressively Perfect Virtual Dinner Party blog hop experience, click the links below in order:





Coffee, Tea & Dessert

Late Night

Decorations, Outfits and Music

Hope you have as much fun reading through the party as we did planning it!

Roasted Tomato Caprice in Garlic Bread Bowls

Have you ever had an idea that you knew, from the moment it popped into your head, that it was brilliance? That is this recipe for me. I was charged with the task of creating an original appetizer recipe and this little goodie came seemingly out of nowhere!

I LOVE roasted tomatoes.

I LOVE basil.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE balsamic vinegar.



In one stroke of creative genus, all of my loves came together into one amazing appetizer that just may cause you to skip dinner.

Wanna peek?

Here it is…


So, wanna know how to make it?

Ok. Here goes.


Roasted tomatoes (click here for the recipe)

4 large dinner rolls

3 Tbsp. of melted butter

1 tsp. of garlic season all

1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese– I used the small beads of mozzarella

3/4 cup of basil leaves

2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar

4 tsp. of parmesan cheese

Balsamic glaze


1. Prepare roasted tomatoes according to the recipe. (this can be done up to a day ahead)


2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


3. Use a knife to cut a circular divot out of the center of each roll, leaving the bottom intact, creating a mini bread bowl.



4. Mix the melted butter and garlic seasoning and brush each bread bowl inside and out with the mixture.




5. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and bake until crispy with slightly brown edges.


6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

7. Meanwhile, toss the roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar.



8. Once the bread bowls cool a bit (you want them a little bit warm, but not warm enough to melt the cheese) place each one on a small plate.

9. Spoon the caprice salad neatly into each bowl.


10. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and drizzle with the balsamic glaze in a side to side sweeping motion.

Serve immediately!



I take no responsibility if your dinner guests scarf down this appetizer, ask for seconds, and don’t have room for the main course 🙂 At least, that’s what happened at my house when I made them for the first time 🙂


Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Yoga Pants

1-IMG_2668I don’t really love tomatoes raw, but once roasted, I could eat them until I burst. Seriously, I need to wear my yoga pants (aka “buffet pants”) when indulging in any roasted tomatoey goodness. I even went as far as to plant a bazillion cherry tomato plants in various parts of my backyard to satisfy my need for these yummy little savory treasures.

My passion err..obsession for roasted tomatoes started with a recipe that I saw for French bread pizzas. The recipe called for roasted cherry tomato puree as the pizza sauce. Once I made these, it opened all new doors. I now use roasted cherry tomatoes on a weekly basis for a multitude of recipes. They’re simple, easy, and packed with flavor.

Try them, but I take no responsibility for creating a new addiction, or causing you to need stretch pants to accommodate your overstuffed belly.


2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes

2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil

1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt & pepper (to taste)


1.       Wash & dry the tomatoes.

2.       Slice them in half.

3.       Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

4.       Place the tomatoes in a casserole dish or roasting pan so they cover the bottom in a single layer.

5.       Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper.

6.       Add thyme, and toss, coating all of the tomatoes.

7.       Roast in the oven on 425 for about 35 minutes, or until they are withered and caramelized at the edges.


Serving Suggestions:

1.       Allow them to cool and toss with fresh basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.


2.       Roast 3 cloves of garlic with the tomatoes. Puree with a hand blender, add a sprinkle of sugar if you like the sauce a bit sweet, and top raviolis, or use it as a pizza sauce for French bread pizza.

3.       Toss with mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinegar, and large croutons for a tasty panzanella.



Ridiculously Good Radishes

1-radish 1

I started gardening two years ago, and it has been a really fun family experience ever since. We started growing the basics like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and cucumbers. Last year we branched out with green beans, lettuce, snow peas, and garlic. So, when I was selecting seeds and planning for this year’s garden, I wanted to expand even farther. While shopping, a pack of radish seeds caught my eye, so I grabbed them and figured, why not?

2-radish 2

Well, I had no idea how fun radishes could be. They were the first little shoots to appear in the garden, and we were so excited to see those peeks of green as a welcome sign of the season to come. I was so surprised to see how quickly those tiny shoots turned into big leafy greens! At that point, being the radish novice that I am, I turned to the internet to find out just when to pick them. I also learned, through my farmer’s market escapades, that the leaves can be eaten, too. In fact, the leaves pack more nutritional punch than the radishes themselves. And, boy are they tasty! I will never discard them again.

4-radish 4

You can imagine our excitement today when we picked our first crop, and they were great. I started simple, with what I knew. I washed the roots and the leaves well, then cut the leaves off and tossed them with some fresh spinach. Then I sliced the radishes and tossed them in as well. Finally, I drizzled the salad with a simple, Italian vinaigrette. It was a great, fresh side salad to compliment tonight’s dinner.

5-radish 5

Radishes will now become a staple in my garden. Let me know in the comments below if you have any creative uses for radishes or the tasty greens.


Strawberry Spinach Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts in a Balsamic Honey Ginger Vinaigrette

4-photo 4‘Tis the season for salad. As the reality sets in that bathing suit, tank top, and shorts weather has arrived, we are all feeling the need to eat a little healthier and we are a bit more body conscious. But one needs to be cautious when eating salads not to fall into” lettuce limbo”, or “dressing death-traps”. This salad is a simple recipe for a well rounded meal, that won’t trick you into five extra pounds.



  • 2 cups of fresh baby spinach
  • ½- ¾ cup of fresh sliced strawberries
  • 20 toasted hazelnuts
  • 1Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of honey
  • A few shavings of fresh ginger (2-3 swipes across a micro-plane)



  1. Toast hazelnuts on the stove top by placing them in a small skillet over medium heat and swirling them in the pan until they start to brown. Keep them moving, otherwise they will burn. Allow them to cool. 5-photo 3
  2. Slice the strawberries.3-photo 5
  3. Mix with the spinach in a bowl.2-spinach
  4. While hazelnuts are cooling, combine the oil, vinegar, honey, & ginger. Whisk until well combined.6-photo 2
  5. Once hazelnuts are cool, toss into the salad with the dressing and enjoy immediately.

Prep time: 8 minutes Serves: 1 Calories: Approx 383




Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

lettuce wraps 1

One of the reasons I love Spring Break is that I get to feel like a stay-at-home mom, and join my good friends in their daytime activities. On today’s agenda was a killer kettle bell class that my girlfriends have been agonizing through for the past few weeks. This class, with its drill sergeant instructor, has been a source of curiosity for me, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to try it.

Wow! It lived up to my expectations, and while I am certain that I will not be able to use my arms, legs, abs, or ANY OTHER MUSCLE in my body tomorrow, I loved it. No pain, no gain, right?

Well, since it is my mission not to gain weight, I best be taking the same kick ass attitude towards my diet. So, in order to preserve the benefits of my exercise, tonight we are having lettuce wraps for dinner. The added bonus is that my kids LOVE them!! I’m not kidding, my middle has chosen lettuce wraps over pizza before. Happy wife = Happy life! Here is a meal that will help me achieve my dream of skinny thighs while making my kids happy with a nutritious meal. Everyone wins, and gets to be happy…even if one of us will not be able to walk up the steps for a few days.

Family Friendly Lettuce Wraps

lettuce wraps 2

The Chicken:

1 1/2 -2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of honey

Blend all of the ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken, coating each piece in the marinade, and allowing it to sit for about 1 hour.

Cook chicken strips until they are fully cooked. They can be broiled on a baking sheet lined with foil, about 7 minutes a side depending on the strength of your broiler. You may also grill them on the grill, using skewers, or in a grill pan on the stove top.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool a bit, then shred or slice in to smaller pieces. Set aside.

The Noodles:

1 5.5 oz package of rice noodles

1 Tbsp. of coconut oil

2 Tbsp. of soy sauce

Cook noodles according to the package instructions and drain. Toss noodles with oil and soy sauce. Set aside.

The Rest:

2 heads of Boston Bibb lettuce

1 cup of shredded carrots

1 cup of alfalfa or bean sprouts

Optional: Chopped green onions, thin sliced red peppers, cucumber ribbons, and chopped peanuts or cashews.

Carefully separate the leaves of lettuce from the head, wash, and dry. Clean and prepare any other fix-ins.

The Dressing:

For an easy weeknight meal, you can purchase pre-made sauces. My family loves Wegmans Sesame Garlic Sauce and Wegmans Thai Peanut Sauce. We drizzle both on our wraps. But, if you are looking to make your own, see below.

Thai Peanut Sauce-
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
1 small pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan stir to combine over medium heat until smooth, warm, and blended.

Sesame Garlic Dressing-

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. of sesame oil

Combine all ingredients, mixing well.

The Presentation:

On a large platter, arrange lettuce, carrots, sprouts, chicken, & any other fix-ins. This will allow each person to choose based on their own likes. Place the platter in the center of the table with tongs or spoons. You can serve the noodles in a separate bowl or on the platter if there is room. Place dressings in small bowls with spoons for drizzling. Finally, put chopped peanuts or cashews in small separate bowls. Each person needs a small plate on which to assemble their own wraps as they go. Now you are good to go for a fun, nutritious meal!

***Variation: If this seems a bit complicated, or messy, tear lettuce leaves on a plate and top with chicken, noodles, and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and drizzle with dressing for a Thai Chicken Salad. This dish can be tailored to suit your own tastes, so feel free to add or delete ingredients to suit your likes.



Fairy Fantastic Pool Side Salad

Fairy Fantastic Pool Side Salad

It’s bathing suit season
And salad gets lame
So try this alternative to spice up the game.
Smear on your sunscreen and grab a good spot
Don’t stress about diet… give healthy a shot!

• 1 C Baby Arugula
• 1 C Lamb’s Lettuce
• 3 Tbsp. Marcona Almonds – roughly chopped
• 2 Tbsp. golden raisins
• 10 thin shavings of fresh Paive or Parmesan cheese ( I use my carrot peeler)
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• ½ tsp. honey
1. Mix greens in a bowl.
2. Toss with cheese, almonds, and raisins.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, & honey
4. Drizzle dressing on top of salad.
• Top salad with grilled chicken, fish, or pork.




Orange Ginger Chicken Salad with a Black Currant Balsamic Vinegairette

A tropical treasure is what you desire

so light up the grill and turn on the fire

sprinkle with ginger and tart orange zest

then toss for a salad that beats all the rest!

I was inspired today; I wanted to cook something new. A few days ago, a co-worker was telling me about coconut oil, and I was intrigued. so, during my regular grocery store trip, I grabbed some.

I don’t suggest you google it…there are a bunch of angry bloggers who have a lot to say about it!

I also picked up a cute little bottle of Orange Ginger seasoning.


So, today as I was thinking about dinner, I realized

Coconut Oil + Orange Ginger Rub + Chicken = Pretty Awesome.

Remember, I teach language arts, not math!

I put the coconut oil into a large Ziploc bag and let it float in a sink of warm water as the oil is solid at room temperature.

Then I added the chicken and seasoning, resealed, and let it float for about 20 minutes.

I also flattened the chicken a bit to cut the grilling time…(I just bang it with a heavy wooden spoon until it is about 3/4 inch thick– I know, very professional)

Grill the chicken until cooked thoroughly, then let it rest for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place mixed greens on a plate and top with raspberries, sliced almonds, and mandarin oranges.

Cut chicken, place on top of the salad, and drizzle with the black currant and balsamic dressing. ( I whisked equal parts black currant balsamic vinegar and olive oil)

Then eat! This was a quick, easy, throw together recipe.


Orange Ginger Chicken Salad with Black Currant Balsamic Dressing

As for those of you that always ask if my kids really eat it…YES…sort of…just in a different shape 🙂