Panara Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I’ve mentioned before I am a chocolate chip cookie failure!  I just can’t make a perfect chocolate chip cookie….and here is another recipe to prove that!  HA!  These were BIG, and delicious……and we all enjoyed them!  BUT there were slightly brown and not as soft as I thought they’d be….surprised?  I’m not!  That’s how I roll in chocolate chip cookie baking.  It’s embarrassing, it really is….. but I’m trying!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and here is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.   And as I said before they were great…very tasty and we all enjoyed them and I followed the recipe EXACTLY!  Maybe you’ll have better luck and your cookies will look and feel just as the originals do!  Let me know how that goes!

Panara Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Mix butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and mix together.
Mix dry ingredients slowly into wet ingredients and blend well.
If the dough is crumbly, stir in water 1 teaspoon at a time until it just holds together. The dough should not be sticky.
Add in chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
Using ¼ cup measure, scoop out dough and form into a ball. Continue until all dough is balled. Approx 24 cookies.
Place dough in the freezer for 2 hours or up to 3 months.
Place frozen cookie onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 min.
Let cool 2 minutes.


***notice the brown, crispy look??***


They were HUGE!!!




Are you Ready for Some Football??


The big day is finally here!!!   And we are having a party!  My family is split this year….my youngest daughter (Ava) and I are hoping for a Seahawks win and my husband and older daughter (Olivia) are hoping the Broncos can pull it off!   Should be exciting!!!

What’s on the menu, you ask?  Well…..I’ll be making things I’ve already posted on here and adding a few more surprises!  This year we will be having:

Pepperoni Bread


Sloppy Joe Sandwiches — NJ Style (much different than the rest of the world) — Recipe Coming Soon

Bacon & Cheese Dip — Recipe Coming Soon

Artichoke Dip (made by a friend)

Pigs in a Blanket (made by friend)

Football Themed Cupcakes (made by a friend)

Snickers Dip

I’m ready for some food….and football…are you?

What’s on your menu for the Super Bowl???

Who are you rooting for?





Kung Pao Shrimp

Taking a little break from football foods today, in honor of Chinese New Year,  tomorrow!

I had originally gotten a Kung Pao Chicken recipe from Sing For Your Supper.    I have made a bunch of her dishes and they are always excellent!    I’m sure you’ll see me blog about her recipes in the future….but in the meantime, you should definitely check out her blog for yourself!

OK back to the recipe…..I used her chicken recipe, but just swapped the chicken with approx. 1 pound of large, deveined shrimp.
As usual I served it with fried rice (I like it much better than white rice) and my husband and I both enjoyed it very much!    The perfect combo of sweet, nutty and spicy.    This recipe is nice because you can adjust how much spice you want in your life and it’s still very good!  My little ones aren’t huge fans of spicy foods, so I cut back the red pepper flakes on this one, but it was still pretty PAOerful!  Ha Ha Ha!  Sorry I had to!  🙂

Kung Pao Shrimp

1lb uncooked, deveined, shell removed large shrimp.

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons of Vidalia onion chopped

3 garlic cloves (minced)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used less than she called for b/c 2 of my taste tasters are my kids)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

Combine shrimp and cornstarch in a small bowl and toss to coat. Heat sesame oil in wok (or large deep-dish skillet) over medium heat, add shrimp and stir fry approx.  5-7 minutes (or until pink and fully cooked).    Remove shrimp from wok.

Add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and ginger to the wok and stir fry for 15 seconds.

Combine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and add the sauce to the wok.

Return shrimp to the wok and coat with sauce. Stir in roasted peanuts. Heat thoroughly.  Place over white or fried rice.  





Some of my Favorite Things!

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens….bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…

So I’ve already told you many things I love in my first post……but here are some more of my favorite things when it comes to food, cooking and baking!  Some of my must haves in the kitchen and what I always have on hand for cooking too!


  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Seafood (pretty much any and every kind)
  • Bread (especially with butter — YUM!)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Soup
  • Ranch Dressing (not really a “food” but it should be)
  • Chicken
  • Potatoes
  • Green Veggies

Top 10 Foods I ALWAYS Have on Hand

  • Broths of different flavors (chicken, beef, vegetable)
  • Pasta of different shapes and sizes
  • Tomatoes of different shapes and sizes (crushed, paste, diced, sauce)
  • Avocados
  • A full spice cabinet and rack
  • Ground Turkey
  • Frozen Shrimp
  • Chicken breasts
  • Vidalia Onions and Garlic
  • Bacon

Top 10 Small Appliances and Knick-Knacks

  • Bagel Guillotine
  • Small scoop — for cookie dough, meatballs (like this)
  • Waffle Iron
  • Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
  • Stick Blender (I have this one)
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Saute Tongs
  • 1 cup prep bowls
  • Scoop N Drain (I have this one)
  • Cheese Grater (with multi size grates)


When the dog bites….when the bee stings…when I’m feeling sad…….  I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feeeeeeellll…. sooooo…. baaaaaad!



I am beyond thrilled to be writing my first post on my brand new blog!   I had another blog over the past few years, but decided I needed my own website and here I am!

I’d like to start off by telling all of you a little about myself.  My name is Gianna and I live in New Jersey.  I have been married to my husband, Joe for 10 years.   We have 2 little girls, Olivia age 8 and Ava age 5.  They keep us very busy!  Olivia swims competitively for our local YMCA from September-June and swims for our town pool all summer.   She really loves swimming and we love to watch her!  I think watching her swim is one of my favorite things.  EVER!  She also dances (hip hop) and plays soccer.  Ava is our little dancer/gymnast.  She switches between both…which is just her personality.  Very free-spirited and fun loving!  Watching her dance (ballet and tap)  and do gymnastics is another one of my favorite things!  She also plays basketball.   We have a 10 year old Toy Fox Terrier named Muggsy Bogues (after the smallest NBA player) who weighs in at a whooping 5.5 pounds and we have 2 guinea pigs (I’m not a fan of them).  Sparkles and Sparrow (Named after Capt. Jack) are 2 year old sisters.  And finally 2 fish tanks that Joe keeps up with.  So that’s my family…an you’ll learn a whole lot about us thru this blog!  Especially about our favorites (and least favorite) foods, family traditions, and about our extended 3/4 Italian, 1/4 Irish families.   I’m the 100% Italian (the better side) whereas Joe is 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Irish, but I think he has some German or something sprinkled in too!

Here we are!!!

Image 1

I LOVE to cook!  I LOVE to bake!  I LOVE to Entertain in my own home!  And I LOVE to party plan!   Which is what this website is dedicated to….cooking, baking, entertaining!  So if you enjoy these things…or if you are looking for new recipes or new traditions to bring to your own’ve come to the right place!  And I’m glad you are here!  Every so often I may post about other things…but mostly FOOD!!!    I LOVE FOOD!!!!

Other things I love…the beach (especially Lavallette, NJ), summer, avocados, playing dodgeball (yes, I REALLY play in a dodgeball  league), Dave Matthews, Disney World, running/working out, Johnny Depp, flip flops, bread & butter, my bed, flavored vodka, bacon, UGGS and all of my family and friends!

In 2013 I lost my Mom to breast cancer.   She was the one who really taught me everything I know about cooking, baking and entertaining.   So this website is dedicated to her.   It wasn’t a great year for my family and I, but our strength is what holds us together.  I am hoping for a very happy, healthy 2014 for my family and yours.

Ok enough about me….for now, let’s get cooking!!!



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