Thursday, March 27, 2014

throwback thursday.. carrot cake w/cream cheese frosting and pineapple flowers..

 today's throwback thursday is from easter a few years ago.. it was before i tagged my photos and what not!! this cake was so fun to make and was my first time making a layered cake like this.. not to mention the cake tasted devine.. i got a lot of emails about people and their pineapple flowers not coming out :( i am not sure why they didn't work, they worked perfect for me!! hopefully if you try it they work for you too..

now i am not much of a baker at all and i had never actually frosted a cake and cared if it looked pretty ha.. i had to watch a video on how to do it!! pete was laughing at me.. i was so nervous.. but then i watched this here.. so i suggest if you have qualms about frosting a cake check out the video or google "how to frost/ice a layered cake" and tons of videos and articles will pop up.. :)

the pineapple flowers came from cruising pinterest one day.. i saw a picture of them and thought that can't be a pineapple.. then when i saw the step by step instructions here.. i realized they are incredibly easy and soo pretty!!

carrot cake {totally inspired by: this recipe.. }

prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes
servings: 10


2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. course salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar {funny story about the phrase "packed" brown niece who is right after she was married and was expecting her first child called her dad and was in the baking isle of vons and was just exasperated.. "Dad!! I see dark brown sugar and light brown sugar but not 'packed' brown sugar I've been to 3 stores..what am i going to do?"  needless to say my brother in law barely could answer he was giggling so hard!!}
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of water
1 lb. carrots {8-10 medium} peels and shredded on a box grader or in a food processor {i opted for the food processor}
cream cheese frosting {recipe below}
pineapple flowers for garnish {recipe below}

preheat your oven to 350 degrees (f). butter or spray pam in three 9 inch round cake pans. line bottoms with parchment paper and then butter or spray it with pam.. dust with flour, tapping out excess..{ok i had never heard of the parchment paper step and wow it's genius those puppies popped right out no muss no fuss!} whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.

beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. beat about 3 minutes.. add vanilla, water and carrots.. beat until well combined.. about 2 more minutes.. reduce speed to flow and gradually add flour mixture..

scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly.  bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.. let cool in pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.. run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn our cakes onto rack... turn right side up and let cool completely..

using a serrated knife, trim round top of a one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter.. spread a light coat of frosting over cake.. top with the second trimmed cake.. cut side down..spread another light coat of frosting on top of that layer.. then top with remaining cake.. spreading a light coat of over the top and sides.. then place in fridge for 15 minutes.. this will help with any crumbs.. then remove from fridge and frost entire cake..  place back in the fridge for another 15 minutes then decorate with pineapple flowers..

cream cheese frosting
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package/block of cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes...reduce speed to low. add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla and lemon juice; mix until smooth..

pineapple flowers

the step by step instructions are again found here.. i did mine a little differently in that i actually cooked mine in the oven for 2 hours rather than 1 and once in the muffin tins i put back in the oven which had just been turned off and left them in the off oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.. so a total of 3 hours.. and don't be discouraged if when slicing you get 1/2 slices or not very circular ones.. those are the ones i think make the best flowers.. also i used a mandolin on the the thinnest setting.. but if yours come out to thick cook them longer.. eventually they will dry up and start to curl.. they are very delicate on the edges and they break easy so be careful.. don't use foil they stick to it and you can't get them off.. :/ use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat..
the cake was really moist and so delicious :)

 enjoy and get cook'n!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

take my word for it wednesday.. "fried" cabbage is the best way to cook cabbage!!

today is wednesday and it's where i ask you to trust me.. to please take my word for it.. trust me this is the best way to cook cabbage!!
a few weekends ago for st. patty's day i made corned beef, mashed taters and this cabbage here..very simple.. but ohh so good!! i love to serve this cabbage dish whenever i make anything pork..
it looks like a lot but it wilts down to a manageable portion.. for many many years.. i disliked cooked cabbage... probably because the only way i had ever been served it was boiled.. and well that didn't appeal to me at all.. nothing about it was appetizing.. then a good 15 years ago my mom was reading one of suzanne sommers cook books and came across a recipe similar to this one.. she shared it with me and well ever since i have been hooked on cabbage.. i made this recipe one time many years ago and my nephew ben stopped by and i made him a little plate.. he said it might have been the best thing he ever ate.. ha.. i am not sure about that but it is pretty darn good!!

"fried" cabbage

prep time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time: 30-40 minutes
servings: 6-8


3 slices of bacon, cut unto small lardons {if you don't want to use bacon i make all the time with about a tablespoon of olive oil..}
salt to taste
2 tsp. of pepper {or more.. i love the peppery taste with the cabbage}
1 head purple cabbage, cored and sliced
1 head of green cabbage, cored and sliced


in a large heavy bottom pan over medium high heat cook the bacon until just before crispy {about 5 minutes}, {or heat your olive oil} then add cabbage, salt and pepper.. cook cabbage for about 15 minutes then lower heat and continue to cook until tender but still has some crispness/bite to it.. about another 10-15 minutes.. when done serve immediately.. i love it mixed with the mashed taters or the filling for a baked potato.. if you're like me someone who didn't like cabbage at all icky pooh.. stinky yuck....i recommend trying this recipe.. really it's good.. don't wait until next st. patty's day make this now!!

enjoy and get cook'n!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

fun food friday!!! bacon wrapped little smokies

  ever watch the movie little mermaid with cher?? she only serves appetizers for dinner.. her character believed serving dinner was to much of a commitment.. yeah well it's kinda a weird movie but i loved it.. he he anyway.. i had a cousins dinner recently and while i didn't only serve appetizers {which might be fun for the next dinner theme, thanks cher} i did serve bbq favorites and these little smokies worked out perfect.. file these under what to serve when your cooking for a crowd.. or just yourself he he
yummy little smokies wrapped in bacon and baked til crispy perfection.. talk about easy peazy lemon squeezy!!

i served them with a bbq sauce but that isn't necessary if you don't want they are yummy all on their own..

back in the old days when we used to have superbowl parties.. some 18 years ago.. i always made little smokes in the crockpot.. toss in a couple of bags of little smokies, a bottle of store bought bbq sauce, a handful of brown sugar, a dash or 2 of tobasco and a tablespoon of bourbon..set to low and cook for 3-4 hours and serve right out of the crock pot.. so easy and so good.. they are something you serve when it's chilly outside.. but when it warms up outside today's little cuties are the ones you want to serve.. they can be served hot right out of the oven or room temperature..

bacon wrapped little smokies

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 40-45 minutes
servings: 24 apps.

1 lb. package of little smokies
1 lb. package of bacon, cut into thirds
cajun seasoning like tony chachere's
bbq sauce


pre heat your oven to 375 degrees.. take a lined baking sheet and place a rack on it.. cut bacon into thirds and wrap each smokie and place them on the rack with the seem of the bacon down towards the baking sheet..  sprinkle with cajun seasoning.. bake them for about 20-30 minutes or until bacon is slightly crispy.. remove from baking sheet serve immediately with a side of bbq sauce..
enjoy and get cook'n!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

throwback thursday!! banana bread... but now with chocolate chips!!!

 for todays throwback thursday i am taking this recipe i posted here banana bread and making it better.. how did i make it better? well i added chocolate of course.. chocolate makes everything better {maybe not steak.. steak doesn't need chocolate}..

i have an affinity for these types of breads.. like grandmommy's zucchini bread or this pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread because when you stayed at grandmommy's house.. which was often, she would allow you to eat them pretty much whenever you i grew up loving have a slice of zucchini bread with a little butter on it as an afternoon snack..  memories.. and yummy ones at that..

chocolate chip banana bread

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 40-50 minutes
7 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2.5 cups of ap flour
1.5 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tblsp. butter, room temp.
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2  cup chocolate chips
pam baking spray

preheat oven to 350 degrees {f}, spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.. in a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.. set aside.  in a large mixing bowl cream butter and brown sugar with electric mixer {i used my stand mixer}.. add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla and beat on medium until thick.. scrape sides of the bowl down.. add flour mixture and blend on low until combined {i actually add my flour gradually so as to not make a huge mess}.. add chocolate chips and blend until well incorporated.. don't over mix...  pour batter into loaf pans and bake on the center rack for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean..

enjoy and get cook'n!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

take my word for it wednesday.. ollie is 5 and these chocolate cupcakes were a hit!!

ollie's b day party was sunday and i wanted to make cupcakes.. i had never made homemade cupcakes and frosting before but really wanted to try.. i got busy on saturday and didn't end up making them.. so i got up early early on sunday and proceeded to make them.. they were not that difficult.. i used grandmommy's miracle whip cake mix that i use for everything.. and a quick internet search yielded me an easy chocolate frosting.. hot diggety dog i am set what could go wrong.. {never ask that question in situations like these because something can and will go wrong.. horribly wrong..} well i started to get sick.. i got a stomach ache that dropped me to my knees.. i began chattering from my body being so cold.. yet i was burning up.. i kept having to lay down in between each step making the cupcakes.. but the results were amazing and everyone loved them!! as for me the rest of the day was a blur of laying down, sitting down, pacing.. taking a bath.. more pacing.. more laying down.. i made corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and barely remember doing it.. {i can tell you tho they were  some of the best corned beef, mashed taters and cabbage i've ever made, i ate it for lunch the next day.. i guess if you don't fuss over food to much it can actually be very good..} and regarding the stomach issue i did some research the next day and comparing my symptoms.. i am going to say i passed a kidney stone.. holy crimenoly!! that was painful!! might i suggest NOT doing it.. if it can be avoided.. :)

in my pain induced fog i didn't fill them all evenly and had some that were really flat.. 

and some largely domed shape.. i know these aren't perfect but they were yummy and looked good so i didn't sweat the small stuff.. had i felt better i probably would have started all over again and made them uniform.. i am glad i didn't.. {since mine were not even i did not yield 24 cupcakes.. i only got 20}

i needed a simple yet yummy frosting.. what i found here had the same ingredients of grandommy's frosting just "made" a different way and i knew it was kismet.. meant to be.. and i was right.. the frosting was out of this world!!
i then started to panic.. i had never decorated a cupcake before.. and i didn't have a pastry bag.. again a quick internet search and i found this great site with these amazing tips!!
and viola.. i know they aren't the prettiest and the most evenly decorated.. but hey it was my first try.. practice will make better..
my mom and shelby both called me after the party to tell me they were the best cupcakes they had ever eaten.. so i felt a tad bit better up until the next waive of nausea and pain.. :/

grandmommy's miracle whip cake mix used for the cupcakes
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 17-20 minutes
servings: 24 cupcakes


1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
6 heaping tbsps. cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup miracle whip
1 cup+ warm water {i had to add just a little more and make sure it's warm}
1 tsp. vanilla


preheat oven to 350 degrees {f}.. sift dry ingredients together then add miracle whip, water and vanilla... combine all ingredients until mixed well... i use a hand whisk.. spoon batter between 24 liners in your cupcake pan.. bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean...  remove when done and allow to cool completely before adding your frosting..

chocolate frosting


2 sticks {1 cup} softened butter
1/2 cup {8 tblsp.} of cocoa powder
5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream {or milk}


in a medium mixing bowl, whip butter and cocoa until smooth.. add vanilla and slowly the powdered sugar {i used my stand mixer and added the powdered sugar 2 cups at a time with the last time only being 1 cup}.. while the mixer is running and the powdered sugar is thoroughly mixed in slowly stream in cream/milk until frosting reaches your desired consistency... scrape sides down and mix/whip again until fluffy and smooth.. frosts 24 cupcakes..

happy birthday ollie.. what an amazing little guy your growing up to be..
we love you!!!
enjoy and get cook'n!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

throwback thursday.. st. patty day recipes..

today's throwback thursday is featuring recipes for st. patty's day.. i can't to make a corned beef this weekend and have rueben sandwiches...

irish stew

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 8 hours
servings: 4-6


2 lb. chuck roast, cubed {or more traditional cubed lamb roast}
1 bag of the mini carrots, already peeled
1 large onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tblsp.garlic powder
1 tblsp. onion powder
1 tblsp. smokey paprika
3 russet potatoes, diced
1 cup beef broth
1 can guinness beer
1 six oz can of tomato paste
salt and pepper
olive oil


two twirls around a heavy bottom pan with olive oil over medium heat cook your cubed meat until brown.. add to your crock pot the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.. on top of that add the browned meat... in the pan you just cooked the meat in add about a 1/4 of a cup of guinness and deglaze the pan.. then add your tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes, it will make a dark thick sauce.. then add tomato mixture to the crock pot.. then add your beef broth and remaining can of beer, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper.. turn crock pot to low and cook for 8 hours.. serve in bowls with crusty french bread..

corned beef

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
servings: 4


3 lb corned beef in package {spice packet discarded}
1/4 cup hot sweet mustard
2 tbls. brown sugar


pre heat oven to 350 degrees {f}.. drain corned beef from the package, discard the spice packet and rinse off the corned beef.. take 2 pieces of foil and make a T over your baking pan.. lay corned beef, fat side up in the center..spread the top with the hot sweet mustard and sprinkle brown sugar over the top.. wrap the corned beef with the foil in a way which allows for a little space on top between the meat and the foil and creates a container to catch the juice.. once wrapped place in a shallow baking dish.. {mine didn't even drip into my pan..} for pictures on how to do this check this recipe out.. then bake for 2 hours.. open the foil wrapping and spread a little more mustard and use a ladle and drench the meat with it's own juices.. put back in the oven for 15-20 more minutes or until the top gets bubbly and lightly brown..let rest for 5 - 10 minutes, then place on a cutting board and cut across the grain of the meat..

corned beef hash
prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
servings: 4
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cups chopped corned beef
3 cups cubed frozen hashbrowns, thawed
salt and pepper
8 eggs 
heat two twirls around your pan of olive oil {i used my iron skillet} over medium heat.. add onions and peppers and cook a few minutes until tender about 4 -5.. add potatoes spread evenly over the pan.. cook until tender.. add chopped corned beef and spread everything evenly over the bottom of the pan and press down with a not stir to often you want them to get brown.. once the bottom is nicely brown flip it over in sections and press down again with spatula.. cook until it's all nicely brown.. remove from heat.. add salt and pepper to taste.. serve with your favorite kind of eggs..

who could resist a rueben sandwich.. i know i can't they rank up there with one of my favorite sandwiches of all time..

rueben sandwich

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 10 minutes
servings: 4


2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
8 slices of rye bread
8 sliced of swiss cheese
1 lb corned beef, sliced
1 cup coleslaw (i used the thin sliced pre packaged cabbage)
1/2 cup russian dressing (recipe below)


combine coleslaw and 1/4 cup russian dressing.. set aside.. spread a thin layer of the russian dressing on the inside of your bread then place one slice of the cheese on that side.. pile your meat on the cheese, add some of the coleslaw mixture, then top with another slice of cheese.. spread another thin layer of russian dressing on the inside of the second piece of bread and top your sandwich with that piece.. butter the top side of your bread that's facing you.. heat a heavy bottom non stick skillet or griddle pan over medium low heat.. add the sandwiches with the butter side down.. then butter the top piece now facing you.. cook until the one side is golden brown.. using a spatula carefully flip the sandwich and finish cooking on the second side and until golden brown.. remove from heat.. slice and serve.. and remember to have your green beer...

spicy russian dressing

prep time: 15 minutes
servings: approx. 3 cups


1 1/2 cups mayo
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbls. prepared horseradish
1 tbls. fresh squeezed lemon
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1tsp. hot sauce {more for more spice}
1 tsp. smoky paprika
1 dill pickle, chopped
2 scallions, chopped, top and bottom
salt and pepper


combing all the above in a food processor until thoroughly mixed.. do not over blend, you still want some chunks.. season with salt and pepper.. set aside if using right away or put in the fridge in a covered jar..

happy st. patty's day
remember to enjoy and get cook'n!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

take my word for it wednesday.. these backyard bbq recipes work out perfectly for a crowd..


i had a cousins dinner again this weekend.. we ended up having about 14 people.. i served some old favorites.. like my easy bbq chicken .. which is so easy you really can't go wrong with it..

and as luck would have it the weather was so nice we got to enjoy cooking and spending the evening  outside.. i also served....

one of my all time favorites... velvetta spaghetti .. i really love this simple side dish..

you can't have a bbq without baked beans ... these are yummy... baked beans are my favorite side dish when having a bbq..

my mom's cheesy scalloped potatoes round out any meal.. the richness and cheesy gooey yumminess  really goes well with the bbq..

we pulled out the smoker and pete made bbq kalua pork..

all in all it was a great dinner with family and everyone enjoyed themselves and left with full tummies!!

all recipes can be doubled or tripled for large crowds and parties..

enjoy and get cook'n!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

roasted mushroom and brussel sprout polenta

i grew up disliking brussel sprouts.. immensely.. everything about them.. augh.. but recently i tried them roasted in the oven and wow they were yummy {yes i had to admit to my mom she was right..}.. i roasted mushrooms {my fav} with the brussel sprouts and even if i hadn't been planning on adding them to the polenta just those 2 veggies roasted together would have been wonderful..
just toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven.. this would be great on pasta too :)

i had never made polenta before.. I've seen on menus and it always sounded so good i wanted to try it.. 

the creaminess of the polenta and the sauteed veggies are a great combo.. 

roasted mushroom & brussel sprout polenta 
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes
servings: 6


1 lbs. brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 package of sliced mushrooms
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese {some extra as garnish}
basic polenta {recipe below}


pre heat oven to 400 degrees {f}.. line a baking sheet with foil, add brussel sprouts and mushrooms to baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper.. bake in oven 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned.. while veggies are roasting make your polenta..

basic polenta
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 25 minutes
servings: 6
3 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal {polenta}
3 tblsp. unsalted butter

bring water and broth to a boil in a heavy large pot.. add 2 tsp. salt.. gradually whisk in the cornmeal.. reduce heat to low and cook until mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender.. stir often; about 15 minutes.. turn off heat and add butter and stir until melted.. add parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and roasted veggies.. sprinkle with a little more parmesan and serve..

enjoy and get cook'n!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

throwback thursday.. banh mi pork tacos with spicy pickled veggies..

for today's throwback Thursday i chose one my of favorite dishes.. before making these i had never had them.. i saw them on a cooking show and thought they looked totally scrumptious so i decided to make them and they did not disappoint!! they are soo good and the spicy veggies on them are what makes them go from good to great!! try em you like em!!
banh mi pork tacos
prep time: 30 {2-3 hours for marinade}
cooking time: 50
servings: 16 tacos
olive oil
2 lbs. thinly sliced pork cutlets, cut into strips
salt and pepper
3-4 tsp. sraracha sauce
1/4 cup agave
4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
sriracha mayo
1/2 cup low fat mayo
2 tsp. {or more} sriracha sauce
2 tsp. agave
tortillas and toppings:
16 - 6 inch flour tortillas, heated according to package directions
bunch of cilantro sprigs
pickled veggies {recipe below}
season pork with salt and pepper then cut into thin strips and add to a zip lock bag.. in a medium mixing bowl whisk sriracha sauce, agave and vinegar until well incorporated.. pour over pork in zip lock and seal and keep in the fridge for about 2-3 hours before cooking.. once ready to cook heat two twirls around an iron skillet of olive oil over medium high heat.. add pork in batches and cook until no longer pink.. remove and repeat with remaining pork.. once it's all cooked add all the pork back and any left over marinade to the pan and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.. in a small mixing bowl whisk mayo, sriracha and agave until smooth, set aside until ready to use.. while the pork is simmering heat your flour tortillas..
divide pork among tortillas and top with spicy veggies {using a slotted spoon} and top with the sriracha mayo and cilantro..  it was easy and so good!!
i now make these veggies usually every 2 or so week and use them for everything ha .. i dice them up and top burgers, salads, fish tacos, sloppy joes, hot dogs.. i added them to mayo and used them on a sandwich.. they are very versatile.. i sometime just eat a carrot or radish right out of the jar.. yummy..
spicy pickled veggies


3 or 4 radish, sliced
a handful of carrots chips
1/2 cup diced daikon radish
2 jalapeƱos, sliced into rings
1 anaheim pepper, sliced into rings
handful of chopped cilantro
1 cup of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tblsp. agave {or sugar or splenda}


cut up veggies into what ever shape you like... i used my mandolin to slice up the red radishes, the carrots came already sliced up and the daikon i diced up.. in a small mixing bowl whisk vinegars, salt and agave until combined.. and your veggies to a large mason jar and pour the liquid over them and put your hand in the jar and kinda squish everything down... store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks... the first day every couple of hours i shook up the jar and got the ingredients to mix and mingle..

enjoy and get cook'n!!!