Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

oh my goodness! this stuff was crazy good!!! I'm not a big pecan person so I imagine the next time I make this I will crush the pecan's a bit more. I followed the recipe almost to the letter. I walk away from it sometimes and end up doing my own thing. Which might be what I should have done. I should have mixed half the chocolate chips into the corn syrup mix to get the chocolate distributed. and then mixed the rest in later with the pecans (and of course, crush the pecans more).
I also used a butter crust recipe.

1 (9 inch) pie shell
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chip
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees F).
In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar dissolves. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set and golden. May be served warm or chilled.


chili, projector screens, laundry

I was about to sit down and express my undying appreciation for having my sanity back... in the form of my corner... ignore the pile of laundry! (the hubby had a "projector screen" up against that back wall for awhile. If you moved the chair slightly you could even be attacked by it. oh, the bonuses! He finally took it down because he hadn't used it in a while. Speaking of which, where is it now? ....oh, boy.)
Anyway, I was about to sit down when I heard the sound of hissing coming from my stove... I put rice on to boil only a few minutes ago after I tasted my chili and suddenly couldn't feel my tongue. Canned red peppers and dry diced jalapeno peppers can get quite powerful apparently.
and on to my sanity. Lots of things have been driving me crazy- our boss asked if he came up with a way to cover our costs would we stay for another year? Commit to another year? GOD GIVE ME DIRECTION AND GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!! the pros and cons are too great! I was starting to adjust to the mindset of job, house, schooling, kids?, life, career, etc. -which the homey-soccer mom inside me craves. Or I could live another year overseas - which the adventurer inside me craves.
Oh, life, why are you so difficult?
I think we have this part way figured out... if one thing doesn't work, we have the other thing. right?
Next, how do you pack? I'll start with the pile of laundry.


Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (mushed)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice (a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice)
1.25 cups plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Equipment: 12 foil or paper muffin liners; a muffin pan with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350F. Put liners in muffin cups.
Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1.25 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide the batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown about 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershy's Cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 package (10 oz) Reese's Peanut Butter Chips (optional)
Oven set at 350. Stir flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Slowly add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 8-9 minutes. (Do not overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling).

Cool completely. For ice cream sandwiches, press a small scoop of vanilla ice cream between flat sides of two cookies. Eat as is or wrap them and freeze. 
If you don't have peanut butter chips, like me, crush 1 peanut butter cups into each scoop of ice cream and spread onto cookies and serve.


Crème Brûlée French toast

Oh, this was so good and easy!

3 eggs
1 tbsp of milk
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
9-10 pieces of bread (number varies on bread size)
caramel syrup
regular syrup

Break eggs into a wide, shallow bowl or pie plate; beat lightly with a fork. Stir in milk, cinnamon and vanilla.
Over medium-low heat, heat griddle/skillet coated with a thin layer of butter.
Place the bread slices, one at a time, into the bowl or plate, letting slices soak up egg mixture for a few seconds, then carefully turn to coat the other side. Soak/coat only as many slices as you will be cooking at one time.
Transfer bread slices to griddle/skillet, heating slowly until bottom is golden brown. Turn and brown the other side. Serve with butter and a drizzle of Caramel syrup and regular syrup.


Fluffy Biscuits

ok, so everyone panics at some point right? I did with this recipe. I stirred in all the ingredients and it looked really wet for all the biscuit dough I've seen. I added flour. Don't do it!
There are many quirks to this recipe and they will be featured below the recipe!

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg with milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead a few times. Roll to 3/4-in. thickness; cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

So I used butter instead of shortening (because I don't have shortening) but the best way is to use half shortening half butter!
Also, don't knead them too much. Gently pat down and gently roll out.
Brush the top with butter, apparently it helps them rise!


Golden Sweet Cornbread

The Best recipe I have ever found for cornbread...
oh it was incredible!!!! I can't believe I am sharing with ya'll.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.


Sneaky Cobbler - Dessert Shortcuts 101

 from thepioneerwoman until i make it again, and take my own
1-2 can of pie filling (choose any flavor you prefer)
1 box of cake mix (once again any flavor)
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of  (softened, not melted)

Preheat oven to 350.
Pour Filling into an oven safe dish or pot (that has a fitting oven safe lid), preferably less than 12 inches in diameter. Sprinkle on cake mix. Crumble Butter and sugar together with a fork or fingers and sprinkle onto cake mix.
Put the lid on and place the dish in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top starts turning a golden crispy brown and the filling is bubbling.

Serve with ice cream!

Cherry Filling and Chocolate cake mix
Peach Filling and Yellow cake mix
Blueberry Filling and White cake mix


Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

I stole this from Food Network. But it's kinda uniquely mine.
I didn't add the extra egg yolk. I didn't feel like it- seems like extra work. And I didn't have parchement paper. I also substituted vanilla sugar for vanilla extract. Just a cooking stone lightly greased. It still turned out good!
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
They are the bomb!


the makeover!

the rooms is almost done! we are waiting on a slipcover coming from the states. but it looks great with out it. In the future we will have more interns and associates working, so we will need more seating then. At this point, I vote we use it for all our staff meetings!

either that or i can be my new office. somehow I don't think so, but now we are tossing around ideas for the cave which will be a future intern room. We are thinking fun and bright and cheerful. Possibly lime green. how fun would that be?
the cost involved was less than I was expecting, which was good. for every thing in this room it was less than 300 Euros. We were able to re-purpose our leftover spray paint to fix up an "equipment" table going in the cave. The paper "think bubble" light that was in this room before may find it's new home in the cave. So all in all we hope to do lots of re-purposing and TLC along the way to cut costs.

What do you think?


a work in progress

we are so determined to get rid of this horrible yellow... it's not so horrible, it's horrible that they did that much wall with it! we are cool and fun people, we need cool and fun places!!!
notice we didn't go orange... probably a good idea...

so this is "coffee pot" not looking so coffee like to me... but it is working so well with colors and purchases we've made I am eager to see what else we come up with... and next? the hallway, and then the offices... I can't wait!!

Please ignore the mess!

Keep coming back for progress reports!


Alfredo Sauce plus Fettuccine

This is a slight detour from my series currently... but enjoy!
Oh, trying to be creative... My husband asked me what was for dinner... I told him I had green noodles somewhere... and I was serious. I love free leftover food from people... don't worry I got them uncooked!
But seriously, what's in them to make them green?
My hubby voted for seaweed. uh. no. I'm sticking with spinach. it's sounds better, plus it was on the box.
Interesting fact though: Fettuccine (apparently) literally means "little ribbons" in Italian.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/4 tsp of salt

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low hear. Add cream; simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cheese and whisk quickly. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Stir in salt, pepper, and parsley. Serve over fettuccine.
How easy is that? Doesn't taste quite like they make it in Italian restaurants or like the chemical rich alfredo sauce available in stores now!  Sorry had to... but it has a great homemade taste.... so Bon Appetit!


Little Cooking Shortcuts 101- In-a-Pinch Salads

This one can be done by anyone... It's a great little something to throw together quickly. There are several methods to my madness and different ways of throwing this together. The reason why I do this is because I would end up buying a head of lettuce and a package of carrots and a bag of tomatoes, etc. and most of it would wilt or go bad before I was able to use it up. If this isn't the case for you, you can read this for your own amusement. I did this for the convenience of it saving money, of it being right around the corner, and of it only being $4.99/lb at the Salad Bar.

browneyedbaker's pic
1 package of precut lettuce
A Dillon's or other supermarket with a Salad Bar

If in a hurry or late also grab on your way out the door:
~Cute (and large) plastic bowl with lid**
~Serving utensils
~Salad Dressing

Go through the Salad Bar picking out your favorite veggies- tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, onions, etc. (sky's the limit, or your pocketbook)
Method 1. Scrap remembering the dressing as you are running out the door. Buy some at the store when you are there. Especially if you can't read the expiration date on your bottle at home.
Method 2*. Use the dressing at the Salad Bar. Cover the veggies with a lite Vinaigrette. (Good idea if you don't know who is going to be at this party)
When you get out to the car toss the package of lettuce and the veggies  (*and dressing) into your cute bowl, cover and shake.
You are now ready to party!

P.S. This is a good one to teach the guy in your life. Show him once or twice which veggies you prefer and he can stop on the way home and pick this up! Then you can toss it together at home for your own party or before you head to someone else's party.

**Good thing to invest in... you never know when it will come in handy.


Little Cooking Shortcuts 101- Quick Desserts

Tiramisu Knock-off
This post starts a series of posts I am going to do on Cooking Shortcuts. I have a special few that I use in times of trouble, or in times of poor timing, or in times of needing something QUICK!
This one I invented in my head after I picked up one ingredient at the store.
Mascarpone. If you know anything about this ingredient it is the "killer" ingredient in Tiramisu (the most incredible dessert in the world.) So my thought was a "crazy american's" tiramisu knock-off.

Method 2 minus optional toppings and ice cream.
1 Pound cake or angel food cake (or hazelnut crunch kilo cake from Lidl's)
Mascarpone (6-8 oz)
Nutellla (or equivalent) (4 oz)
Ice cream (vanilla, preferred)
Optional toppings* - Strawberries (sliced with a little sugar)                or  - Instant coffee granules
The coffee granules are for the tiramisu effect. Strawberries, for the chocolate and strawberry effect. Use either one....

1. Warm the mascarpone in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds, just enough to soften it. Add a few tablespoons of sugar to sweeten it a bit. I also added a smidge of vanilla sugar.
2. Warm the Nutella for 15-20 seconds. (might need to add a fraction of a teaspoon of milk to get it to a drizzling consistency.

3.This is where we split into separate methods.
Method 1. Cut the cake in half horizontally.
Spread the mascarpone onto the top of the bottom half of the cake. (* Sprinkle with coffee granules)
Top with other half of cake. You can add another layer of Mascarpone on the top half if you like.
Drizzle the top with melted Nutella. (*top with Strawberries.)

Method 2. Slice the cake (vertically) into individual pieces. Lay each piece on it's side and top with a layer of mascarpone and Nutella. (*Sprinkle on coffee granules or strawberries)

Serve with a scoop of ice cream.
P.S. This is a good one to serve up at home. If you would like to take it to a party, I recommend Method 1. And if doing strawberries- wait until you arrive at the party to top with strawberries. (and of course wait until it's being served before adding the ice cream) ::wink::

Enjoy! and Bon Appétit!


oh, give me the simple life...

listen to this as you read...
it seemed as if the days of drying the laundry on a clothesline were far gone. I absolutely loved washing my sheets and blankets. Load up the washer with detergent and fabric softener (absolute must) and then wait. and wait. and wait. then finally I could take them all out to the clothesline.
thank you to someone on google for this...
oh the days of clothespins. the funness of trying to get everything to stay as they flapped around in the Kansas wind.
and the flapping. the most beautiful sound. it was if they were dancing, at last free to dance in the breeze. not to blow away mind you, but to dance nonetheless.
and the sun-soaked, leafy grass smell (aka that outdoor smell) that was now deeply embedded in the fabrics. Hints of that outdoor smell mixed with the lingering smell of the fabric softener or detergent is a beautiful thing.
then the weirdest thing of all... i ironed my sheets. it's for the crispness, that's all. I have since given this up because the crispness doesn't last long with my husband around.
but the days of the clothesline were not far gone. it's not quite the same, but the days of laundry racks instead of dryers are in my present, the days of the clothesline are hopefully in my future.
the simpler things, a tiny dishwasher that allows me to take a few moments of quiet as I do dishes by hand or load the 12 items into the dishwasher. A few moments of quiet you wonder? Ha! People know better than to come in my kitchen while I'm cleaning to try to bug me! I will put them to work! My hubby has tried to invade a few times, only to leave when I comment "you volunteering for something?"
the days of the simpler life. i think that's how i would prefer it... it seems nowadays we spend all our time trying to squeeze the minutes out of the day, when really we are squeezing the life out of our days. we should take the time to be quiet, be still and be relaxed... life will go on.
Oh, give me the simple life!!!!



I found this bookshelf on the side of the road. I let it sit all weekend before I nabbed it. No dumpster diving for this one... I'm not sure that everyone else was as thrilled but I am excited to fix it up and give it a home... it's supposed to be a shelf but the wood where the the hook as is damaged, so my plan for it is to put it on the desk in the bedroom.
my other before is the Production zone, I was asked to give it a fresh look and make it cool and fun! I have some thoughts and a small budget, but it's going to be awesome to get to give it a new hip look and leave a little touch of me here when I leave... We got an "ok" to paint! Orange is color at the moment... don't worry, it's gonna look great! i've been messing around with colors, and thanks to the boss boss for the color idea. I googled orange and maroon rooms as soon as she suggested it and found this picture. I fell in love with it... i'm using it as my inspiration for colors.


Tollhouse Chocolate chip cookies

...so the dough is good. my first batch of cookies were WHITE at 10 minutes; at 15 minutes they were dark, really dark.
the second batch i cooked cuz my oven was hot, but i didn't serve them hot. These cookies must be served warm!!!!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Yummy Peanut Butter Cookies

(i only know these are good, because my hubby devours them. if you know anything about me, peanut butter and I don't get along. I tolerate it in my cooking, but normally don't eat it in any of my cooking, it's only ok in my dad's Monster cookies.) :)
1 cup margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease two cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Use a wet fork dipped in sugar to make the crisscrosses on the top.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy! (or with ice cream)


everywhere I've been

We were on a mission. Drive with our friends and their 18-month-old twins to Venice and back. 10 hours both ways. And of course see Venice. We did it in about 36 hours. and oh, did I want to stop! There were so many places to stop along the way. I could have gotten lost in Munich. I'm sure some other places too (had we stopped in Austria and Switzerland)(and not been outnumbered by the guys). Europe is just amazing! Living here is spoiling for sure. I can't wait to explore more, I don't think I see enough. ;)
It was just beautiful countryside. So green. So lovely. and the Villas and vineyards in Italy. TO DIE FOR! Amazingness all around. The Alps were just incredible. So magnificent. Hopefully I will get to see them again soon, maybe this winter.
So in a nutshell, MUST-SEES- Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein. But I suggest you take more than 36 hours to see it all. ;)



a good friend of mine ;) went to Italy recently. what a bummer place to go on vacation, right? *note sarcastic tone* Well, anyway she brought me back a package of pasta. I have never seen anything like this before, but I was excited! It looked like rolled up pizza dough. I translated the instructions. Slice it. Boil it for 2-3 (yep) minutes in salt water. Drain. Top with seasonings or sauce. this is my abbreviated version. Don't worry i followed the real directions.
I was freaking out. As it was cooking it was looking less and less like any pasta I had ever had, but I couldn't cook it any longer either. It would have fallen apart! So I topped it with some Olive oil, seasonings and Parmesan cheese. It turned out pretty good. Had a strange consistency, but it was definitely Italian, with a hint of pancakeness. We ate half of it like that and then added some "spaghetti" sauce to it, to see if it was good that way too. It was. My improvements for next time will be to slice it thinner, I think it should be the same thickness of fettuccine. and add more Parmesan cheese. (just because everything is better with parmesan)
Haley- thank you for this cooking adventure! I will treasure it always! And next time you go to Italy, you can bring me back anything. Adventure is my middle name.


southern buttermilk cornbread

This really is that simple. Even if you aren't wanting to make cornbread from scratch if you add a tablespoon of sugar or honey to the mix, it gives it a slightly new taste. And your guests will think you worked on it all day. The picture is from betty crocker...yet again, I didn't take a picture!

1 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
(optional)tablespoon of honey

Heat oven to 450°F. Grease bottom and side of 9-inch round pan or 8-inch square pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix all ingredients with spoon until blended. Beat vigorously 30 seconds. Pour batter into pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.


South of the Border Wraps

Yes, I forgot to take a picture of it. Unless I purposely remember to take a picture of it or have forgotten to take a picture before, i don't purposely think to take a picture of my food. I'm sure I'll be making it again soon!

1/4 red peppers, chopped
1/4 green peppers, chopped
onion, chopped
1 small can of corn
3-4 tbsp of salsa
pinch of cilantro/parsley
1/4- 1/2 cup of cheese
1/2 lb. of ground beef
couple of tortilla

Saute peppers and onions. Brown ground beef. Stir salsa, corn and parsley. Simmer for a couple minutes. Stir in cheese.
Fill tortillas with beef mixture.


Chicken Paella

The very name should make you want to sit down and enjoy its tastiness.
Serves 4-5 or 2 if you don't want to share.

Olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 green pepper (chopped)
1/2 red pepper (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
1/2 onion (you guessed it- chopped)

1 pound of chicken breast (cut into chunks)

Paella seasoning mix or 2 chicken bouillon cube.
1 can of tomato sauce
2- 2 1/2 cups of water
1-2 tsp pf parsley
1-2 tsp of salt

1 1/2 cups of rice, uncooked
optional vegetables- corn, peas, or wide green beans.

Stir together seasoning packet or cubes with the tomato sauce and water. Add the parsley and salt. Simmer on medium heat.

Heat oil in medium/large skillet on medium heat. Saute the onions, peppers, garlic and tomato til brown. Place in bowl and set aside.

Add a little bit more oil if needed and cook the chicken til they have a touch of brown; add back in the pepper mixture for a minute.

Place Chicken/Pepper mixture in a 9x13 pan. Stir in rice and vegetables. Pour in the Paella sauce and gently stir it. Cover with Aluminum foil; Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until rice is done.


apples and antiques

First apples! I couldn't resist. Actually I was wandering around and thought I would go back to the fresh fruits section, normally I don't even bother to go into these sections, mostly because Fridays I run down to the little fruit market stand in the plaza. But I was wandering through looking for green peppers and instead found these apples- Origin: Italia. I figured I had to try them before I knocked them. I need to join the Facebook group that's called "i ran into grab one thing and came out with a full cart" why is that such an absolute guarantee?

the other thing is Antique stores. I have seen SO MANY! BUT....... they close during siesta, which is when I'm there.... boohoo! I found a antique bookstore in Toledo, I very affectionately caressed most of the books in there (it was small) but when most of them were 12E I couldn't make up my mind, had they been 5E it would have been easy I would have bought one of each! Just kidding. So I bid the old man farewell and told him I would be back. and trust me I will. But there were several antique stores in Toledo all closed. I should have split up with the group, silly tourists. The store in the picture is in Tarragona a beautiful small town, that unfortunately worships Siesta time too! Come on people! I'm here! http://antiguitatscastellarnau.com/index.html oh, well, I'm sure I will be begging for siestas too when it's 40C outside too!

And if I ever open an Antique store I'm calling it Apples & Antiques. NO STEALING!!!


sadly, yes.

I forgot to take a picture of the Paella I made last night! It was quite delightful considering I looked at a bunch of recipes, wrote down a lot of ingredients and got a great end result. I will make it again... hopefully less thrown together, and take pictures.

I was thinking today of all the recipes I could add to this, but my Grandpa's recipe for Buttermilk Waffles is not one I could just give out to the world. I'm not sure if it's Dutch or German or a mix of both. But now that I'm the 3rd or 4th generation to have this recipe - it makes it sacred.
The other recipe is my hubby's Mom's German Potato Salad, her recipe is also passed down I'm at least a 3rd generation on that as well. So you can see it's hard to just give it out.

oh, the delicious things in life.


Befores and Afters

When you have a limited budget and you are working with other people's stuff that was left behind or items that have to be left for the next people living in the house, it's hard to decorate... BUT!!!! you can always come up with something... I saw a lamp shade with a BELT at a store last fall, Absolutely loved it!!! So I tried this.... so badly wanted a cuter bow, but every website I looked at had the classic shoelace bow... and sadly, that's what I used, but please if anyone knows of any cool bows send them to me!!
So the ribbons were left behind and the lamps go with the apartment. can't get cheaper than that.
(also easiest way to clean lamp shade is with a lint roller) heck yes!


Fluffy Pancakes

These were super yum! My husband recommends them with peanut butter and large amounts of syrup like all the other variations of pancakes I make...

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir in milk and egg yolk until smooth.
In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.



Italian in the air!

1 loaf of italian or french bread, sliced*
4 varieties of tomatoes, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of vinegar (optional)
mozzerella cheese (optional)
olive oil

Cold option.(have tomatoes stored in frig) Mix tomatoes with vinegar. Add seasonings. Keep refrigerated.

Warm option. Mix tomatoes and seasoning. Set aside.

Brush the slices of bread with the oil (enough to cover the bread but not soak it). Fry the garlic with a little oil in medium-high heat. Fry the bread on top of the garlic, repeat on other side when golden brown. Remove from heat and place the bread on a baking sheet in a warm oven, while you finish frying the rest of the bread.

Cold option. Scoop cold tomato mixture onto warm bread and serve immediately.

Warm option. Top room temperature tomato mixture on the bread in the oven. Top with cheese. Broil until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

*Only use as many as you plan to be eaten. These do not reheat well.



Just so you know, this feeds a hungry man and normal woman. That's it. Double, triple, whatever as you need. I've also done this in a brunch setting. Two batches of this recipe served with eggs, bacon, coffee, juice will feed 5-6 normal size people. Good luck!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, beat together egg, milk and oil. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture. Beat until smooth.
Pour or scoop the batter onto the hot griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.



all in favor of not spending money on shutters! I mean really, I bought a cute little one at an antique store last year for like $10. I really had to talk myself into that one... I didn't buy the identical one (in another part of the store) for $12. A friend very nicely left a shutter behind when she moved out of the apartment I am currently in. I am still trying to find the perfect spot for it because it looks fantastic next to my white curtains but it gets no attention there. my sister helped me go dumpster diving for more shutters (shown in the picture) which I saved from their home in an empty lot (full of trash, i might add). We got some curious looks but no one stopped us, thank goodness! So now I have 3 shutters that I need to find perfect spots for. The hard thing about decorating my current home is the fact that I have wires, computers and other such electronics runny ruckus in my house. I love that I have a very talented husband but I wish God had also blessed him with organizational skills, alas He has not. (of course my collection of organizational magazines is not helping) I am currently trying to go through them and absorb their wonderful wisdom. this house looks nothing like the pictures in the magazines, even on good days!


one-bowl chocolate cake!

Easiest Chocolate cake to make!!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and lightly flour a 9x1-1/2-inch round baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes more. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and transfer to a serving plate.
*I didn't have powdered sugar, which was fine, I served the cake with ice cream. Enjoy!


not your "basic" makeover...

My Sister left for Basic Training knowing only that I planned to repaint her room... and I was looking at curtains... NOTHING ELSE!

Brick wall was the most tiring and rewarding... I was so pleased with how it turned out... I think I spent $15 on the template for the bricks and used 2 large sponges to create the affect, 8 hours of penciling and painting!

I think I spent between $300-$400 on it total. 
2 1/2 gallons of coffee, chocolate and mint paints $30/gal
1 qt. of magnetic paint (under the chocolate paint) $35/qt
New (but used) recliner $24
New sheets, accent pillows, clock, picture frames, bed frame, etc.

The Magnetic walls didn't turn out like I thought they would... but the magnets held up the posters and that's all I required...

I love it... she thought it was awesome! that's all that matters...


Mexican/Italian Casserole

This is another throw together recipe.The idea was a Mexican Chicken rice dish.
But I have more Italian seasonings then Mexican so alas it's an Italian seasoned Mexican dish...

3/4 of a pound of Chicken, sliced in chunks
1/4 of a red pepper, chopped
1/4 of an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Italian seasonings
Chili powder
1 15oz or bigger can of tomato sauce
1 cup of rice
1 can of corn
1/2 cup of cheese

First sautee the chicken, onion, red pepper and garlic until chicken is white. Sprinkle on Italian seasonings and chili powder. Cook until the chicken turns brown.
In a casserole dish, stir tomato sauce, rice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. (if you like lots of flavor add a tablespoon or so of the Italian seasonings and chili powder to this as well. Add Chicken mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the rice is looking almost done.
Stir in corn. Top with cheese. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes. Bon Appétit!


Dessert Panini


4 slices of bread
couple tablespoons of butter
vanilla sugar(or regular sugar)
Nutella (or I used Peanut butter cocoa spread)
1 Banana, sliced

Butter both sides of the bread and sprinkle sugar on one side of each. (keep track of which side). *Fry them til they have a golden brown touch on the sugared side. Spread Nutella on the sugared side of all 4 pieces and top 2 of them with banana. Place the other slices chocolate side onto the bananas. Fry a couple seconds longer on both sides to warm. Enjoy!

*If you fry the non sugared side less then the sugared side the chocolate spreading and last couple seconds should get it to a nice golden brown.

You can also make this non-panini and use 2 slices of bread. (like the picture)


Soft Sugar Cookies

I have made these several times, and this time I had to change it up a bit. I was low on white sugar and used Raw sugar to make it a complete cup. I also added a tsp of vanilla sugar because I do not have vanilla or almond extract on hand. Cooking is all about substitution... or at least it is here!
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Beat together butter and sugar on low speed of mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in flavorings and egg. Mix. Stir in flour and baking soda.
Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, shape dough into balls. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Press cookie down slightly to flatten using the bottom of a glass which has been dipped in sugar. Colored or white sugar may be used.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, just until cookies have set. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.


A Farmer's Casserole

Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers or shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
1 cup diced cooked ham, cooked breakfast sausage or Canadian-style bacon
1/4 cup sliced green onions (2)
4 beaten eggs or 1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
1-1/2 cups milk or one 12-ounce can evaporated milk or evaporated fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with cheese, ham, and green onions.
2. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in dish.
3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
4. Make-ahead directions: Prepare as above through step 2. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

5.Farmer's Casserole for 12: Prepare as above, except double all ingredients and use a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings


Tarte aux Kiwis (Kiwi Tart)

I made this with the help of an awesome friend Clarisse. The specific details (which are absolute necessity in Clarisse's mind, and the French are always right, at least cooking-wise) of this recipe are in the parenthesis in the English translation.

Tarte aux Kiwis
Préparation : 30 mn
Cuisson : 30 à 35 mn
Ingrédients (pour 6 personnes) :
Pâte sablée:
- 250 g de farine
- 1 pincée de sel
- 125 g de sucre
- 125 g de beurre mou
- 1 oeuf

- 4 oeufs
- 50 ml de crème fraîche
- 100 g de sucre
- 1/2 jus de citron ;
- 4-6 kiwis

Préparation :

Préparer la pâte et laisser reposer le temps de faire la garniture.
Mélanger les oeufs entiers, la crème, le sucre et le jus de citron.
Mettre la pâte dans un plat à tarte et recouvrir de la crème. Y déposer les kiwis en rondelles. Faire cuire 30 à 35 mn à four chaud (thermostat 7/210°C).

Kiwi Tart
Preparation: 30 min
Cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 250 g flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 125 g sugar
- 125 g soft butter
- 1 egg

- 4 eggs
- 50 ml cream
- 100 g sugar
- 1 / 2 lemon juice;
- 4-6 kiwis (peeled and sliced to 1/2 thickness)


Prepare the dough (grainy consistency) and let rest time to make the filling.
Mix the eggs, cream, sugar and lemon juice. (use a whisk, and whip it til your hand hurts)
Put the dough in a pie dish and cover with cream and drop in the kiwi slices. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in hot oven (thermostat 7 / 210 ° C).
(Use wax paper to roll out the dough and put the dough in the pan (wax paper side towards the pan.) Layer the kiwi in the crust and top with cream, until just covering the kiwis. Cook until the bottom is golden brown.)