January 30, 2010

Cowgirl Dinner Party

My sweet sister, aren't we cute in our matching Pioneer Woman T's. I couldn't have pulled this dinner off with out her!

My ears are still ringing from all the laughter that was in this house last night. Yowza it was like a giggle concert. Laughter is definitely the BEST medicine for mid-winter in Michigan. That and flowers. Did I tell you I like flowers.....

Enough about flowers already....we GOT a pardeee we need to be talkin' bout! So my first cowgirls showed up with some cowboys...naughty cowgirls...this was a girls only party.

Now that's a Cowboy! So I guess we will allow these cowboys...

All the way from NYC the Naked Cowboy! I'm telling you P-Dub Fans know how to have a party!

Lookee here...my guest came bearing not wine but iron skillets! WoooHoooo that's what I'm talkin'bout!

I didn't really do much with the "cowboy" theme....for me it was all about the FOOD and the FRIENDS, but I did use these bandanas for napkins...cute huh?

The Sangria is enough to toss your boots off for. You will be Yippee-ki-yaying all night after a few glasses of this stuff!

I stuck to the Cowgirl Dinner Party menu in my "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" cookbook, BUT I also had to add a few other P-Dub specialties, since she didn't have a salad or appetizers I added some of my favorites of hers.

Starters: P-Dubs Restaurant Style Salsa (make this one, it is awesome!), Guac with chips, and BBQ Jalepena Poppers (I did a variation with bits of pineapple mixed in with the cream cheese...personally I like the original BBQ poppers better.)


This is actually not my photo, it's Pioneer Womans, but I did make this salad, I just failed to get a picture of it. I could eat this salad everyday. EVERYDAY!

The Burgundy Mushrooms, these babies were the big HIT. I had to slap hands away as I was putting them in the serving bowl. One word YUM!

I had never served Roasted Beef Tenderloin before. I actually went out and invested in a decent meat thermometer for this hunk-0-meat. It turned out fantastic. I followed P-Dubs directions AND of course, it turned out fantastic! Why was I even doubting that it wouldn't!

Creamy Rosemary Potatoes and the word on these taters, sinful...

Cheesy Olive Bread...I have dreams about this stuff!

Dessert: Creme Brulee with fresh raspberries and blackberries (thank you Costco for the awesome berries!)

Ok, the ladies were licking their ramkins...I have pictures to prove it...

It was FANTASTICAL! Every last morsel. And I give all the credit to P-Dub. I don't think anyone could mess up one of her recipes she lays it all out for you, what could be easier.

Jacks take on the whole shindig...

Hmmm naked foamboard cowboy in that corner...

Ladies licking ramkins at the table...

There goes the neighborhood...

Smarty cowgirls brought invitations for the next dinner party...even filled them all out for me. I just have to put them in the snailmail, and start cookin'! I can't wait!

post signature

January 29, 2010

preparing for my COWgirls....

Shopping, shopping, and shopping some more. My husband is getting tense. It's not that the meal is complicated, it's just that I want it to be just right. And I needed an excuse to finally put lamps on the tables by my couch that have been lampless for two years! I hate messing with interior decorating....I burned myself out after building three houses and picking out every stinkin' thing on my own. Done with that...now I beg friends and hire out on occasion. Lamps are not all I have been shopping for....

Look at this baby...this would be the beef tenderloin that I am serving my cowgirls. Have any of you ever bought 10lbs of beef tenderloin before? After they gave me smelling salts, I picked myself up off Bob the Butchers floor and called my insurance company to upgrade before driving this investment home. I was not taking any chances of it rolling or bruising so I thought I'd better buckle him in. All kidding aside...you ladies are worth every penny!

No these are not my Cowgirls...these are my little man dudes. I went to school to help them sell pencils and folders. Just so you know this "Ree project" hasn't completely taken over my life. I do get out away from the kitchen on occasion, besides shopping for groceries and lamps.

Oh and this picture is for brownie points with my tense husband, I am gettin the oil changed in my van. ON TIME! Yes, wonders never cease....

The spectacular mushrooms that I had to skip my work out for this morning, BECAUSE they take 9 hours to cook! Start time 8:25 AM.

Creme Brulee...need I say more?

Have I ever told you that I love FLOWERS! I DO! I love flowers! So this was a good excuse to fill my house with them in the DEAD of winter for my GIRLS. It's like 16 degrees! Yowza flowers will cure that!

This is my sweeeet son that shoveled the sidewalk for my "cowgirls".

Ok I gotta go, my "cowgirls" are showing up and OH my GOODNESS gracious me, "the Naked Cowboy" showed up all the way from NYC!

post signature

January 28, 2010

cooking school HANGOVER

Today, I have a cooking school hangover. Slow, sluggish, puffy, nauseated ooooaaaoooaaeee, why did I do that, why did I eat SO much so late!? Last night Dee and I took the Paris Bistro class at DW's Fresh Market Culinary classroom in Grandville. Here is what we and about 20 others learned to recreate in our own kitchens:

Moules Mariniere=mussels in wine sauce
Sole and Trout meuniere =fish dregded in flour
Soupe a oignon = french onion soup (good french onion soup!)
Crouque Monsieur = grilled ham and cheese sandwich
Crudites and Hors d'Oeuvre Varies = vegi plate extraordinaire!
Coq au Vin = chicken in wine
Pommes Anna = potatos with lots of butter
Steak-Frites = my favorite steak rare with homemade french fries
La Salade/French Vinaigrette = salad
Plateau de Fromage = plate of cheese with dried fruits and nuts
Tarte Tatin = apple and pear tarts with custard cream
Profiteroles = cream puffs with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Creme Caramel = french flan or custard

Now, I don't know about you, but that is a lot of food to partake of after 9pm! Of course I couldn't not try everything, just a taste....Oh yeah, they also fed us watercress soup when we arrived...a simple soup just to warm us up! Thank you.

Our teacher Chef Roz Mayberry was very enthusiastic about helping us to learn about what French Bisto food is. She has lived in France and her excitement for the country and the food was contagious!

We started with learning how to butcher a chicken. Which if you have been reading me for very long, you KNOW this is a place I have room for improvement!

After this brief demonstration, the recipes where handed out and we got to work. Here is what is sort of funny. Dee and I got stuck with grilled ham and cheese and potatoes with butter and the arranging of the cheese plate! Next time we decided we are going to put on our aggressive hats and go for the big recipes. We were newbies and we weren't quite sure how it worked...so we got stuck with the easy stuff. BUT, this gave us the time and opportunity to go exploring, visiting, watching and learning what everyone else was doing. So we really probably learned more now that I think about it because we were not concentrating on one recipe... so either way it's all good!

Lets start with dessert....cream puffs, these are pre dark chocolate sauce, but aren't they pretty. Our friend Fiona was apparently born to make cream puffs!

Chef Mayberry made this ahead of time for us Creme Caramel. Ooh-la-la merci! See I am even starting to speak french now, just from one night of cooking it! Voila! I did find myself talking to myself, like Inspector Clouseau in my head(cause that's just a weird thing I do). "May I be verwee fwank wid you...zat Coq au Vin loooooks mawvlous." See strange I know...sorry.

Julie was at our station, she is a cooking school veteran. Julie was good. She knew the ropes... she put together this beautiful plate of Crudites. Allison our other table mate, she made the Moules Mariniere...yummy! I love mussels. Dee was not so sure if she loved them...shoot! should have taken a picture of Dee eating mussels! Then we had one more table mate that took off to make the Coq au Vin...she was afraid our passivity was contagious.

WOW! lookee here Croque Monsieur, sounds so much more complicated than grilled ham and cheese. We did have to dip them in an egg wash first mind you.

This is the start of our cheese plate. We later added dried cherries, apricots and walnuts to the plate. I had to walk away. That blue cheese was SCREAMING my name, in french mind you.... and it would not have been pretty if I would have done a number on the blue cheese. Oh my! Do I love blue cheese!

Here it is, the whole shanaly (as my kids would say...don't ask...).

And here it is again. It was very fun, and a great value. ($40 for 3+ hour class and they have people to clean up your mess!) I would recommend trying a class here if you haven't already or find a cooking class in your area. I even read in the Grand Rapids Press yesterday of a Chef that you can pay to come in your home and teach classes. Just in case you don't want to go and get stuck next to the blue cheese bandit in a class you paid good money for.

post signature

January 27, 2010


Life is full of disappointments, everyday there is something that disappoints us..right? We most likely don't even register it on our disappointment radar. We process it and go on. Life goes on! Usually I don't get my hopes up over stuff... like raffle tickets or drawings or winning things. I never play the lottery. Not that I have a big stance on gambling...I just think it is setting myself up to be disappointed and of course throwing my money away at the same time. (enough said)

BUT I let myself do it this week.... I let myself get my hopes up. Ree aka the Pioneer Woman. (And if you STILL don't know who this person is PLEASE, I beg of you go to her website NOW.) was doing a giveaway last week. NOT just any giveaway either. GIVEAWAY = a weekend at her ranch, at "the lodge", a weekend of eating, also including a Sushi Chef coming and teaching us how to make sushi. DID YOU HEAR ME a Sushi Chef.....okay, I am getting a little excited.....deep cleansing breaths...okay I need to go get a cup of java-Jo.

Yummy a fresh cup-o-Jo makes everything better. So as I was saying, four people could win this and bring a guest with them. 23,209 people commented! My chances where 2 in 23, 209 because my sister entered too, so I knew she would bring me, because if she didn't I would have to rassle her! I really wanted to win. But I didn't.....POOOP!

Today I checked her site she announced the winners...BUT here is the kicker Dana in Idaho has yet to get back with P-Dub, sooooo I may still have a chance. I am holding out hope, and setting myself up for disappointment. Oh well! Tomorrows a new day.....I won't let it get me down. Besides I've got my Cowgirl Dinner Party Friday to prepare for... see always something to look forward to!

post signature

January 25, 2010

movie review: The ToothFairy

Okay... Dwayne "the ROCK" Johnson......what more do I have to say....this guys cheesy smile is the best! I took my four + two more kiddos Sunday night to see "The Tooth Fairy". (Daddy was watching football playoff games and we needed to escape, things can get intense at our house during big football games.) If you were in Grandville at the same movie, and you thought, "who's the Chick with the basketball team", that was me!

The paper gave it two STARS...I am sorry, what do they teach these people in movie critic school! We loved this movie. It was good, clean fun! It pleased the 13 year olds and the 7 years olds. WHAT more do I have to say???? I did not set there taking notes on bad words and use of alcohol, but I always have my mommy radar on in movies and nothing stood out to me. Very clean....only a little bit of smooching and then he went home to his own bed.

We are living in the age of Avatar, and Harry Potter, when people forget what it means just to watch a good wholesome movie and enjoy it with out being disappointed because there weren't enough bells and whistles, or some super, fantastical story line. AND Billy Crystal was in it for goodness sake! Where has Billy been??? I love him. The Tooth Fairy's case worker "Tracy" was very lovable. I had never seen this guy in a movie. He was funny. And Julie Andrews as the Queen Fairy, PERFECT. Watch for her wings to blush. This move made us ALL giggle. All around, giggles makes it at least a 3 Star here on Strawberry Cake Movie Reviews.com. The press said it was 80's. HEY whats wrong with 80's???!!! I grew up in the 80's, and it was gnarly.

So that's my 2cents on this movie. If you have seen it, let me know what you think, because, I never went to movie critic school(if there even is such a thing), I am just self taught! Mostly on 80's movies..

My panel of kid movie reviewers gave it a 3 1/2 STAR.

post signature

January 24, 2010


Isn't this lovely? I asked my oldest and my youngest to set the table for dinner. Not exactly the way I would have done it nor is it the way I have taught them. But they did it and they did it together, with out complaining or fighting. That in itself is a wonder to behold. I am finding that sometimes I ask for one thing and I get something totally different and its in what I get that I need to look for what was good.

Of course I couldn't let my mother-n-law show up to a table looking like that....Youwza...she would think I had a brain tumor or something. So of course I fixed it and did it the proper way. Well, as proper as it gets in this house anyway. My oldest son did notice when he sat down, "HEY, what happened to the glasses I put out?" "Well, Cuzzy (that's what we call him....Cuzzy)those were tumblers so unless we were all going to have a gin and tonic.....I thought we might need to put out the milk glasses".

A good friend told me once, and this is really not new or profound but it's good advice; and I need to remind myself of it almost daily,...."Pick your battles." she said. At the time I was getting married and it pertained to wedding planning. But that holds true for any and every relationship....especially I am finding as my kids get older. I have to ask myself WHAT is really important in this situation. That my table look like Martha's or like a 13(boy) and 7(girl) year old set it with out complaint and worked together. Okay here I go again at my great Bible memory....there is of course also an awesome piece of advice in THE book God tells us not to exasperate our kids, not to push them over the edge....to expect too much. (I know I've read it, so if you know it hey feel free to share the location) Let them be kids, let them learn from doing things over. There is a fine line in that, but I need to walk it as a parent. And just SO you know, most days I fall off that line.....and I have to ask for forgiveness.

post signature

meaty Lasagna

I made P-Dubs lasagna! You know what, it was very similar to the one my mom has always made, and that I loved as a kid. Instead of ricotta, she uses a cottage cheese, egg, and herb blend. Not sure why I ever stopped making that recipe. Maybe I thought I would get all fancy and use ricotta. Or maybe I just like to eat spoonfuls of ricotta cheese while I make my lasagna. Well, whatever the reason, I think I will go back to my old ways....because this lasagna ROCKED!

Cottage cheese mixture is easy to whip together.

This is recipe is full of MEAT....it will definitely put put some hair on your chest. And she uses whole canned tomatos and lots of tomato paste, makes for a very hearty thick sauce....like I said some hair on your chest!

WOW! Look at that don't I just have it all together there. My lasagna assemble line.

Yyyyeh.....not really. If you look at the dish I started to assemble my lasagna in and the one it ended up in are two different dishes. The first one was not quite big enough. Dag-nab-it! I did my very impressive lasagna flip trick! It's really very easy...but please don't try it at home. It could result in massive amounts of meaty red sauce all over your kitchen.

So there you have it another heart in my cookbook, another recipe devoured by my family and my mother-n-law too! Everyone gave it a thumbs up!

post signature

January 22, 2010

Disappearing Banana Cake

This recipe is compliments of one of my oldest daughters BFF's. It's in our school cookbook. It is so good it literally disappear at our house! I think the secret is the sour cream. I'm telling you sour cream and cream cheese make the world go around!

Sour Cream Banana Bread
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3-4 mashed bananas, approx. 1cup
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans
*** our favorite is 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips ****

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the 9x13 pan, or if you want to do it in a loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs and mix well. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; combine with the butter mixture. Add the bananas, sour cream , and vanilla; mix well. Fold in the nuts or chips if you choose to add them. (you will be your kids FAVE if you add the chocolate chips!) Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
We have failed to follow the cool down step, and burned our mouths on this treat....so proceed with caution if you choose to do the same!

post signature

January 21, 2010

Egg Rolls can solve ALL our problems!

Yes, I have discovered that egg rolls are the answer to all our problems, and maybe yours too, at least for one night! Besides the fried part, egg rolls are really pretty nutritious. And if you fry them quick and let them drain on paper towels, I bet the amount of grease is minuscule. That's what I am telling myself anyway. So here is the skinny on these delites!

They do take a bit of forethought. Just like any problem solving you need to think it through, make some preparations, and then throw it in the hot oil and hope for the best!

EGG ROLL Ingredients
3 cups of chicken, shrimp, scallops one or all the skies the limit and you can leave the meat and add more vegis if you want
1 Tblsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup diced onion
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms sliced and diced into small pieces
1 cup of shredded carrot
1 cup of shredded broccoli stem/cabbage blend
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup green onion finely sliced
1 can of water chestnuts chopped fine
1 package egg roll wrappers (you can find them in the produce section, in my neck of the woods anyway)
oil for frying

I used shrimp and scallops because I had left over in the freezer from our Christmas Fondue party. I sauteed them in a pan with vegetable oil, then took them out with a slotted spoon and added the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and let cook through for just a minute while I diced up the shrimp/scallop into small pieces.

Add the shrimp back into the pan and heat through, 3minutes tops! Then add your mushrooms, let these cook down for 2 minutes. Carrots and shredded broccoli blend to follow, toss around for a few minutes you just want this to heat through. You don't want to loose the crunchiness of the vegis.

Take off the heat and add the soy sauce and toss this around well too. At this point you could put it in the fridge and make it the next day. Whatever you do you DO want it to cool down before you have to wrap up your egg rolls if its too hot the juices with just melt the egg roll wrappers.

Look at that! They are so happy their hangin' out side ways!

Just before you start to wrap the little dudes up you need to add the water chestnuts and the green onion and the red pepper flakes. Then you can get yourself a slotted spoon so any juices drip off before you place it on the wrapper.


step 2

step 3-tuck in the sides, just like you are doing a babies diaper...do any of you remember cloth diapers?....am I dating myself? Okay, just tuck in the sides people!

step 4- you will need a small dish of water near by to dip your finger in and wet down the top triangle of the wrapper so that it sticks.

step 5- now take it home, roll that baby up!

Here is where it gets iffy, I put about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of my dutch oven and got it hot. How hot? I don't really know so it was bubbling a bit when I tossed a drop of water in there. Just a drop mind you! Then I carefully placed them in the pan, when they looked like they were well browned I turned them and let them get nice and crisp on the other side. Using tongs I lifted them out and let them drain a second, before putting on paper towel to drain. If you have a wok AWESOME for you! I don't so my big O dutch oven works just fine.

I did not serve these with anything...loser mom. But you could make some rice, or a nice green salad with a thai peanut dressing. We had soccer and lots of homework tonight so it was egg roll throw down the gullet night.

This one got a big THUMBS UP by my 13 year old.