We love to throw a good party. The bigger the better. The more the merrier. We’ve done it so often that we have a strategic process in play, all the accoutrement we need, and of course, recipes that make for delicious entertaining eats.

When we aren’t throwing a 4th of July Pig Roast or an Oktoberfest, we cook and bake in the messiest ways – but all with love!

Our littlest, Fred, upon eating something delicious belts out, “Mama, it’s yummy in my tummy!” A pleased smile forms on his face and he rubs his belly in a circular motion. As an Italian mama, a happy and well fed child thrills me! And while I love to cook my family’s Italian specialities and bake all sorts of sweet treats, I’m not the chef in our family. Nope! My husband Gary is – he’s amazingly talented and super messy. While cooking isn’t his day job, it’s certainly his passion.

But we’re not the only ones who are passionate about food – we have a bunch of friends and neighbors who are just as crazy about entertaining eats as we are. Here, we share our recipes and stories with you.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies with Sea Salt

By: Liz Lewis of Lizzez Fare

This recipe is a variation on my standard Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Instead of toffee pieces, I’ve done pretzel pieces and even chopped maraschino cherries. (I like to save those for the Holidays.) If you can’t find the toffee pieces, these cookies are positively delicious with just chocolate chips and sea salt.

A few things before we start: I try to use mostly organic ingredients. 

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Spicy Asian Noodle Soup For What Ails You

Spicy Asian Noodle Soup, A Family Favorite

The fall cold season settled heavily upon the Labianca/McDaniel household.  With three sick kids sporting four infected ears among them and two sniffly parents, I decided it was time for some Spicy Asian Noodle Soup.

This soup is a family favorite and is great to clear up sinuses and help break a fever when you’re sick. (Just add extra ginger and chilis to the broth.) It is also just a delicious,

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If You Relish Pickles, You Will Love Our Pickled Vegetables

Every year we host at least 2 big outside parties – the pig roast on the 4th of July and Oktoberfest in the fall. One of the first things I do to get ready for Oktoberfest, once the hot sauce is bottled, is to make some crunchy, briny pickled vegetables to balance out the beer and brats. I raided the garden for cherry tomatoes, cherry peppers,


Early Taste of Fall | Chicken Pot Pies


  1. 1 lb. of chicken – either breast or thighs
  2. Salt and pepper to taste
  3. extra virgin olive oil to cover the the bottom of the Dutch oven
  4. Diced vegetables of whatever is in season (one of each)
  5. 1 cup of frozen peas
  6. 1 small red onion
  7. 2 cloves of garlic
  8. 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  9. 1 and 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  10. Ready Made biscuit dough (i.e.
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Baskets of Hot Peppers in the Garden? Make Hot Sauce!

Our garden this year has been a juggernaut – kale that grows faster than we can eat it, tomatoes everywhere, carrots with greens shooting up over our kids’ heads, and even more chili peppers than I know what to do with.So what does one do with all those peppers? You know what they say: when God gives you hot peppers, make hot sauce!

But given I’m trying to get rid of a couple dozen habaneros,

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FOUNDER & LEAD CONTENT STRATEGIST I live in a gorgeous 1895 Victorian otherwise know as No.139, with my husband Gary McDaniel, who is a frequent foodie contributor to this blog, and our three kids. While only four other families have called this place home, some of them made really bad choices that altered it’s classic design. And there was a cheapo flipper in the mix too. Now, we’re cleaning up their messes. This blog is a creative outlet for the love of home design and art, doable DIY, indulging in good eats, and throwing a good party. While I write many of our articles, I’m not the only voice. Tradespersons, small business owners, or our good neighbors with special talents will share what they’ve learned through posts, photography, and video. Think about it. Who better to give you advice on landscape design, a well-stocked bar, or how to hire (and fire) the right contractor for your home reno than those who do it for a living or simply a passion to give voice to their hobby? My day (and weekend) job as a REALTOR®-Salesperson for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Maplewood, NJ, gives me a unique opportunity to peek inside homes. Whether a it’s a sparkling or still-in-the-rough kind of diamond – all are dream worthy. I manage my real estate biz through my brand, INHABIT SOMa by Carla Labianca.

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