Growing up in Irish/Italian Catholic family, Easter Sunday has always been a pretty big deal and it was always one of my favorite holidays. I remember as a little girl, when my parents yelled for me to get up on Easter Sunday Morning because “the bunny came” there was only one bunny I was concerned about and he came in the form of a cake. Creamy frosting, tangy coconut flakes, moist white cake and semisweet chocolate chips all in one forkful was reason enough for me to wake up and rejoice.

 Even though I am now in my late 20s, I have refused to let the Bunny Cake tradition die. Every Easter Sunday, my mom and I still make the Bunny Cake.  I force my cousins into helping me decorate it (we’re all in our 20s, but I think they secretly enjoy it too).  We have so many desserts that I usually end up eating a big chunk of this cake (ears and bowtie included) myself.  Luckily, there are some ways to tweak this recipe to make it helpful and save on calories. (I have included these below).

Now, I am certainly NOT a baker. Whenever I have baked something from scratch, I’ve ended up with vanilla cupcakes with black, charred bottoms, cookies that were harder than rocks, and cakes that tasted like cement and weighed more than a ton of bricks.  Oh, and I can’t forget the chocolate peanut butter fudge that could ignite the gag reflex of the strongest stomach.  I’m working on the baking from scratch, but until then, I will rely on help from two amazing and reliable friends, Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker. They play a big part in the tastiness of the Bunny Cake.

This recipe is simple, fun at any age, and a great project for kids. Most importantly, it tastes great! This Bunny Cake makes me want to skip along a sidewalk lined with tulips, singing, “Hippity, hoppity, Easter is on its’ way!” I hope you’ll feel that way too!


1 box of white cake mix (Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker)
3 eggs
1/4 cup of oil
1 container of cool whip
1 package of coconut
1 bag of jelly beans
1/2 bag of Nestle Semi Sweet chocolate chips
Small bottles of food coloring (red, green, blue)
Optional: Twizzlers

2 10 -inch cake pans
1 large pan or tray to display cake
3 small bowls (to die coconut in)

1) Prepare cake mix according to directions. Pour into two 10 inch round baking pans. Bake. Let cool.
2) When completely cool, take 1 10 inch round cake and cut out bowtie shape from one of cake. (in the shape of two half moons).
3) Assemble the cake to look like the bunny in the picture in a large pan or on a large tray.
4) Ice the bunny with cool whip icing.
5) Outline the ears and the bow tie with the chocolate chips.
6) Die the coconut in small bowls. I usually use green coconut for the grass around the bunny, pink to outline the ears, and blue, yellow, or purple for the tie.
7) Use jellybeans for the eyes and nose.
8) Use twizzlers for the whiskers. I use chocolate chips – the more chocolate, the better.
9) Garnish the grass with the jellybeans.

Healthy tip: To save calories, use the 1/2 sugar boxed cake mix and fat free cool whip.

Happy Easter or Buon Pasquale to you and yours! Enjoy 🙂

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have never been a huge fan of Chinese food. It’s alright and I will eat it if it’s there, but I favor other cuisines. The exception: this salad, a mix of chinese and new american flavors. It is crunchy, tangy, and incredibly fresh tasting (thanks to the cilantro!) I came up with this recipe after seeing it made several different ways in a few cookbooks that I have. Sometimes I make my own dressing but to keep it simple this time I just opted to use the Newman’s Own Low-Fat Seasame Ginger Salad Dressing. Boy, was I glad I did – the flavors were amazing!

I recently made this salad for the barbecue that I spoke about in my berry strata posting. I was really surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response I got from everyone! After one nameless individual who is normally a vegan unabashedly proclaimed that it was the best salad she had ever tasted, I knew it would be worthy a Fairytale Feast posting.

Serves 6 (maybe more, depending on how hungry you are!)

1 head red cabbage
1 head Napa Cabbage
2 chicken breasts, shredded (I used all white meat from Wegman’s plain Rotissieri Chicken)
2 cups cilantro
1 jar Dole mandarin oranges (drained)
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon sugar
La Choy Chow Mein Noodles
1/2 bottle of Newman’s Own Low-Fat Seasame Ginger Salad Dressing

Optional Ingredients (I didn’t add them here):
water chestnuts (sliced, drained)
shredded carrot

Direstions: Slice red cabbage and napa cabbage into thin strips. Discard cores. In a large salad bowl, toss cabbage and sprinkle with sugar.  Shred chicken and add to cabbage. Chop cilantro, discardding stems, and add to bowl.  Add slivered almonds. Mix well.

When ready to serve, add 1 jar drained mandarin oranges. Top with noodles. Season with dressing.  Mix well. Serve immediately.


SPRING IS HERE! For some reason I associated Spring with berries and pies – the kinds you would see on the cover of Southern Living Magazine. Berry pies. Cherry Pies. Strawberry pies. Rhubarb pies. Strawberry – Rhubarb pies.  It doesn’t matter. It if looks pretty, I’ll try it. Unfortunately, when it comes to baking a pie, I am a seasoned failure in this area.  My solution when I’m craving a homemade berry pie? A berry strata by Giada DiLaurentis, which combines two of my favorite ingredients: bread and berries. It’s a simple, no fuss recipe and it tastes fantastic.  It manages to taste gooey and rich while retaining the sweet full fruit flavor from the berries.

Anther reason I love this recipe is because you can make it hours ahead of time and then bake it when you are ready. Recently, I went to my first barbecue of the season and I decided to make this strata. I made it almost exactly according to this recipe except I used 1% milk (that is all I had on hand and it saved a few calories).  I used a country-style farm bread from Wegmans and cut it into 1 inch pieces. I may have used more than 4 pieces but I did not use the whole loaf.  I probably should have coated the bread more evenly in the mixture and was a little disappointed with myself about it but no one else seemed to mind.  I let it refrigerate for about four hours and then I baked it on location at the barbecue. The result was a big hit! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all did!

Berry Strata 

by Giada DiLaurentis


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 slices of bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen mixed berries, thawed and drained


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off the heat, add the honey, and stir to combine.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, and sugar. Using a fork, mix to combine and beat the eggs. Add the milk, orange juice, butter and honey mixture, and bread. Stir to combine. Gently fold in the berries.
Place the ingredients in a 10-inch round (2-quart) baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the strata until golden on top and baked through, about 40 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon into dishes and serve.

(Strata before baking)

I was a young and impressionable 18 year old when I first arrived in New York City. I didn’t know a lot about city life but I quickly learned that Manhattan cuisine was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in my homeland of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  (Don’t get me wrong – NEPA has some amazing foods that cannot easily be replicated in NYC or anywhere else. AKA: square pizza, pierogies, cheesesteaks, Pennsylvania Dutch influenced menu items, WINGS and other items too numerous to mention.)  But in New York City, fresh of the Martz Bus, I felt like a girl who had just won the golden ticket.

From the corner deli to the Zagat rated restaurant, everywhere I went in New York City there was something new for me to taste. Authentic Mexican, Italian, French, Asian, Moroccan, Indian, Thai, Creole, Soul Food, Southern Barbecue were all easily within my reach.  Some were available via biker delivery, 24 hours a day.  Even ordinary items like pizza and bagels were available in so many variations and packed full of so many new flavors, I felt overwhelmed at times.  All of my life, I had loved food but never realized how much until I arrived in the city.    Every time I stepped foot outside of my apartment, I became a kid in a candy shop.  In many ways, when I visit the city, I still am.On one occasion during my first Spring season in New York City, I had one of the most incredible, flavorful chicken salad sandwiches while enjoying a sunny picnic lunch in Central Park. I had ordered lunch to-go from a little deli on the Upper West side. While I don’t remember the name of the deli, I do remember the chicken salad sandwich – in fact, my mouth still waters when I think about it.  Unlike any chicken salad I have ever had before, this chicken salad was composed of jumbo lumps of roasted white chicken breast that undoubtedly did NOT come from a can.  Scooped between two pieces of thick, crusty rustic rye bread, this chicken salad had a unique crunch that was intensified by slivered roasted almonds.  It was as goey as it was crunchy, mixed with just the right amount of creamy mayonnaise that dripped into the wax paper it was wrapped in as a I took each bite.  Most surprising to me were the chopped New York red delicious apples hidden in the chicken salad mix which took this chicken salad to an entirely new level of deliciousness for a sandwhich.

Now, years later, I still crave this sandwich so I’ve come up with my own quick and light version.  I switched full fat mayo for a lighter version and I cut down on the amount to save some calories.  To save time, I used canned chicken breast, but it is admittedly more flavorful if you roast your own chicken breasts. (Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 min at 350 degrees. Shred or chop.) But who really has time for that?

Diana’s City-Style Chicken Salad Sandwich
Serves 3-4

1 can of chicken salad
1 small tart apple, diced (can substitute handful halved grapes)
1/4 cup of diced red onion
1/4 cup of diced celery (1 stalk)

1/4 cup of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of fat free mayo
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
Sliced red tomato
Handful of mixed greens

Combine all the ingred0ients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on crusty rye bread, pumperknickle toast, or mini whole wheat pitas.  Layer with thin slices of juicy red tomato, handful of mixed greens.

If you need a little bit more comfort and buttery goodness, try this salad on buttered and grilled Texas toast. Beware this will increase calories/fat but sometimes, its all worth it!


One of my favorite things to indulge in when I have a sore throat or am feeling under the weather is a fruit smoothie. The smooth and cool texture of blended fruit is very soothing to a sore throat. Smoothies are also an excellent source of calcium, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Add some vitamin C and you have a mean flu fighter as well.

Homemade smoothies are by far the best because you can control the ingredients you put into them. Some store or restaurant smoothies are laden with sugar and fat that can trick you into thinking you’re treating your body to something healthy when you are really not. By making it yourself, you can control what you put into your body and use the freshest ingredients to ensure a healthy, full flavor.

Here is my very simple and healthful smoothie recipe to get you looking and feeling your best. Try this smoothie for breakfast, a snack, or when you are feeling sick and it is sure to revive your spirits and refresh your soul. 
Orange, Strawberry and Banana Smoothie 
Serves 2
1 banana
1 cup Dole frozen strawberries
1/2 cup reduced sugar orange juice
1 cup 1% milk (can substitute fat free vanilla yogurt)
2 tablespoons honey
Combine all the ingredients above in a blender. Pulse to crush fruit. Then liquefy until smooth. 

The Oscars are on this Sunday! This year, one of the nominees for best picture, Julie and Julia, is about a young female blogger who chronicles her kitchen experiences as she attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” 


As Julie blogs her experiences, the movie cleverly reflects back upon the life of Julia Child, who is undoubtedly one of the of the greatest and most influential chefs of our time. We witness Julia’s struggles as the only female student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. It was so humbling and comforting to me that even Julia Child had to practice, practice, practice at her perfecting her cutting skills! Her strength and perseverance throughout her culinary school experience helped her to achieve an unsurpassed level of success and notoriety as wonderful chef. Julia Child is a wonderful example of someone who succeeded as a result of hard work and that is why I love her!


So in honor of Julia, I also attempted to recreate one of her most popular dishes, Beef Bourguignon. I chose to use a recipe for this dish from Relish Magazine because it scaled back the fat and calorie content without sacrificing the flavor. The result: one of the most comforting, flavorful, and guilt-free dishes I have ever made! The best part? It was EASY! You will notice that this posting is similar to my previous posting about the Gumbo – but let me tell you, this recipe was less involved and a little bit easier. (The hard work for the gumbo paid off though and I die for that smokey flavor -)


I highly recommend trying this for your Oscar viewing party in honor of Julia! Your friends will be impressed and your taste buds will be thankful! Enjoy ! 🙂

Beef Bourguignon

To put a healthy spin on Julia Child’s original bourguignon (boor-gee-NYON), we’ve used lean beef and increased the veggies. The recipe uses a beurre manié, a mixture of butter and flour that thickens the sauce so that it, in Child’s words, “enrobes” the other ingredients. Boy, did it.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean beef stew meat
2 cups vertically sliced onions
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (12-ounce) package button mushrooms, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional) 


1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef in batches and cook until brown. Remove to a plate.

2. Add onion, carrot, mushrooms and bell pepper to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return beef and any juices to pan. Add tomatoes and next 8 ingredients (tomatoes through black pepper). Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook 2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf.

3. Combine flour and butter in a small bowl. Mix with your fingers or a fork until mixture becomes a paste. Ladle about 1/2 cup pan juices into flour mixture. Whisk until very smooth. Add to pan. Stir well.

4. To serve, ladle into soup plates and sprinkle with parsley if using.

Relish Magazine, “Lightened Classics,” Jan. 2010. Recipe by Jean Kressy.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 250 calories, 8g fat, 55mg chol., 22g prot., 14g carbs., 3g fiber, 340mg sodium.