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Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Mamaw’s birthday was on Sunday.



Mamaw's present from me, a crocheted cross bookmark

We had a cookout, with hamburgers and hot dogs and loads of other goodies.


Mmmmm...Indiana sweet corn on the cob

I made the birthday cake. I really like making cakes for our family gatherings, but it presents a bit of a challenge. Two people in our family do not get along well with lactose, one of which happens to be Sunday’s birthday girl. I typically spend some time the week before, researching ingredients to make sure that everyone can enjoy cake without worrying about a nasty reaction. It’s a fun challenge to try and come up with something other than a plain white dairy free cake.

This one was such a winner, that I’m thinking I may need to make it again very soon.

Lactose free strawberries and cream cake

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3 ounce package strawberry gelatin
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lactose free buttery spread
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (you could use egg substitute if necessary)
1 1/4 cup lactose free milk


I use plain almond milk and soy free vegan buttery spread

Preheat your oven to 375 ° and spray two 8 inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy. Line the bottoms with parchment and set aside.

Combine flour,  salt, baking powder,  and gelatin in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat buttery spread until fluffy, then add sugar and vanilla and beat some more. Add eggs and mix until blended.

Alternate adding dry mix and lactose free milk a little at a time until everything is combined and you get an even bright pink color (no white swirls). Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes,  or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about five minutes,  then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the icing:

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup buttery spread
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup lactose free milk
About 2 pints fresh strawberries,  cleaned and cut in half

Blend the Crisco, buttery spread, and vanilla. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Once combined, add milk a little at a time until you have the consistency you want.

When you assemble the cake, top the bottom layer with icing and arrange strawberry slices in an even layer. Pop the second layer on top, frost, and then use the remaining strawberries to decorate the cake.



The cake was so good it completely disappeared. That middle layer of icing and strawberries is magical. Unfortunately, it was pretty warm and a smidge humid on Sunday, so my decorative strawberries started to migrate south before I snapped a pic. It was still a really good cake.


I was a bit afraid to really go for it with the strawberries in the middle, because I didn’t want it to be soggy… Turns out, it wasn’t soggy at all and I wish I had used more strawberries. That was pretty much my only regret…Besides forgetting to tell my mom to put bacon in the broccoli salad.

And then I bit into a cherry tomato and it squirted the birthday girl right on her white shirt, so basically I’m saying you just can’t take me anywhere.

A couple of nights ago, I made this chicken cordon bleu casserole  for dinner. It was something I discovered on Pinterest,  and even though I’m not a huge fan of ham I wanted to give it a shot. It turned out really well, and I only slightly altered the recipe by adding about a tablespoon of yellow mustard to the sauce (if you have dijon, that might be even better).

I wanted to make rice to go with it. I knew I had some mushrooms that needed to be used, and I still had a ton of fresh rosemary hanging out in my crisper.

This might be a good recipe to save for when you have leftover rice in the fridge. I didn’t, so I tried  a method for baking the rice that I also found on Pinterest. I used chicken broth and butter instead of water and oil…And I put a couple of sprigs of rosemary on top before covering it and putting it in the oven.

This method works wonderfully, even if you accidentally forget to turn the oven on because your toddler threw half of his snack on the floor. I think mine sat in the cold oven for half an hour before I remembered and turned the oven on. It was still fluffy and delicious.

Ok, so now that we’ve established that I’m a little (ok, a lot) scatterbrained,  onto the recipe!

Rosemary brown rice with mushrooms

About 2 cups prepared brown rice

About a cup of mushrooms, sliced

1/2 smallish red onion, diced

Olive oil

About a tablespoon butter

1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary

About 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

A wedge or two of lemon

Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium. Add butter, and when the pan is hot throw in the mushrooms and onions. Salt the mixture lightly, and sauté until mushrooms are browned and onions are soft. Pour in about half of the chicken broth, crack some pepper into the pan, and place the rosemary on top. Let it bubble until it reduces, then add the rest of your broth and let that reduce until it’s saucy. Squeeze in a little fresh lemon, remove the rosemary, then add your rice and stir.


This was awesome as a side dish, and I think it could be a really good main dish if you threw some meat or tofu in there.

Remember that super delicious herb marinated pork loin? Part of what I love about it is that you get lots of leftovers.  You could easily freeze some of it, or you can use the meat the next night. I like to use it all up, so Saturday I made some awesome barbecue sliders for a quick and easy dinner.

You can use any rolls or slider buns you like, but I had Hawaiian rolls leftover, so that’s what I used. I highly recommend using them for sandwiches…delish!

Pulled pork barbecue sliders

Hawaiian rolls

Leftover pork loin, pulled

Barbecue sauce

Cheese slices

Onions, pickles, banana peppers, etc…


Start by preheating your oven to 375° and lining a baking dish with foil. Make sure you have enough excess to fold over and seal so things get steamy.

Slice the Hawaiian rolls in half, then arrange the bottoms in the baking dish. Mix pulled pork and barbecue sauce (I used a combo of Sweet Baby Ray’s and Country Bob’s), then spoon the meat onto the rolls halves. Top with sliced cheese and whatever your heart desires (banana peppers FTW), pop the top halves on, and cover. Make sure to crimp the foil to seal it.

Bake until cheese is melty and everything is heated through… About 30 minutes, but possibly longer if you put a ton of meat on them like I did.

I served mine with a quick and easy pasta salad and chips. Because, lazy.



I’ve been kicking the idea of some kind of slow-roasted, herb-crusted pork loin around in my head for a couple of days now. I don’t know why, but it’s been a while since I made a pork loin. Even though the bacon-wrapped loin I made a while ago was delicious, I didn’t want to go that route.

Since we were having some nasty weather Thursday,  The BF came home just as I was feeding the boy lunch. I had planned to go to the store as soon as he finished, but since The BF was home I asked if he could hang out with the boy while I ran to town.

My Lord, guys…I can’t believe I used to shop by myself all the time. I took my time looking at the fresh herbs, and I actually spent a little while choosing a pork loin instead of grabbing the first one I got a hand on.

I was deep in thought looking at the pork loins when I happened to glance over at the cart. My heart stopped when I realized O was not sitting in the seat, and suddenly my mind was going a million miles a second. “Did he climb out? Did someone take him? JesusMaryandJoseph I have LOST MY CHILD. What THE HELL kind of mother looses her child in front of the meat case at the grocery store?! I had ONE job…”

…And then I remembered that he was hanging out at home with Daddy. Oops.

Anyway, the pork loin is so awesome that it’s almost worth the heart attack I had while picking it out. I suggest you plan to make this soon, but maybe just go ahead and take the kids shopping with you.

Herb marinated pork loin

1 2-3 pound pork loin (mine was close to three pounds)

About a handful each of the following fresh herbs:
Parsley (I used curly, but flat leaf is fine)

3 cloves garlic

A palm full of dried thyme (you could use fresh, but my store was out)

A palm full of dried minced onion

Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil

1 medium onion

1/2 cup chicken broth

Rinse the fresh herbs. Pat them dry, then toss them into a food processor along with the whole garlic cloves.


This baby food mini food processor was the best 20 bucks we spent. I still use it!

Pulse until everything is more or less demolished. Add a little olive oil (maybe a couple of tablespoons) and your dried thyme and onion. Pulse a few more times to really pulverize everything.

Place your hunk o’ pork into a gallon freezer bag. Spoon contents of processor on top of the pork, then grind a bunch of pepper over everything and toss a good palm full of sea or Kosher salt in. Drizzle in about 1/4 cup of olive oil (just eyeball it) and then rub everything into the meat. Don’t be afraid to really work it in. Get rid of the air in the bag, seal ‘er up, and park that pork in your fridge (bottom shelf, please) overnight.


🎶 Heeeeeeyyyy, good lookin' 🎶

After letting it marinate overnight, put the pork loin into your crock pot and add the medium onion, (cut into quarters) and chicken broth. Turn the crock pot to high, put a lid on it, and walk away. After about four hours, turn it to low and let it cook for another fiveish hours.


I served mine with roasted lemon pepper broccoli, fried potatoes, and Hawaiian rolls.



The best thing about this dinner? The leftovers last for days and are really versatile! I think we’ll either have pulled pork barbecue sliders (on Hawaiian rolls, of course) or pulled pork tacos for dinner tonight…

If The BF didn’t make a midnight snack out of the pork…You just never know with that guy.

After all of the cheese and heavy alfredo sauce in our French bread pizzas, I decided we should have something on the lighter side for dinner last night.


I’m a huge fan of pasta…My favorite way to eat it is with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of Parmesan.  The BF would likely be a bit confused if I put that in front of him, wondering why there was no meat. Happily, I think I found a way to keep it pretty simple and still satisfy the manly carnivore I live with.

Simple penne pasta

1/2 to 3/4 box penne pasta

Olive oil

About 1 tablespoon butter

1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves garlic,  minced

1 container grape tomatoes

About 3/4 cup mushrooms (or more if you love mushrooms), roughly chopped

Leftover rotisserie chicken

3-4 largeish basil leaves

Freshly cracked black pepper


Parmesan cheese

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium.  Add butter, onions, and whole grape tomatoes. Sauté until tomatoes begin to burst open. Add mushrooms,  chicken, and garlic, then season with salt and pepper. Let everything cook while you boil the pasta according to package directions.

Drain pasta, then add it to the skillet along with the basil (I chose to chiffonade mine, but feel free to just rip it up). Give everything a stir and let it cook for another five minutes or so. Serve topped with cheese, salad and garlic bread on the side.



Pretty quick, satisfying,  and it won’t leave you feeling like you swallowed a bowling ball. You could add any veggies you like, and if you don’t have rotisserie chicken just used baked chicken breast.

The boy cleaned his plate, and The BF ate two helpings. We have just enough leftover for O and I to have lunch today.

Too bad it’s only 10:30 am.

Yesterday was a rainy, cold, nasty day… The kind of day that just makes me feel like being lazy. I desperately needed to go to the store, though, and I had a lunch date with a good friend that I was really looking forward to.

I put on real pants and my favorite cozy sweater and headed to the new Japanese place to meet my friend and her darling girl. I got a Bento Box with soup, salad, a spring roll, 4 pieces of California roll, fried rice, and teriyaki scallops…Delicious!

After our lovely lunch, the boy and I headed to Wal-Mart for crochet thread and something for dinner. I wanted to make naan pizzas, but the bakery had no naan. I was really sad until a loaf of garlic and herb French bread caught my eye. Why not have French bread pizza instead?

I decided to do chicken alfredo pizzas, but you could use any sauce and topping combo under the sun.

Chicken alfredo French bread pizza

1 loaf French bread

The meat of 1 rotisserie chicken, pulled

Alfredo sauce (I used the jar but you could certainly make your own)

Fresh basil leaves

About 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced

Parmesan cheese

Italian blend shredded cheese

Banana pepper rings

Preheat your oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Slice bread in half lengthwise, then hollow it out to make room for the good stuff.

I mixed my alfredo sauce with Parmesan cheese, then spread it liberally over the bread halves. Lay out the basil leaves (as many as you like), then add onions and pulled rotisserie chicken. I added banana pepper rings to only my part of the pizza, because no one else understands that banana peppers belong on EVERYTHING.

Top with cheese, then pop into your oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. I turned the broiler on low when the timer went off so the cheese would get all brown and toasty. I think it took about 5 minutes, but just to be safe watch them like a hawk.


That is the best photo I could manage, because I had two hungry guys trying to get to the food.

Ok, O was in his high chair banging on his tray, so it was really just one guy attempting to move me out of the way. Still, I didn’t have time to even attempt to make it look pretty. Sorry about that.

I served these with a simple side salad, and The BF had Doritos, too…Because he apparently thinks you have to have chips with pizza. Dude is weird sometimes.

They took all of 30 minutes to make and they were super tasty. The only way to be lazier would be to buy the frozen, pre-made French Bread pizzas…but where’s the fun in that?

My Mother’s Day actually started on Saturday night. The BF has never been good at waiting to give presents and Mother’s Day was no exception.  He just gets so excited that I think he really might explode if he has to wait. So Saturday night, I got a bundt cake pan, a knitting book, some yarn, and a new coffee mug.

I was over the moon excited about all of my gifts, and I spent all day Sunday playing with my new toys.


I'm pretty sure coffee tastes better when you're drinking out of your new Mother's Day mug.


Brown sugar toffee cake with caramel sauce

After O had breakfast, The BF took him on a ranger ride around the property while I baked this (insanely delicious) cake. When they got back, they presented me with freshly picked wild flowers.


Learning to knit!


After dropping off my flowers, the boys zoomed off again so I could have some more peaceful quiet time. The cake was in the oven and I had the kitchen cleaned up, so I grabbed some scrap yarn and started to practice knitting.

I spent the rest of the morning sipping coffee and knitting, pausing once to put the boy down for his nap when they got back. I love that The BF so sweetly made sure that I got to have a little quiet time.

The BF was in and out for the rest of the day because he had a few things he wanted to get done before the work week started. One of which was washing my car because he’s awesome.

My brother, SIL, and niece stopped by for a visit and surprised me with flowers and a balloon. I was sad that I didn’t have anything to give my SIL, so I cut a big chunk of cake for them to take home.


My parents stopped by on their way to visit my Mamaw. O gave mom her card and I made them eat a piece of cake before cutting another big hunk for them to give to my Mamaw and Aunt.


Where did my cake go?!

The BF came home and showered, then played with the boy so I could take a super long, hot shower. I even shaved my legs!

We piled into the van and headed to dinner at Rancho Bravo, where I stuffed myself with chimichangas, fresh salsa, fresh guacamole, and a homemade hot sauce that is just out of this world. It’s also SUPER spicy, so I recommend it for anyone suffering from a stuffy nose.

We had the sweetest waitress…She complimented my perfume and didn’t bat an eye when the boy tried to share his food with her. As we were getting ready to leave, she brought me a rose and wished me a happy Mother’s Day.

We ended our day with a nice drive out in the country. O babbled and sang in the back until he finally gave up and went to sleep, while The BF and I chatted about all kinds of things.



I’m thinking that Mother’s Day might just officially be my favorite holiday. I’m also thinking I have some major planning to do so I can make sure The BF has a kick ass Father’s Day.


My kitchen window is full of Mother's Day flowers.

Here’s hoping that everyone I know had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I know I’ve only had two so far but I declare this one to be the best ever!

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?


Happy Mother’s Day to all of my fellow human jungle gyms, boo boo kissers, butt (and nose!) wipers, food fixers, tantrum calmer-downers,  huggers, and givers of love.

I hope you all have a beautiful day!

I’m really a little old person at heart… otherwise,  why would I get so excited about foods like cooked cabbage and beets? Seriously,  no one I know under the age of fifty looks at a menu and gets excited over fried okra. Well, except me.

Cooked cabbage is something I could eat at least once a week, but The BF tends to wrinkle his nose when I mention it. He’s not a fan of the way it smells when it’s cooking,  even though I happen to think it smells delicious.

I noticed that little heads of cabbage were on sale at the grocery the other day, and after realizing that I’ve never actually cooked cabbage for The BF, I decided that he was getting it for dinner. So there.

It’s so easy, and so tasty…You can make a ton of it and have leftovers for days (it gets better the longer it sits) or just make a skillet full for dinner like I did.

Smoked sausage with potatoes and cabbage

1 package smoked sausage, cut into thinish discs

About 6 slices of bacon

1 small onion, diced

1 small head of cabbage, cut into chunks

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

About 3/4 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper

To start, bake your bacon: line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil,  lay bacon on foil, put into a cold oven and turn to 375°. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then drain on paper towels.

Add about a tablespoon of the bacon grease to a skillet and heat over medium. Add onions and sausage and let cook while you prep the cabbage and taters.

Once the sausage has browned, add taters and cabbage and season. Pour about half of the chicken stock into the skillet, turn down to medium low, cover, and let simmer until potatoes are fork tender. Keep an eye on it, because you may need to add more chicken broth occasionally.

Just before serving,  crumble the bacon over everything. That way, you don’t end up with sad, soggy bacon.

Serve with crusty bread and cottage cheese (and corn, if your child is just crazy about the stuff like mine is).


It makes a super quick and easy weeknight dinner that will make your stomach happy.

And your toddler, who will cram it into his face by the fistful and then ask for, “Mo? Mo?”

So good news, y’all! The sinus spray worked some serious magic. I woke up Saturday morning feeling way more human than I had in days.

I visited my amazing hair woman, Tiffany, and had my hair done. She was kind enough to fit my mom in for a trim, too, even though she was hosting her daughter’s birthday party later that afternoon. I love that gal.


It’s kind of hard to tell exactly what it looked like, but it was super cute! Please ignore my smudged up mirror…O likes to get his fingers all over the glass when he’s up there brushing his teeth.

My niece’s first birthday was super fun. My brother and SIL did a great job with the food and favors, and I think everyone had a great time.


She really loved the butterflies.

Besides making the cake, I crocheted an owl and an elephant, and we got her a super cute blue dress that was decorated with strawberries. The BF picked the dress, because he’s awesome like that.


After the party, O went home with my parents so The BF and I could go party it up at our 15 year class reunion.


We had a really great time catching up with our old classmates. I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get to have dinner, but after waiting 45 minutes (and I’m not exaggerating) for an appetizer we just decided to wait and hit Taco Bell on the way home.

Side note: I understand that things happen, orders get lost, whatever… but we waited that long to get our food and barely got an apology,  then paid full price for it? Just one reason that we never eat at this particular establishment.

…I just realized that we totally forgot about our plan to get Taco Bell on the way home. Lame.

Anyway, while we were waiting for our food, the waitress asked if we got to see the raccoons fall out of the ceiling. I thought I was just so delirious from hunger that I was hearing things, but everyone else was eyeing her with the same WTF?! look on their faces. Apparently, about an hour before we got there, a ceiling tile moved and a raccoon fell out of the ceiling and onto a couple’s table.

I miss all of the good stuff.

We left around 11:30 and retrieved our boy, who was sound asleep after helping Grandpa look for golf balls all afternoon. He must have really been worn out, because he slept until 9:30 Sunday morning.

Not that I’m complaining.


Yesterday the boy spent some time playing in the back yard with dad. We capped off our weekend with a family trip to Wal-Mart, dinner at Super China Buffet, and a scary movie (after O went to bed, of course).

After spending most of last week feeling like someone was punching me in the face repeatedly, I was incredibly relieved and excited that the weekend went so well.

And don’t worry, Phlegm watch 2014 isn’t necessarily over. Tonight I have a date with a neti pot. That ought to be an interesting experience.


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