February 27, 2010

Mocha Brownies

I LOVE BROWNIES. I know I have said that I love flowers, but have I told you that I LOVE brownies. I am picky about my brownies, however. I don't just waste my calories on any ol' brownie. These of course are fantabulous! I was skeptical about the frosting, but it has coffee in it so, aaah yeh, need I say more?

My first clue that these would be amazingly rich and fudgey was that they had lots of chocolate in them, not just cocoa powder. And the fact that Ree's direction had me melting the unsweetened chocolate in the microwave.....that I didn't have to pull out my double boiler was heavenly.

I made a double batch! The recipe called for an 8x8 pan...come on Ree honey..you know that ain't enough brownies! Well, and we are going skiing with friends tomorrow so I need to bring some to share! I think these will be the perfect energy food for the slopes!

By the way I had to go get myself some new ski pants today because the ones I have are too SMALL! OH my GOODNESS gracious....the Ree project is catching up to my waistline!!!! My jeans still fit, not well but I have not had to go out and buy new yet. I bought me some of those stretchy ski pants...good for eating Mocha brownies in.

Thanks to Stephanie below we now have a link to the brownies! Thanks Girlfriend!I really, really wish with all my heart I could give every one of you a copy of this cookbook. It is truly that good!

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February 25, 2010

busy nite SLOPPY joes

Tonight is one of those everything is happening on the same night, nights. My oldest has an orchestra concert, middle son indoor soccer game, me I'm going to Faith House fundraising event, and Kenny is working! Ok you go with Grandma and Grandpa, you go with friends to game, I will go to event by myself, and girls well you stay home and take notes on American Idol! What to eat...what to feed my family quick, quick.....

Sloppy Joes
2 lbs ground beef lean browned
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 can tomato soup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried mustard or 1 tablespoon regular mustard from the fridge
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Natures Seasoning salt (Mortons)

this is so easy just brown your meat and onion together throw in the rest of the ingredients cook over low-med heat for 15 to 20 minutes serve on a bun or over bread if you don't have buns. Top with cheese if you like, we are having potato chips with our meal tonight FANCY! I know, hang on to your hats.

To be honest my kids groan at this meal, but they eat it, cause I make them. "It's this or you starve people!" Once they dig in there is really no complaints so go figure!?

Have a good night,

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A 'Pioneer Woman' Prepares a Feast

Will wonders never cease! Here it is if you missed it this morning.....
Not sure about that title up there...I'm not gonna mess with it. It just popped up that way, so I'm gonna leave it...what ever amp apos means. Maybe it means yummy, yummy in Latin...

gOOd Mornin' P-Dub!

Today one of favorite peeps is going to be on Good Morning America. THE PIONEER WOMAN,Ree Drummond AAAHH! I am so nervous for her. My chest feels tight. I am drinking insane amounts of coffee, I haven't showered, my T.V. is blaring and my dishwasher is hanging open.

I will try to get a one of those film clip thingys on here later, in case you miss it. It might take me a couple weeks, because I am technologically challenged....I will try my best for sooner rather than later.

I gotta go, she is on RIGHT NOW making pot roast, and mocha brownies!!!

Okay I'm back, they had her there for a minute and now she's gone. At a time like this I wish I twittered, I would be twittering my buns off about P-Dub on GMA! And annoying the heck out of everyone, in the process!

Jerry Bruckheimer is on GMA today! And Ree is a HUGE movie freak! I bet she is peeing herself! Geez when I was in the studio audience of GMA NO body was on there, it was the most boring morning on GMA in the history of GMA! Well, I am happy for Ree she deserves this, YOU GO GIRL! I'm sweating for you!

Okay I was wrong Jer wasn't on there. FALSE alarm, it was just a feature segment. I'm a wreck....OH they just gave her a few seconds...she's cutting pot roast! Looking beautiful, and I see no rings-o-fire! Maybe I really am doing all the sweatin' for her!


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February 24, 2010

some STUFF

Here are a few things I felt like I needed to share with you...

1. I have been throwing away free cups of coffee from Starbucks! For how long...I am not sure. Probably for longer than I want to know. Yes, if you turn in your empty bag from your coffee to a Starbucks they will give you a free 12oz brewed coffee! WOW is that not spectacular? Hoping you knew this one already, and I am the last person to know and not the first. The thought of all those free coffees going in the garbage makes me cry...

2. My dog Jackie, Doots, Buddy, Doodles, pick a name, is doing better. He ate and drank something and hasn't puked in 4 hours. Hallelujah!

3. I ate Sushi with my sweet sister today. As I am working on an upcoming Sushi project...thus the poll on the right there. Yes, please participate in the poll. It would be much appreciated! OOooh it was so good. But I ate so much I feel like a puffer fish.....and now am not in the mood to make my kiddos dinner. Chips and cheese anyone?

4. I had a fasting blood work today. My doctor ordered it 4 months ago. It was painless. It's not the needles that scare me...it was the FASTING that scared the bejeebies out of me! I made it! I didn't even faint from hypoglycemia, which I have never done, but there is always a first!

5. Thought I would share with you my apple peeling skills. That there comes from years of helping my mom make applesauce! ONE piece sister...I'm not bragging. I'm just proud of myself....

6. Sorry that apple thing was really random. Maybe you will like this one better. We love Ovaltine! We make malteds nearly every night with the stuff. Did you know it has 8 vitamins and minerals! And yes, I often open my ice cream from the bottom. Why? Because I am a loon, and do this sort of silly thing often.

7. Can you believe all this stuff? This was in my "junk" drawer, the one in my kitchen, underneath where my phone is. That's where yours is too right? A string, a piece of a branch, a weird pig barrette( nobody has worn barrettes in this house for years!) Then there's that tube spray thing there, see it? It's green....

Kenny quite often brings stuff like this home from conferences or meetings. Reps from medical type companies have all kinds of goodies to give away. Well one day he had been at some sort of meeting thing-a-ma-jigger and he came home with all kinds of "stuff" for the kids. Pens, tote bags, pads of paper and these green tubular things. One of the kids asked what they were, and Kenny replied "breath freshener". "Oh", I thought to myself that's a new one. Now they"re getting really creative with their marketing efforts these days.

Needless to say it was dinner time and I shooed everyone away from the goodies and to the dinner table...where all the loot was quickly forgotten. Until.....a couple days later Cece our littlest said "mama, what happened to those breath squirter things that daddy brought home?"
I went and dug all the stuff out of hiding and grabbed one of the "breath fresheners" opened it up and gave myself a BIG O SQUIRT, right in the pie hole.


"What the heck??!!!"

It was hand sanitizer!!!!! And YES I took my husbands word for it and NEVER looked at the small print. AAARRG....so glad my chitlins didn't go squirtin that down their throats!

8. One last thing and I will stop.....my son loves his guinea pig so much

he studies with him. Smitty that little pig...if he could talk, I'm sure he would knock your socks off with his knowledge of the different Indian tribes of Michigan!

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Note to SELF

Ugh! Is it the middle of winter blues, hormones, only 6 hours of sleep, possible all of the above combined with a puking dog. Look at him...poor dude! Or Doots as he is lovingly referred to. Real name Jack but he is rarely called by that name since he lives in the "House of Nicknames".

Note to self: NEVER ever dump your grease from frying chicken within the perimeters of a dogs invisible fence. Actually this should read note to HUSBAND. I'll give it to him it's cold, the snow is "kinda" deep. So why wade to the edge of the yard to dump the grease in the woods, lets just dump it on the edge of the driveway where the dog can snack on it.

Oh, I am POSITIVE this was delicious going down, but now my poor Doots is having a very bad chicken grease hang over. And, I of course knowing nearly nothing about the dogs, am wondering could he die? Can a dog die from chicken grease overdose? Maybe I should google this....or Ask Jeeves it or snicker doodle it or something. I just wish he could tell me..."it's okay lady, I'm feelin better than last night" or "OH DEAR GOD take me to the doggie hospital NOW!". Who knows what's going on in his Doodle brain (another name he goes by).

I am pretty sure he is thinking "Why woman must you take pictures of me?", "My eyes are boogery, my fur is greasy, and my mouth tastes like cat poo. Please go..lady please go." So I will leave him..and go to "ask Jeeves" what to do for a dog that O.D. on chicken frying grease.

Bon Appetit'!

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February 23, 2010

You can't judge a PIE by it's CRUST

"Epic Disaster", that's what my eleven year old said P-Dubs Flat Apple Pie was! But then after she tasted it she said "you can't judge a pie by it's crust, I guess."

I made a slew of recipes from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook and invited our Fab friends the Fribergs over to help us eat!

Look Kenny is cracking himself up! Or maybe he's sayin' "Dang what a lucky man I am to eat a feast like this.". Yep! I think that's what he was saying...

Menu: Fried Chicken, P-Dubs mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, homemade ranch and iceberg salad, flat apple pie, made with the "perfect" pie crust, and corn. (I can't eat mashed potatoes with out corn, it's like....bread with out butter, pancakes with out syrup, a day with out coffee....well you get what I'm saying.)

Demetria had never fried chicken before, so I waited till she got here to do a "chicken fryin" demo. Wanted them to get the full on grease filled house affect. It's marvelous. And as my hood over my stove is on the "fritz" (I always think that saying is HILARIOUS, because Fritz was my maiden name!), so every few minutes the fan on my hood would stop and I would have to do the "Arthur Fonzerelli" and hit the stove hood with my fist and it would pop back on. "Hehhhh".

I don't think I am the best teacher..."how do you know when it's done?" says Demetria, "um, you can just kinda tell, when its brown enough," says I. "oh" says she, with a bewildered look upon her face....

I think fried chicken is like pie crust, the more you make it the better feel you get for it. It just takes practice. The problem is you don't really want to practice making fried chicken or pie crust to terribly often, or you may end up looking like this....

Oh MY goodness how did a picture of my laundry room get in here??? That's embarrassing....well so was the picture I meant to have show up...I guess it's all for the best. Because I REALLY do want you to try frying chicken...and well, you might not of if you would have seen the picture I found...YIKERS! We'll save that one for another day. Just use your imagination. And then please try to imagine a laundry room sparkling clean and void of piles of never ending laundry.

Maybe we should back up a bit....

Here's the Smart chicken that I bought at D&W Fresh Market. It's the good stuff. The real kind of chicken that walked around and did it's little chicken thing before ending up in my frying pan. I like that. He got to live his little chicken life to the fullest. Not the dark, over-crowded, antibiotic fed existence most of our chicken dinners lead before ending up on our tables. Yeh, so this is where our meal all started...

With the chicken.

Not the egg.

Enough about the chicken, lets talk about this homemade ranch dressing of P-Dubs! One word YOWZA! I have been eating this on everything. It is so delicious I don't think I will ever be able to enjoy any other ranch dressing again! I loved it so much I AM going to give you the recipe. Instead of making you go to The Pioneer Woman's site.

Homemade Ranch Dressing
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
dash of hot sauce
**note I used the freeze dried parsley and dill and they worked great
Mix all the above together refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving and then eat with a big spoon....or you could drizzle it on iceberg lettuce. I thought it was fabulous on the tomatoes!

Buttermilk biscuits. I grew up on these things. I loved the honey butter. It's just equal parts honey to softened butter. We usually just spread the butter on and then drizzle the honey over and eat them like dessert! Mixing the honey and butter is a bit more civilized, I suppose.

Sorry we are back at the chicken again...but it was sooo gooood..

Empty plates to prove it!

I think my engineering minded son was attempting to build something with his chicken bones.

And here we are right back where we started... the Flat Apple Pie. I thought maybe this was a better angle. It definitely did not look like my usual apple pie and it looked nothing like Ree's from her cookbook. But it tasted good and nearly every morsel was eaten. So truly you cannot judge a pie by it's crust!

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February 21, 2010

cOOkie dOugh

This Saturday I made P-Dubs Angel Sugar Cookies, as a treat for my kids at home and my kids at church. Every week I bring the Jr. High kids a big-ol' carafe of hot chocolate and a treat. Usually purchased from the store, but this week I thought what the heck...I'll bake the rascals somethin'. BUT I had one problem.............

that blasted finger of mine kept scooping dough off the beater and heading right toward my "pie hole". I had absolutely no control over it! It's really sort of embarrassing. I usually nab a few bits of cookie dough here and there as I am baking cookies, but this was obscene! I can't believe I actually ended up with enough cookies for a plate to leave at home and a plate for church. Well, you know when mom starts digging into the dough that makes it hard to say no to the kiddos...Cece also played a major part in the disappearing dough.

Ree had a disclaimer in her cookbook that these do not travel well because they are very delicate and crumbly. Which is true, but they made it just fine to my Jr. high friends. I would say be careful, as with any cookie NOT to over bake. Take them out before they look done, if you think "aaah maybe they should stay in another minute and get a tad bit browner..well then STOP right there and take the cookies out of the oven. Let them finish baking on the cookie sheet as they cool. Unless, of course, you like nearly burned cookies(like my dad), then disregard everything I just said in the last two sentences.

This is getting boring, I know...we gave these a thumbs up. Every single dad-burned person liked these cookies. Pioneer Woman strikes again! You are probably hoping for a recipe disaster. Waiting for one of P-Dubs recipes to just stink. It would add a bit a excitement to my blog wouldn't it.

Yeah, well stay tuned for my next post "You can't judge a pie by its crust!". The original title that my oldest daughter thought appropriate was "Epic Disaster"...whoa now that was a bit dramatic so we will stick with the first title.

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February 18, 2010

Penne ala Betsy

41 days to go. 34 recipes to make yet....I decided maybe I should make my self a list...so I can see the whole picture...with out flipping through The Pioneer Woman Cooks for the 80millionth time..yes a list was a good idea. So it will be hung up on the wall by the microwave by my cookbooks...right where I can see it, and it can see me. Yes, the time is finally drawing near I am 1/2 way done with my Sheila and Ree Project.

No offense Ree but this has really been enjoyable and easy. I have loved or at least liked everything I have made so far. It's no wonder you are a star Lady! This cook book ROCKS. And I absolutely cannot wait to give it away to one of you crazy people, I love, that read this....PLEASE don't leave me once I am done with this project...I don't know what I will do with out you. Sorry it's getting late and I am gettin sappy.

OK let's get crazy....how about I will give you 1 extra entry for every new person that you get to comment on my blog and 5 entries for every person that you persuade to become a follower. Hey! post a link to Strawberry Cake on your face book and and I will give you another 5. Wowza! Now we're talking.

Tonight I made Ree's sister Betsy's Pasta dish. I had helpers....Cece helped me take the tales off the shrimp (only a few were eaten in the process), Ainslie helped me make the sauce....patience, patience. This was my daily dose of patience making a fine, yummy sauce with an eleven year old. HOLY COW!

Pasta Ala Betsy is a creamy tomato sauce with shrimp and basil, my kiddos chowed it!

Then for dessert I made Patsy's Blackberry Cobbler...but I used blueberry's from my freezer fresh picked from a Michigan blueberry patch. I was fearful to feed my family the "fresh" blackberries that are in the produce section right now... yikes people, I think I would rather wait for the farmers market in July. I wasn't really a recipe rebel in this instance because Ree's recipe states that you can use blueberries too! Woo HOO!

This is not the cobbler I grew up on, but it was very yummy! And EZ! I would definitely try it again, but next time I will rebel and sprinkle some cinnamon in there!

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February 17, 2010

where Oh where have I been EATING?

The truth is I feel like I have been eating at home ALOT! TOO much! I like to cook, but I LOVE to eat out! I guess I have nothing to complain about I have been out a time or two recently. And I would love to share with you what I found.

Bangkok Taste-Thai Restaurant

616-667-8901, 674 Baldwin St, Jenison, MI
I have to tell you, this was not the first time we have come to this restaurant. Nor the last. We have been coming here since I can remember, and it just keeps getting better. They have updated the decor in the past couple years, making for a very warm atmosphere despite the drab strip mall location. This is a family owned and run restaurant. Mom, daughters and we believe Papa is in the back cooking, but have never seen him.....he is a mystery.

This is one of the places that we frequent because of the warm smiling faces that greet us ALWAYS, and how welcoming they are to our larger family. The food is consistently yummy.

I love the Curry Pad Thai. My children all love the Chicken Satay(marinated chicken skewers served with a peanut sauce, that my kids fight over) and the Sesame Chicken, which is crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of spice. My spice loving boys are ALL about that! We also always order the Tom Qha Gai soup which has a limey, spicy flavor with I am guessing coconut milk....we order it with chicken. It is the perfect soup to clear out your sinuses! I would recommend you try this little jewel of a restaurant in Jenison.
Bangkok Taste = THUMBS UP and double thumbs up because it's and easy place to bring the kids.

City Vu Bistro
61 E. 7th St, Holland Mi.
The City Vu Bistro is located at the top of the City Flats Hotel in Holland. And does it ever have a "Vu". We were there at night, but it is still beautiful to look out over all the lights and the snow coming down. Nothing like being at a restaurant that is up off the ground to add a little romance. City Flats/City Vu Bistro is a LEED Gold certified building. Which means in mommy speak, it's GREEN, or it's environmentally a good place to eat some food! The whole feel of the building is Scandinavian to me. Very minimal in decor and furnishing, but warm at the same time.

The Menu is also very clean and straight forward. Their specialty is flat breads, they featured 14 different flat breads. We had wimpy appetites this particular evening so we shared the Philly. Which had loads of steak, and caramelized onions on it, with a blue cheese sauce, on a whole wheat flat bread. It was a MAN sized portion for sure! OH but I forgot to tell you we started with a bottle of vino and the cheese and fruit platter, which they brought with out the crackers....ooops! Our waitress recovered well and had them there in a jiffy! "Nah, we don't need crackers we'll just eat these hunks of cheese." (sarcasm). There IS a method to our madness, we split a flat bread and an appetizer so we would have room to each get our own dessert!

Did I ever tell you that Kenny and I absolutely do NOT, never EVER, split dessert! Unless, one of us is not feeling well....then maybe. But that hasn't happened since 1993. We thought we would be all cute, and romantic and split a piece of ooohey, goey, chocolate cake. Well, I looked away for a nano second and when I looked back, it was GONE. THE CAKE WAS gone! And there sat my formerly sexy, cute boyfriend tipping the plate at a 30 degree angle and scraping it with his fork....Uh yeah...not so sexy, or cute. HOG! From then on I vowed to get my own dessert or no dessert at all! I think our dessert was the best part of the whole meal. It was FABULOUS! And they served us French press coffee. Ohh-lala I do like me some French pressed coffee! I ordered the carrot cake with the warm cream cheese frosting and HOG ordered the Mocha Chocolate cake which was very rich and moist. But we both decided that if you come you MUST try the Carrot Cake. It is 2die4!

Once when this hotel just opened, Kenny and I came out and had a "little" get away just the two of us a whole 25 minutes from home! Hey, you take what you can get right. And we are very thankful to have places so close by that we can go to and feel like we have "gotten away" It was very peaceful and a short walk to all that downtown Holland has to offer...shopping, coffee, brew pub, Irish Pub, you name. You should try it sometime. Then if Junior gets sick and you need to buzz home quick no biggy!

They do have a kids menu if you want to bring your kiddos, but this is a restaurant I am going to keep for adult eating. The prices were very reasonable: lite plate prices $6-14, 14 choices of flatbreads (fancy pizzas)$9-14 and these are enough food to share, they also had a entree choices the most expensive being the NY Strip for $21. A great choice of wines and their Olympic themed specials looked awesome! So go with your Honey or a bunch of friends and try it out and let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for more of the places I've eaten....

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February 15, 2010

pizza PARTY!

Pizza and Parties seem to go together when you have kids. It's something they all like, well except for one kid, but we banned him from our house. "WHAT you don't like pizza? GET OUT and never come back!" Just kidding we would never say that to a kid, I was tempted though. I have to admit I was a bit freaked out by a kid that won't eat pizza....but he was a good kid, so we let him stick around.
Back to the pizza party.....we have four kids and most of our friends have at least three so if we have one family over there's twelve, two families we are potentially pushing twenty...I know my math skills are impeccable! We could order pizza out, but I have found it more fun and easier to please adults and kids if I do a pizza bar. I make all the mini pizza crusts ahead of time. Then I cut up everything imaginable that a human would put on their pizza. I whip up a batch of my super-duper easy pizza sauce. I ask the dinner guests to bring a nice leafy green salad or a dessert. And then it's a PARTEEEEEEE!

Super-duper Easy Pizza Sauce
**note this makes a large amount, enough to freeze for future parties
3 28oz. cans crushed tomato's, if you like a chunkier sauce you can substitute 1 of the cans with diced tomatoes.
1 big can of tomato paste :P
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

These are the "sorta" secret ingredients..."sorta" because they probably aren't that surprising. Red pepper flakes, depending on your taste...I use 1/2 teaspoon, and 2 heaping tablespoons of sugar. If you like your sauce spicier use more, if you like it sweeter add more sugar. Get crazy!

directions: I start by heating the oil in a sauce pan with the garlic, let it saute for just a minute, be careful not to burn the garlic....so stay right there. Don't leave it and go wipe your kids bottom or anything, that can wait. So now after you give the garlic a minute add the paste and stir so the garlic is mixed well with the paste, then add cans of tomatoes. Stir, add salt, sugar and red pepper flakes. Cook this on low for a good hour or more, stir often if you have a bad pan that burns stuff, stir once or twice if you have a awesome pan. This sauce freezes well, it's great for bread stick dipping, and if you want to make spaghetti a day or two later you can use it as your starter add meat and Italian seasoning and Voila!, you have spaghetti.

Pizza Dough - preheat oven to 450

This is the dough that I buy in my grocers freezer section. Sometimes I make my own and I will give you that easy bread machine recipe another day. For now go buy some, it's nearly as good and easier.

Now cut that wad of dough into 4ths or 6ths depending on how small you want your pizzas. If you are having a lot of little kiddos I would do 6ths, adults and bigger kids 4ths work good.

Now you can just put a bit of olive oil on your hands and gradually work it into a pizza round from the middle out, be gentle, not too aggressive you will just rip it and spend all your time patching your holey pizza doughs

Now place those babies on a cookie sheets and bake for 5 minutes you just want them to begin to bake, this makes for a crispier crust.

Look at all those nice blank canvases, just waiting for your friends to get all creative on them! I usually do this a day or two ahead of time. And any crusts that are left over I freeze to pull out whenever, and make a quick pizza or flat bread.

Now I have to admit, this looks a bit lame. I usually have a few more. It depends on the crowd. If I have more adults then I do more fun toppings, if its more kids like it was this night I could have just stuck ham and pepperonis out there.

Here is a list to help you with ideas if you need...sausage (already browned), hamburger(already browned), diced ham, roasted chicken, pepperoni, red/green pepper, onions, broccoli, fresh basil, tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, olives, roast garlic, mozzarella cheese, Mexican blend cheese. The sky is the limit! I also put a jar of my favorite Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue sauce out there, for crazies like myself that like a barbecue chicken pizza.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza = first barbecue sauce, then chicken, red pepper, onions, Mexican blend of cheese or pepper jack is good too! YOWza I love this pizza!

So there it is the party in action. I line it up on my bar. Salad, crusts, sauces, toppings at the end the pans to put them on and into the ovens at 450 degrees. If its summer these are also fantastic on the grill!


I usually bake up some bread sticks using one of the pizza doughs, to keep the hungry natives quiet while their pizzas are baking. Just take the dough, brush a couple tablespoons of melted butter on there, sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese bake until brown and bubbly, cut into strips and serve to as people are making their pizzas.

I hope you have fun with this party. It is ALWAYS a hit with our family and friends, I have done this meal no less than a dozen times, with any where from 10 to 25 people. It's easy to do nearly everything ahead of time, so there is no stress the day of!

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February 14, 2010

Valentines Day Giveaway WINNER!

AND THE WINNER IS................Hillary Murphy! Hillary you are the very first giveaway winner on Strawberry Cake! You go GIRL! WOOOOHOOOO! YahhhOOOO! YIppeee! I am so happy for you. Check your email dear. I feel like I just gave away a million bucks. I WISH! It took my team of statisticians a few minutes to arrive at the winner. I pay these guys the big bucks mind you.

It was fun for me to see what movies you all listed. The Titanic was mentioned a few times, as well as The Notebook. Some old ones I kind of forgot about and need to watch again, like Officer and a Gentleman. Then some interesting choices....Pee Wees Big Adventure, um OK.

Kenny and I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding the other night. Oh my goodness, that movie is SO funny! So many things I forgot about her crazy family. So make yourself some chips and cheese tonight and hunker down with your honey and watch a romantic movie and smooch!

Hoping you have a wonderfully, relaxing, romantic Valentines Day with your loved ones! LuvYA!

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February 12, 2010


If you are around me very much, or if you have read my blog long, you have seen me wear my Pioneer Woman T-shirt. I love it! And I love the makers of my P-Dub t-shirt even MORE! WILD OLIVE TEES is a company run by three moms that are putting their gifts to work and blessing so many people! These woman are awesome! They have designed the coolest t-shirt to benefit Haiti. 100% of the proceeds go to Eyes Wide Open International. Please go to their site and check them out. Did I say these aren't just any old bulky tees? Well they are not, they are nice and long and fit perfectly, with cute lil' sleeves. OK, now GO click on them!

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Little Mexico, we've missed you SO!

I hope you all have a restaurant somewhere you can call home. That place you can go and just feel comfy. Where you know exactly what you are gonna order, don't even have to look at the menu. Now I like to try new places, but I also like to go somewhere that I don't have to think. Especially when I am with my kids.

My "home" restaurant is Little Mexico, they serve Mexican food.....uh-duh. September 8, 2008 my cousin Caryn's birthday! Sorry Caryn I am hoping that this was not some sort of "sign" for you. (Because this is also Caryn's favorite place!) The Joint burned down!!!!! Yes, Caryn was even supposed to eat there for her birthday dinner. And they had an electrical fire and burned to the ground! My heart is heavy just writing about it, especially because my poor cousin Caryn had to eat at the Kopper Top instead...YIKES!

So short story LONG, we have been with out our beloved restaurant for 18 long months!! But, yes I said but. They reopened yesterday after many annoying delays, and a stalker number of drive bys from ME! My kids wanted me to take them out of school yesterday so we could be one of the first to be there when they opened. I didn't......which now I am regretting and probably will till the day I die.

Now I know that you probably have your favorite Mexican restaurant...but you know what? I don't want to know about it! Sorry. I have tried many in the last 18 months believe me and none quite have done it for me. So today I am doing the #13 dance of JOY, because tomorrow I will be ordering my #13 dinner, enchiladas with poblano sauce. 2DIE4! Please tell me they didn't change the menu....

If you are in the Grand Rapids, Mi area and you have never checked out Little Mexico, give it a try. And if you don't live in my neck of the woods, then I hope you enjoyed my lil' story about MY restaurant reopening! Hopefully you have a Little Mexico in your life!

Little Mexico
401 Stocking Ave NW
Grand Rapids Mi

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February 10, 2010

Chocolate Lovers BEware!

If you read my post on Nutella a while back you will remember I promised to figure out the chocolate purse recipe that Giada De Laurentiis raved about on the Foodnetwork show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". After several attempt at this recipe I think I have it down. It's hard to know, because I have not tasted the original that Giada was so crazy about. But this is pretty darn decedant. So if you LOVE chocolate and you want to make something yummy and sexy for your honey on Valentines day then this is IT!

Here are the main players in this recipe. I have to say a few things first before I give you the low-down on how to create this yummy package. First of all, I started out by making a flourless chocolate cake and using that as the treat in the purse, but it was alot of work and the brownie mix was the more popular choice by the judges. Also I did a moderate search in my area for hazelnuts and came up with nothin'! I felt like I was in Germany looking for peanuts! I think chopped up hazelnuts would definetly put this over the edge...so even though I did not use them I am adding them into the recipe.

So here is my interpretation of Giada's fave "chocolate purse". Depending on how many you need to make you will most likely have some brownie mix left over, put it in a pan and bake it up or use your mini muffin tins and make bite sized treats.

1 package double chocolate brownie mix, like Ghirardellis
1 egg
1/3 cup vegatable oil
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts PER chocolate purse
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
fillo dough 2 half sheets per purse
*you will also need parchment paper, cooking type string(for lack of a better word!)
medium sized melon baller scooper thingy and a pastry brush

1. preheat oven to 325. Start by making your brownie mix. No need for a mixer just get out a bowl and an old fashioned wire whisk. Add the egg, water and oil.

2. Next you want to take two sheets of your thawed fillo dough(where I come from, you only get this stuff in the freezer section) cut them in half like so..so you have two sets of two 1/2 sheets, get it!

3. Now you need to take 1 tablespoon of butter and melt it in your microwave. Now brush a light coat of butter over the top sheet of fillo. Like so....

4. now you need to take your scooper and get 1 good scoop of the brownie dough and set it right down in the middle of the fillo.

5. now for the piece de resistance', sorry I sometime think I can speak French when I am writing about food...Voila! Add a teaspoon full of Nutella right on the top of that dough! This is the point where I would have sprinkled 1/2 tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts on the inside...so do that if you are so lucky to have found the lil' buggers. (the other 1/2 tablespoon will be reserved for the garnish at the end)

Here it comes...do I here a oooh aaah?

6. Now for the semi-hard part. I actually had a few casualties before I got it right so hang in there... now you need to pull the fillo pastry up around the dough in a manner that leaves no big gaps for the chocolate to pour out.



Now take your string and tie loosely so you can take it off easily before you dig in. I don't want you choking on string...it might ruin the "moment"!

7. give them a little brush with butter and put in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown. Some of the chocolate will ooze out that's ok it did on the Foodnetwork too.

Nutella Ganache
Take 2 tablespoons of nutella and 1 tablespoon butter, put them in a a container you can pour from....like a glass measuring cup, now melt in microwave for 15 seconds NO more! Take a fork or a small whisk and blend the nutella and butter together now add a dash of heavy whip cream just enough to make it the right consistency to drizzle on your plate.

After melting nutella and butter together add the whipping cream, whisk together...

drizzle in any fashion you like...

Now sprinkle the hazelnuts on there and set your purse down on top of that yummy Nutellalicious ganache. You should wait at least 5 minutes to eat after you take it out to the oven, but don't wait too long, you want it to be warm and oohee-goey.

WARNING this dessert is not for the light of heart, when it comes to chocolate. It is crazy rich and could cause seizure like symptoms...rolling back of eyes in head, tossing back of the head, arms flailing out to the sides. Be prepared.

Happy Valentines Day!

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