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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Grown-up's Grilled Cheese~Recipe Review

Adapted: Care's Kitchen

One guess where I came across this recipe! If you guessed Pinterest, you are right! There was something that was reminscent to me of a patty melt, so I knew I had to make it. This is made with deli roast beef it is a tad easier to make. As written, I had 4 whole sandwiches come out of this. These are really filling sandwiches though, so it is realistic that one could get 8 servings from them.

So, here we go:


8 slices of a really hearty bread. I used an Italian bread

1 lb Roast Beef
12 slices of cheese. I used American Cheese
1 sweet onion thinly sliced
1 T. butter
1/2 t. balsamic vinegar


1) Liberally butter slices of bread
2) Liberally spray non-stick frying pan with cooking spray.
3) Place butter and onion in pan. Allow to soften. This should take appr. 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place in bowl near frying pan. Clean pan.

3) Liberally spray with cooking spray. Allow pan to reheat. Place one slice of bread in frying pan and top with cheese. Give it some time to "bubble up" and top with 6 slices of roast beef and 2 Tablespoons of onions. Place second piece of bread on top of onions, buttered side up.

I know it isn't the best picture, but really wanted to give a shot of what it should look like
and my camera wouldn't cooperate!

4) VERY CAREFULLY, flip sandwich and allow side to brown. Trust me, they like to give a hard time!
5) Remove from pan and place in a 170 degree oven while preparing other sandwiches and the rest of the meal. This allows the sandwiches to heat through if anything was missed.
6) Cut and Serve! I served mine with Beer Soaked Fries and Baked Potato Chips (I had to get the healthiness in somewhere!)

My thoughts:

My family really enjoyed these but, even with the balsamic onions, felt they were lacking something. However, we decided that they would be "beefed up" (really, no pun intended) by smearing unbuttered side of bread with a french onion spread or even a chive cream cheese thinned with a tiny bit of milk. I will definitely do this next time I make these...and there will be a next time.

The other thing that stood out with this sandwich is that it would be very easy to play with the deli meat and cheeses they were made with. For example, a ham and swiss cheese sandwich or, how about a turkey, bacon and provalone. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Key Lime Pie Tinis

Key Lime Martinis: A Dessert in a 'Tini Glass
Top sure to do the add'l graham cracker crumbs

Side is even the color of Key Lime Pie!!

OK...I am a HUGE fan of 'em!! I am also a fan of Key Lime Pie. I have come across many a recipe for Key Lime Pie Martinis which are too "vodka(y)" in my humble opinion. Key Lime Pie has a smoothness and tartness to it and a strong vodka taste just doesn't fit into that.  So, my tastebuds demanded  that I come up with a new recipe and this is what I came up with...

Alright..I lied...a side note...I use fresh squeezed key lime juice in these drinks. Key limes are tiny little limes which are a tad sweeter than run of the mill limes. I have also made this with fresh squeezed lime juice and, although it works, it doesn't have the smoothness of key limes. Any concentrated lime juice is just simply a no-no!! It is way too strong and bitter!!

Whoopsie..lied again...It is imperative to prepare your martini glass and shaker. If I know I will be making drinks in the evening, I will place my martini glasses and shakers in my freezer or deep freeze. You always want your tinis to be ice cold.

  • 3 Oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 Oz Simple Syrup~ You can buy a bottle of simple syrup, but it is easier and WAY cheaper just to make it. All that simple syrup is made of is equal parts of granulated sugar and water which is boiled until the sugar melts and then is left to cool down.  Easy Peasy and cheap!!
  • 1.5 Oz Sweet/Sour Mix
  • 1.5 Oz Heavy Cream~This is basically a liquified whip cream.
To finish it off:
  • Crushed Graham Cracker Crumbs~for your rimmer and topping
  • Aerosol Whipped Cream~for the topping

1) Do a rimmer of key lime juice and crushed graham cracker crumbs. Return tini glass to freezer.

Rimmed 'tini glass

2) In a chilled shaker that has had ice added, pour all drink ingredients in. Put lid on shaker and shake for 60 seconds to get it nice and blended/chilled.

3) Remove glass from freezer and strain drink into tini glass. Top with whipped cream and more crushed graham crackers.


    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Beer...It's not just for drinking! BEER SOAKED FRIES!!

    Adapted: The Edible Perspective

    When I first joined Pinterest, one of my friends did a repin for Beer Soaked Fries. I was immediately intrigued and threw it on my recipe board. I had the opportunity to try a new sandwich today and knew that these fries would go beautifully with them so I waded in.

    I used Leinenkugal's 1888 Bock beer and was thrilled to death with the results. I had wanted a deeper, richer flavor from it and that is what I got. The original recipe used a lighter beer.  Also, I used my revamped Paula Deen House Seasoning instead of the seasonings the original recipe called for. I whipped up a helping of Pink Lady Sauce, which is simply mayo (I use fat free or low fat) and ketchup! How much more simpler can you get?? Please note, I tripled the original recipe...adjust as necessary for your family!

    My boys snatched them up and couldn't get enough. They ended up being gone by dinner for the most part so I had to supplement them with baked chips. Will I make these again?? DANG STRAIGHT, I WILL. They were a tad bit more expensive to make, but worth ever cent.

    So, here we go!


    9 Russet Potato, cut as shown
    3 bottles beer of your choice.
    6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    1.5 Tablespoon jarred minced garlic
    1.5 Tablespoons Paula Deen House Seasoning


    1) Cut potatoes as shown. I happen to like my fries a bit beefier, but they can be cut to the size desired. Cooking times simply needs to be adjusted.

    2) Place in a large bowl and pour beer over potatoes. Let potatoes marinade in beer for 1 hour. Stir several times to make sure potatoes are soaked! Drain.

    3) Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place potato slices on sheet and make sure they are laid out in a single layer.

    4) Bake in a 425 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring 2 times during cooking time.


    Pink Lady Sauce


    1/2 cup mayonnaise (regular, low fat or fat free)
    1/4 cup ketchup


    Place in bowl and stir!

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Iced Coffee (serves 1)


    As I was wandering around, which is a pretty common thing for me to do, I came across a recipe for Iced Coffee. Now, I love Iced Coffee, I just don't like paying the costs for it at Starbucks or places like it. This recipe intrigued me. Could it be the same?? Could I quit depriving myself?? How could I play with the recipe to make it my own?? Well, I found out the answer to all 3 of my questions! I am going to give the original recipe for a low-fat version which is beautiful for everyday use. Then, I will give my recipe with several variations. All were superb!

    So, here we go!

    Original recipe:

    2 t. Instant Coffee
    1 T. sweetner of your choice (sugar, equal, etc)
    3 T. warm water
    6 oz. fat free milk


    1) In a mason jar or any jar with a tight fitting lid, place first 3 ingredients. Shake for approximately 30 seconds to ensure ingredients are blended.

    2) Put ice and 6 oz of milk in jar and reseal.  Want a variation, this is when those flavorings would be added. Shake for 60 seconds and pour into glass.

    Naomi's recipe for full fat version (not one to be drank everyday and not shown!):

    Prepare as same above, but substitue 6 oz of whole milk or half and half for fat free milk.

    Variations (works with either non fat or full fat recipes):

    Mocha Iced Coffee: Place 1 T. chocolate syrup in first step and continue as usual. Top with whipped cream and drizzle chocolate syrup
    Caramel Iced Coffee: Same as above, substitute caramel topping for chocolate syrup
    Flavored Coffee Creamers: I have been known to throw in some flavored creamer as well.

    Alcoholic Variations (serves 2)

    Disaronno Iced Coffee: Place 2 oz of DiSaronno in first step. Continue as usual. Top with whipped cream
    Kahlua Iced Coffee: Place 2 oz of any flavor of Kahlua and continue as usual.

    Note: Alcoholic Variations could be used as an after dinner drink. They should only be used with half and half to carry the alcohol.

    Crockpot Baked Potatoes

    I love the simplicity of this recipe. This is so simple because it is basically 3 ingredients wrapped up and placed in a crockpot to cook for the day.Since I switched to Paula Deen's House Seasoning, it has become even simpler.  I have prepared the potatoes the night before and threw them in the crock on my way out for the day. It is even easy to increase the number of potatoes and all that the preparer needs to do is make sure the crock can handle all the potatoes!

    So, here we go:

    Baking potatoes
    Olive oil
    Paula Deen's House Seasoning


    1) Cut number of tinfoil sheets to the number of potatoes
    2) Thoroughly wash and scrub potatoes. Dry
    3) Poke potatoes with fork
    4) Place potatoes on tinfoil sheets and cover with approx. 1 tablespoon of olive oil per potato. Then sprinkle with House Seasoning. Wrap

    5) Place in Crockpot and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Potatoes are finished when a knife goes through potato easily.
    6) Top with your favorite toppings.

    Note: If my potatoes have finished before the rest of my meal, I have been known to take them out of the crockpot and put them in a 170 degree oven until rest of meal is done.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Boudreaux's Zydeco Stomp Gumbo

    Look at 'dem shrimp and Andouille! Yummers!!
    Top View

    Adapted: (

    In my 12 hour cooking marathon on Fat Tuesday, I inadvertently omitted the best recipe I had made of the day.  This gumbo was probably the best one I have ever made!The boys went nuts and ate two bowls Tuesday night alone. It was even better the next day with friends chowing it down.

    This is definitely a recipe that will stick around. I ended up adding additional meat, though, as I thought the meat measurements in the original recipe was kind of lean! Also, the recipe, as written, was a bit too thin. I decreased the amount of "liquid" going into the recipe.

    So, here we go~


    2 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - chopped
    4 Andouille sausage, cut into chunks
    1 cup olive oil
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    2-3 quarts chicken broth
    1 (12 fluid ounce) AMBER beer. I used Leinenkugel's Amber
    6 stalks celery, diced
    1 can canned diced tomatoes
    1 sweet onion, sliced
    1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, with liquid, such as rotel
    1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
    1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
    1 pound RAW shrimp, peeled and deveined


    1) Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat, and cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in sausage, and cook until evenly browned. Set aside.
    2) In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, blend olive oil and flour to create a roux. Stir constantly until browned and bubbly. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ROUX. IT SHOULD BE THE COLOR OF PEANUT BUTTER...DON'T SCRIMP ON IT!
     3) Mix in garlic into roux, and cook about 1 minute. 
    4) Gradually stir chicken broth and beer into the roux mixture. Bring to a boil, and mix in celery, tomatoes, sweet onion, diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring often. 
    5) Mix chicken, sausage, and shrimp into the broth mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

    6) Serve over hot, white rice!

    Serve with Frank's hot sauce, cold beer and corn bread!!

    Carl's Coffee

    We have a restaurant in our town called Art and Alma's,  Century Inn. This restaurant is as old as the town itself. Although the food is really good, the bar is great! They have a bartender there by the name of Brenda. Brenda came to Burlington by way of a snazzy restaurant in Denver. Let's just say that she is quite the mixologist and I love to pick her brain.

    Pat and I had meandered in there for dinner one night and stopped by the bar on our way out to grab a drink before the walk back home. Looking up on the "bar board", I noticed a drink called "Carl's Coffee" and it got me to wonderin'. I asked Brenda what it was... she described it...I ordered it and the rest is history.

    Now, poor Brenda,who as I said is a mixologist, not your run of the mill bartender or drink pourer, can never get away from me asking 50 million questions, as she is making my drinks (or anyone elses drinks, for that matter) and this drink was no different. I am almost like a five year old child with the "what, who, why and where" questions. If it was me, I would have been diving into the back room when I saw me mosey up to the bar, but not Brenda. She is a trooper and answers my questions!!

    So, thanks to Carl who gave the recipe to Brenda and here we go:

    Ahhh, just playin'....A few pointers first:

    1) Use a clear glass coffee mug, if available. This is a beautiful drink and it really needs to be shown off.

    2) You are not limited to  the Kahlua mentioned in the "formal" recipe and,  in fact, the real recipe calls for Tia Maria. I didn't have it at the time and found out the Kahlua and Tia Maria are basically the same type of liqueur. One is from Jamaica (Tia Maria) and one is from Mexico. OK, enough for the liqueur lessons! I have also used the flavors of Kahlua (although the cream based ones detract from the beauty of this drink), Di Sarrono and Frangelico.

    3) Be sure to use heavy whipping cream, NOT HALF AND HALF!! Trust me, the first time I made this, I screwed it up and used the half and half!

    Now, here we go:


    5 oz HOT coffee
    1 shot Kahlua, Tia Marie, Frangelico or DiSaronno~whichever you are in the mood for!
    1 T. brown sugar
    Heavy creamer


    1. Place brown sugar and liqueur in the mug. Stir to blend.
    2. Pour in coffee

    3. Place tip of spoon in coffee..just enough to break surface tension.
    4. Slowly pour heavy cream over back of spoon to create layering effect. I went a bit crazy with the cream above to show how it should look. The amount of cream should actually be about 1/4 of a cup!
    5. ENJOY!

    Recipe Reviews~ Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

    Adapted: 365 Days of Slow Cooking

    I came across this recipe on Pinterest while searching for crockpot recipes. It intrigued me enough that I knew that I had to try it. I am not sorry I did. This soup was fantastic. Partnered with a roll, not only would this be an every day meal, but would easily transfer to a "dinner party" course. This soup is minimum a four star, but closer to 5 stars. It does take some work, but is well worth it!

    The recipe listed below is my version. I have listed the link to the original version above.

    So, here we go:


    2 cans or 28 oz diced tomatoes, with juice
    1 1/2 cup roughly chopped celery
    1 1/2 cup roughly carrots
    1 1/2 cup roughly chopped onions
    2 tsp dried oregano
    1/3 cup fresh basil
    1 QT chicken stock
    1 bay leaf
    ½ cup flour
    3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
    ½ cup butter
    2 cups half and half, warmed
    ¼ tsp black pepper

    1. Place tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, oregano, basil, chicken stock and bay leaf in a 4 qt crockpot.

    2. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Vegetables should be somewhat soft. Because I coarsely chopped mine and the original recipe called for them to be finely diced, I had to increase my first cooking time. Cooking time is really dependent on how vegetables are chopped.
    3.  Thirty minutes before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. The roux should almost be the color of peanut butter when it is done cooking.
    4. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Then, add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Add this back to the slow cooker. Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, and pepper.  
    5. The original recipe called for adding more basil and oregano if needed. I did extra in the beginning, so I really didn't feel it was necessary, but it is up to personal preference.

    Serving suggestion: To serve for a dinner event, do a small circle of warmed half and half on top of soup. Top with shredded parmesan cheese and extra shredded basil.

    Serving suggestion: This recipe is made with heavy cream which, obviously, is very fattening. The original recipe states that the recipe can also be made with low-fat milk. I agree with the original recipe that this would be acceptable when using it for an "everyday meal", but, due to the loss in the richness of the soup, would not suggest doing that for a dinner party soup.

    Serving suggestion: Next time, I will add a bag of baby spinach about 30 minutes before moving to the "roux" stage.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Lasagna Rolls

    Adapted: My Kitchen Apron

    I love lasagna, but let's face it, it can be a really time consuming dish to make, if it is made well. So, in order to get my lasagna in a really quick way, I have really grown fond of lasagna rolls, so if I see a simple one that looks delicious, I am all over it! My original lasagna roll recipe contains no meat and spinach. While that is fine with me, the boys tend to grimace and grumble. So, during a digging around Pinterest session, I found another recipe that uses ground sausage which is my favorite meat to use in lasagna. I knew it was calling me to try it!


    1 lb Italian Sausage
    1 small onion
    5 garlic cloves, minced
    10 Lasagna Noodles
    3 cups mozzarella cheese, divided

    1 Can 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
    1 T. Oregano
    1/2 T. Paula Deen House Seasoning (see blog 02/17/2012)

    1 Container Ricotta Cheese
    1 Egg
    1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
    1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese (keep separate)


    1) Prepare sauce by mixing all sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and let simmer for 1/2 an hour
    2) Brown sausage with onion and garlic. Drain. Mix into sauce.

    3) In very large pot with salted water, cook lasagna noodle for 12-14 minutes. Drain and lay out on cutting board
    4) Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by spraying liberally with non-stick spray (you knew it was coming!) and then 1.5 cups of the sauce mix.
    5) Mix ingredients for filling, except mozzerella cheese.
    6) Spread 1/4 cup of filling down noodle and sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Roll as tightly as possible. Continue with all 10 lasagna noodles.

    7) Place all rolls in the pan and top with the remainder of the sauce.

    8) Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining 2 cups of cheese and bake for another 15 minutes.

    9) Remove from oven and let sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

    On a final note: I vary on how saucy I like my lasagna rolls. Sometimes I like it oozing sauce and sometimes I like it a bit on the dry side. This recipe was a bit on the dry side. If you like it saucier, simply increase the sauce ingredients by one half or double them. 

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Mardi Gras Alcoholic Drinks~ A Sampling

    Here are some different other than your standard "Hurricane" drink. I would have loved to have had a "real" hurricane glass, but try to find a hurricane glass in Illinois in the middle of winter!! ; )

    DiSaronno Hurricane (from the DiSaronno Website)

    ¾ part DISARONNO
    ½ part White rum
    ¾ part Dark rum
    2 parts Passion fruit juice
    2 parts Sweet & Sour mix
    ½ part Grenadine

    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

    Bayou Ble (my own concoction)

    1 Shot citrus vodka
    1 shot hypnotique
    1 shot ruby red grapefruit juice
    1 shot pineapple juice
    1 oz blue curacao

    Place all ingredients into a shaker and shake for 60 seconds. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange slice.

    Voodoo Moon Dance (from Yahoo Voice)

    1 ½ ounces Myers Jamaican Rum
    1 ounce of Bacardi Light Rum
    ¾ ounces of grenadine
    1 ½ ounces of pineapple juice
    1 ½ ounce of grapefruit juice


    1) Pour first 5 ingredients in a shaker. Shake for 60 seconds. Pour into a glass with ice.
    2) Add club soda and stir.
    3) Float a 1/2 ounce of light rum
    4) Garnish with sliced orange and cherry.

    Bacon Wrapped Cajun Shrimp

    Adapted: Yahoo Voices


    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 teaspoons paprika
    1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, curry powder
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 


    18 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
    9 bacon strips



     1) Cook bacon in pan or oven until just starting to cook. I usually do about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Immediately remove from oven and drain on paper towels. Cut bacon in half widthwise. Set aside.

    2) Combine marinade ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup for marinade and set aside remaining.

    3) Place shrimp in a glass bowl and cover with 1/4 cup marinade. Stir to ensure cover of all the shrimp. Cover with saran wrap and place in refrig for a minimum of 30 minutes.

    4) After marinading, remove shrimp and drain. Wrap each shrimp in bacon and secure with a toothpick.

    Ready for the cookie sheet!

    5) Original recipe calls for shrimp to be cooked  ON TOP OF A COOLING RACK PLACED ON COOKIE SHEET in a 350 degree oven.  Bake until cooked basting with remaining marinade.

    Heat your oven to 350 degrees. take the extra rack out of the oven to give you extra space. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Set your prepared bacon wrapped shrimp onto rack and bake until shrimp turns pink. during this cooking time, be sure to turn and baste with remaining marinade.

    Optional, step 5

    5) I love my bacon shrimp grilled.It is a staple during Chicago Bears Sofa Tailgating Season.  This was no exception. Grilling bacon shrimp really makes it pop! Follow the same steps of grilling until the shrimp turns that yummy pink and bacon is more crisp. Remember to continue to baste with the reserved marinade.

    Six Sisters' Recipe Review~ Sweet Cornbread Cake Muffins

    Adapted: Six Sisters Stuff Blog
    Original Link:

    One of my Goodreads friends introduced me to the Six Sisters blog and I must say that I became hooked. I have made numerous of their recipes and all have turned out very well.  With today being Fat Tuesday and gumbo on the stove, I wanted to make a bread which would compliment the gumbo. I must say that this recipe intrigued me so I decided to throw it on the menu. The other thing that I liked about it was that it makes approximately 120 mini muffins, so, bonus, I have extra muffins to throw in the freezer, packed in individual meal amounts, for other dinners, such as chili.

    Can I just say that once again, the Sisters did not disappoint! These muffins were sweet, moist and just downright good. They will accent my dishes well and will go into my breads rotation! So, A big thanks to the Sisters for an AWESOME recipe. On a side note, I did also make the honey butter posted on their site to go with my muffins. It was simple and took the muffins from *WOW* to *POW*

    So, here we go...


    2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
    1 box Yellow Cake Mix

    Ingredients  on back of boxes (water, eggs, oil, milk)...


    Place 2 boxes and 1 box cake mix in large bowl. Add each of the ingredients on the back of the boxes. For example, I used 5 eggs; 1 cup water; 2/3 cup milk; 1/3 cup oil.

    Mix the ingredients together utilizing mix master according to the back of the cake box.

    Use either a full muffin pan or a mini muffin pan. For full muffin, utilize cooking instructions on back of the box for the cupcakes. Mini muffins cook for 12 minutes.

    NOTE: I did the mini muffins and, at first, used a prepared pan. Even with preparing the pan well, the muffins still stuck. As a result, I used mini muffin liners and was much happier with the outcome. I also made sure to use my small cookie scoop which is approximately 1.5 teaspoons.

    Mardi Gras Vegetable Dip

    When I came across the original recipe that this dish is based on, I knew I had to make it. When I made the original recipe, though, it definitely left alot to be desired.  It was too spicy, salty, full fat and , in my humble opinion, the flavors didn't blend well.  I did think that the title of the recipe and the concept had potential, so I started playing. It is important to note that this recipe does not have any additional salt. The salt content will come in through the worcestershire sauce and the creole seasoning.

    I do get my veggies in. I love veggies and can go through almost an entire bag of baby carrots a day! I love to partner fruit and vegetables up with a low fat dip or switch out ingredients which are classified as low fat for full fat ingredients and this recipe was no different. I also halved this recipe as I will be making a huge Fat Tuesday dinner tonight.

    This will be a staple in my dips, as it was tasty and different from most dips I have tried. I could also see this being used as a salad dressing.

    So, here we go:


    1 cup light or fat free mayonnaise ( I used light)
    3 tbsp. finely chopped onion 
    1/2 tsp. vinegar 
    1 tbsp. chopped chives 
    1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
    1/2 tbsp lemon juice
    1/4 tsp. pepper 
    1 tbsp. Creole seasonings (or to taste. I actually bumped up the amount because I like Creole spiciness)


    1) Mix all ingredients together and cover.

    2) Place into the fridge until you are ready to use. I like to give it enough time to really give the flavors to blend.

    Mardi Gras Kisses

    One of Pat's favorite anything is chocolate and peanut butter. Anytime I have a chance, I make him these cookies. I rolled them in green sugar to celebrate Mardi Gras. These cookies are so easy to make. To keep the "kiss" shape, I throw batches in the freezer for a short period of time to set the chocolates.

    Adapted: Pinterest

     1 Bag Hershey Kisses- Unwrapped
     1/2 cup shortening
    3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
     1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    colored sugars (optional)

    1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl. Add 1/3 cup granulated and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into mixture.
    3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar, if desired; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
    4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Place batches in freezer to cool, but not freeze. This will immediately "set" the kiss!
    Idea from a magazine and on line somewhere!

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    King Baby Cupcakes

    Adapted: Mardi Gras Outlet and

    When I had first come to Pinterest, I came across the recipe for King Baby Cupcakes and I knew it was something I would have fun making. So I eagerly awaited for my Mardi Gras menu cooking day and made sure that they were on them. Things started to fall apart last week, but I was destined to make it work. I had to have these little babies, so what did I do? I improvised! I promised the readers of this blog the good, bad and the ugly...this def. fell into one of the last two! ; )

    The original recipe calls for a plastic baby to be placed upon each cupcake. My king babies are floating around postal land right now and weren't here on time. I looked high and low for substitutes, but none were to be no king babies. That doesn't mean that there isn't a surprise in a couple of the cupcakes. Six lucky recipients will get an extra "kiss" with theirs. I placed 6 Hershey Kisses in my baking cups. Next, I wanted to try a new icing recipe. Although I loved the icing recipe, it didn't like my icing again, I had to improvise with my decorations. They didn't turn out exactly as I would have wished, but I think they will make it!  One thing I must say though..what they lack in prettiness, THEY MAKE UP IN TASTE! These were the tastiest little cakes I have had in a long time! This will def. become a recipe for me that I use throughout the year and don't limit to Mardi Gras time.

    So, here we go:


    1 box yellow cake mix prepared according to directions on the back
    Add 1 t. cinnamon added to prepared mix
    Hersheys Kisses


    1) Prepare cupcake pan by placing liners in cups
    2) Unwrap and place as many hershey kisses in the pan. I did 6 kisses

    3) Fill each cup approximately 3/4 cup full
    4) Bake as directed
    5) Remove from oven and pan and let cool...give the cupcakes time to cool thoroughly


    Icing Ingredients:

    4 cups powdered sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    4-6 tablespoons creamer
    1 stick butter melted
    Food coloring
    Decorator's sugar(clear)


    Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use mix master, mix until well blended.
    2) Remove approximately 1/2 cup each and place in 3 separate bowls

    3) Add yellow, green and purple food colorings respectively and mix well. Decorate as you like. Sprinkle with decorator's sugar to set frosting.

    Let the good times roll!!

    I love Mardi Gras...always have and always will. I love the magic and mystery of it. I love the interaction of diverse groups of people with it. AND, of course, I love the food and drink of it. Mardi Gras is tomorrow and since I won't be heading to the Big Easy to celebrate it, I am bringing the big easy to little old Burlington, Illinois! Between today and tomorrow, all my posts will focus on Mardi Gras themed recipes for both food and drink.

    On my menu:

    Alcoholic Drinks:

    New Orleans Fizz
    DiSaronno Hurricanes
    Bayou Bles (Blues)


    Cajun Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
    Vegetables with a Peppery Dip

    Main Dish:

    Boudreaux's Zydeco Stomp Gumbo
    Sweet corn bread cake muffins with honey butter (Recipe Review)


    King Baby Cupcakes
    Mardi Gras Kisses

    I hope you come along for the ride and

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    How do you rim yours?? A Primer on rimming alcoholic drinks

    As I have said in my posts before...I luurrvvee ' a result, I love rimmers. Rimmers take a drink from "wow" to "POW" in 10 seconds flat. One can be as creative with their rimmer as they can their drink because there are rimmers for every season and, I swear, every drink.

    What type of rimmers are out there:

    *Cocktail rimmers~I swear that is what they are called. They range from bloody mary rimmers to umpteen martini rimmers. They can be purchased at liquor stores and most grocery stores that sell alcohol.
    *Celery salt~This is my choice of rimmer for my bloody mary. It is simple and doesn't detract from the drink like I have seen with a couple of bloody mary rimmers which are on the market for a whole lot more money
    * Colored sugars~ These are just your holiday baking sugars in a number of different colors
    * Flavored sugars~ These can be a bit more difficult to find, so I grab them whenever I can
    * Margarita salt~ It is just not for margaritas. I use it for all of my tequila drinks which call for a salted rim. It is heavier duty and coarser than table salt.
    * Sweetened cocoa~ Is used for my drinks which are cream and/or chocolate based.
    * Ground Graham Cracker Crumbs~ This is all I use for my "pie" tinis! Awesome, Simply Awesome!
    * Ground Spice Cookies~ I use this for a number of my holiday drinks to give them that extra specialness.

    So, first, a quick primer in how to rim:

    1) Like the saying "PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!" My saying is "martini glasses MUST be cold"! Like a chunk of my barware, there is a spot in the deep freezer for it, but, while some can be rotated out depending on space issues, this isn't the case with your tini glasses. I equate putting ice cubes in martinis to putting them in red wine...Faux Pas, Paux Pas, Faux Pas!! Alright, off my soap box!

    2) Next, pour a liquid into a dish wide enough to accept the whole rim of the tini glass. I actually grabbed a container that my son's fried rice came in and washed it 50 million times to make sure there was no extra flavorings to my juice. Normally, I choose to use fresh lime juice (note: not concentrated).

    3) Take out a piece of wax paper, freezer paper or parchment paper and tape it to your table counter or wherever you plan on making your tinis. Next, take your rimmer choice and pour some onto the paper.

    4) Take your glass out of the freezer.  Dip the glass in the liquid and then roll it in your rimmer. now have a restaurant quality rimmer.

    First dip in liquid such as lime juice..then

    roll in rimmer of choice

    5) Immediately return the glass to the freezer while you make your drink. When the drink is made, remove glass from freezer and pour the drink into the glass. Aim for the center of the glass, so none of the rimmer comes off.
    Graham Cracker Rimmer

    Pomegranate Tini Rimmer

    What results is a restaurant quality drink that can run as much as $12 in a restaurant for a smidgen of the cost!