Saturday, October 30, 2010


  Last Halloween I was going  to a neighborhood Halloween party, so I found the Graveyard cake recipe to take to the party..  I really wasn't into baking cupcakes then, so I decided on the cake.  The cake is baked in a 9X13 pan, putting on a light chocolate glaze, and topping the cake with crushed Oreo cookies for the dirt. Some of you may recognize the cake recipe as "Chocolate Sheet cake", or "Texas Sheet Cake".  I have made the cake recipe hundreds of times, but never in a 9X13 pan.  I always used a 10X15x1 or jelly roll pan. The cake recipe turned out perfectly.

Now comes the 'Spooky" part.  You can use Milano cookies  for tombstones and decorate with sayings or names in frosting.  I bought Peeps ghosts, instead of whipped topping ghosts, because I new that the cake would be sitting out at the party.  I really don't do scary, I don't even watch scary movies, or TV programs,and you would never see me at a haunted house, so I didn't put on the gummy worms, eew!  Candy corn and pumpkins complete the graveyard.  Did I mention previously that I love candy corn:).  Here is the recipe that I adapted from  Taste of Home.   HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 18 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • Green and brown decorator's icing or gel
  • 9 cream-filled oval vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 1 cup whipped topping-I didn't use
  • Pumpkin candies and gummy worms, optional I didn't use gummy worms


  • In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a saucepan, combine butter, water and cocoa; bring to a boil over medium heat. Add to flour mixture; beat well. Beat in sour cream and eggs.
  • Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 35-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine butter, milk and cocoa; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat; stir in sugar and vanilla. Pour over warm cake.Crush chocolate cookies; sprinkle over frosting while still warm. Cool completely.
  • For tombstone, use icing to decorate vanilla cookies with words or faces; place on cake. For ghosts, make mounds of whipped topping; use icing to add eyes and mouths as desired or use Peeps ghosts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, if you make whipped topping ghosts. Just before serving, add pumpkins and gummy worms if desired. Yield: 16 servings.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon in a Pumpkin , Would Julia Approve?

For several years now, we have made Pumpkin Stew, as a rite of Fall.. Pumpkin Stew, for those of you who don't know, is Beef Stew cooked on the stove or oven, and then placed in a cleaned out pumpkin, which has been rubbed with cooking oil. You bake the pumpkin and the stew, just until the pumpkin is soft inside, so when you scoop out the stew, you get a spoonful of baked pumpkin,  The stew just stays warm in the pumpkin. Yum! This year however, my Husband wanted to make Julia Child's/Boeuf Bourguignon recipe and put in the pumpkin. Would Julia be turning over in her grave? Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe in a baked pumpkin, Mon Dieu!  What would happen to the flavor of the carefully browned mushrooms, the braised mushrooms and beef, and the simmered bacon? After all, making Julia's recipe is a lengthy process, sometimes a two day affair. I'm here to tell you that I think that the baked pumpkin enhanced the flavor of the deep brown sauce, laced with wine, if possible. My husband used Boston roast and trimmed and cubed his own meat. He also used more carrots, because we like lots of carrots. To cook the stew, we used this vessel, my Le Creuset, "French oven", that my sons gave to me.  I love the red ombre color.

After all of the ingredients have been cooked per recipe, the stew bakes in the oven 2-3 hours.then the stew is transferred from the French oven to the oiled pumpkin, and placed in the oven to bake until the pumpkin is soft inside, about 2 hours (do not over bake). Here is the wonderful Boeuf Bourguignon after many hours of cooking.  It is definitely a labor of love. Bon Appetit!

Now if you don't have the time to make Julia's recipe, or you don't want to,  here is the original recipe that we started making several years ago, Pumkin Stew from Taste of Home.  This recipe adds potatoes and diced tomatoes, a basic stew recipe, but very good none the less, and less time consuming.  You're the cook
so you can decide which version of stew you like, and you won't be disappointed with either one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jars of Love

 I was the lucky  recipient of two jars of Love this week.. What are jars of Love, you ask.. I'll tell you. jars of Love are goodies that friends or family make with Love, and pass on to others. These jars can be any fruit or vegetable canned, or any baked goods.  The jar on the left is chunky applesauce, made from the apples in my friend Anne's tree.the applesauce is awaiting fluffy pancakes with cinnamon.  The jar on the right is Door County Cherry Jam made by my friend, Carolyn and her sister, Janet..  For those you not from the Midwest, Door County  is in Northern Wisconsin. Many people migrate to Northern Wisconsin each summer to get the wonderful cherries, but now a local Chicago land grocery store sells frozen containers full of the ruby delights.  As you can see we have already opened the cherry jam, enjoying it on our morning whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter.

To the people, like me that don't do canning, fresh made canned goods are wonderful.  I take that back, before my husband's heart surgery, we made Lime pickles.  The recipe was from my 80yr old aunt, who had always made them, and they were like a family treasure. It was a two day process but well worth the work. Unfortunately, those pickled had a very high sodium content, so we don't make them any more.  Maybe that's why when someone gives us a jar of Love, we appreciate the gift so much.  I'll continue to bake the cookies, muffins, cupcakes, brownies etc., and give some of those gifts of love away, but somehow the jars of Love hold a special place in my heart. So for those of  you who do the canning of the fruits and vegetables, keep doing what you're doing, because when you give a jar away, it becomes a jar of Love to the recipient.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Friday Ritual, A Mango Margarita, and An Award

Most Fridays my Husband and  I have a Friday Ritual to kick off the weekend, if we aren't going out for the evening.  We have fresh guacamole, ground turkey, browned, and I have a Mango Margarita.  My husband has his dark rum.  I love anything mango, drinks, salads, grilled, in baked goods, and especially  a home made, fresh, mango margarita.. There are really very few ingredients and it can be made quickly. So, here we go, and get your cocktail shaker ready. 

Fill your cocktail shaker 2/3 full of crushed ice. Peel and dice 1 ripe mango.  A mango is ripe when it turns ruby red and soft to the touch. Place diced mango in a pan and use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree. One half of large mango, pureed is enough for one drink.  In cocktail shaker squeeze juice of a lime
wedge,. add 1 to 1/12 shots of good tequila, 1 shot of Triple Sec, and half of mango puree.  Put top and shaker and do a happy dance, because it's Friday.   Now,  most people like salt on the rims of their margarita
glasses.  I don't like salt, so I don't do that,  but if you like the salt on your glass, do it now. Then pour   Margarita in to the glass and enjoy, It's Friday, TGIF!

I was very fortunate and surprised to receive this award from Christiane, from Taking on Recipes One Magazine At a Time.  Christiane was my guest blogger a couple of weeks ago.   For those of you who don't know about her,  please check out her blog. She has  a wonderful style, writing  from her heart, and sprinkled with humor, especially when she writes about "adventures with her daughter,  I humbly accept this award, Christiane, and " Thank you " for considering me worthy of the award and your friendship. Also, thank you to all my blogger friends, who all mean so much to me.  I want to especially thank Monet, for commenting on my blog during her family crisis, as many of you know, is such a difficult time for her and her family. 

Here are the rules of the award:
1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link, and thank them.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers, whose bogs you admire.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

So with the formalities out of the way, I'm passing this award on to the the following  fifteen wonderful blogger friends.

Carla's Tasty Treats
My Tasty Handbook
Moogie & Pap
The Red Spoon
Healthy Coconut
Ravenous Rowie
Cherry Tea Cakes
Chicago Cuisine Critique
What's For Dinner?
My Barbarian Table
Kitchen Konfidence
My Year On The Grill

The wonderful part of blogging is making wonderful friends and reading lovely and inspiring blogs, each different in their own write, pun intended!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Cider Muffins with Cider Walnut Glaze

Fall is definitely here in Chicago Land.  We have been  having "normal temperatures for this time of year.  It isn't Fall for me until I have had my first glass of apple cider, piping hot with a cinnamon stick, and candy corn.  I know that I'm a little behind the schedule, but I've been busy with Dr. Appts.. Because I already made Oatmeal Apple Muffins, what other Fall flavor goes well with Cider, and the answer is pumpkin.  I  bought a can of pumpkin at the grocery store last week, and had been perusing various pumpkin recipes, and then got the idea to pair pumpkin and apple cider, two of my favorite fall flavors.  No wonder, Fall is my favorite season. This Pumpkin Cider Muffin with Cider Walnut Glaze has all of the pumpkin spices, as well as the cider.  Then the glaze has cider and walnuts, mmm.  Below is a picture of two of my fall favorites.

So getting back to the muffins, here is the recipe that I adapted from


1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. apple cider
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cooked pumpkin
1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda,  spices, and salt. Mix well. In separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Pour into muffin tins, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until pick inserted, comes out clean.


2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp. apple cider
1/3 c. walnuts, finely chopped

Combine powdered sugar and cider in bowl until desired consistency.  May have to add more powdered sugar or cider to get desired consistency.  Spread glaze with spoon Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I've Been Tagged- So I Guess That I'm It

I was tagged by the Mom Chef.  This is a "game" of Tag, and when you have been tagged, you have to answer eight worldly questions, if you choose.  Then you get to "tag" eight of your blogger friends to answer eight of  your worldly questions. this is just a fun way to learn more about the blogs and the blogger behind the screen.

 These are the questions I was given to answer.
1. What's the best live event (concert, comedian, etc.) that you've ever attended and when/why?
     I went to a Neil Diamond concert the Saturday after 9/11 in Chicago. It was so moving and emotional    because of what our country had just been through.  I will never forget that concert.

2. If you were given the opportunity to cook alongside any one professional chef, who would it be?            
    I would like to cook with Rick Bayless

3.When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Are you doing that? If not, what?
    I wanted to be a teacher.  I did teach before I had my family, but I'm retired now and blogging:)

4. If your house was on fire, what one item would you grab from the kitchen to save?
     I would save my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

5.  Coke or Pepsi? Coke

6. How many years have you been friends with the person you've known the longest?
     My parents were friends with a couple who had three girls and the middle girl was my age and we joke       that we have known each other since before we were born, and that would be 62 yrs.

7. What food dish do you consider the most daunting and have not yet gotten up the courage to attempt it yet?  That would be anything baked with yeast.  I have made King cake with yeast, and it did turn out. The fast rising yeast speeds up the process a bit. I just need more practice with yeast.

8. If you were an animal, what would you be?
    I would be my Cockapoo, Bailey, because she is spoiled rotten.  She naps several times a day, and is most happy when she is on our bed with the pillows and  blankets.  She is a "Princess", but so adorable.  She has a great life with a one acre yard to play in and chase the deer and squirrels. She sits and looks out the windows to survey her "kingdom" and bark at the birds.  Such a life.
    Here are my 8 questions for you to answer:
1) Who is the person that has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
2) What is your favorite Family activity, besides cooking or eating?
3) What is the last book or magazine that you read?
4) What is your favorite color?
5) What do you do for your "me" time?
6) Who if your BFF, and why?
7) What is your favorite go-to dish to cook or bake?
8) What is your favorite utensil or gadget in your kitchen, that you could not live without?

My 8 blogging friends that have now been tagged!

What's for dinner Across State Lines
5 Star Foodie
Tasty Trials
Winos and Foodies
Liv Life
Black Book Kitchen Diaries
Foy Update

Please let me know when you have answered the questions. Lastly, I understand that this game isn't for everyone, so if you choose not to do it, that's OK. Have fun, and you just might learn some interesting  aspects of your blogger friends. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Birthday Apple Crisp

This is the Apple Crisp that I made for my son's birthday, which we celebrated last Sunday.  You may remember that this son doesn't like cake or chocolate!  Can you imagine anyone not liking chocolate. According to about 4% of the population do not like chocolate, so my son isn't the only one. Therefore, I've been making this recipe for a very long time. I could make it in my sleep. almost.  You can use apples, or any other seasonal fruit, peaches, plums, or pears.  I've mostly made this with apples however.

Because my baking and cooking capabilities have been limited, I had my sous chef peel the apples.  I like Jonagold, because they are tart, sweet and juicy, but you could any apple of your preference. I have used Granny Smith apples also.  To make this crisp a little healthier, I use old fashioned rolled oats to balance out the six Tbsp. of butter, and cinnamon, lots of cinnamon. And who says that you can't teach an old dog,  new tricks? As I read Foy Updates Fall Apple Crisp recipe, I picked up  her tip to turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last five minutes of baking to ensure that the topping is crisp.  Even though I make this for my son's birthday, which happens to be in October, Apple Crisp has always been a rite of Fall.

Apple Crisp- enough for a shallow 10" pie plate or 9X9 square pan- 375 degree oven

I do not have a food processor, so I use a pastry blender to make the topping.  If you don't have a pastry blender, you can cut in the butter with two knives.

3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter
6 Jonagold apples
More cinnamon to taste.

1. Combine first 4 ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly, like small peas, and refrigerate until the apples are peeled, sliced and cored. .
2.Peel, slice and core apples. I use an apple slicer, which makes this step much easier. Sprinkle  more cinnamon over the apples, if desired.

3. Spray 10" pie plate, and pile apples into pan. Take topping out of fridge, and spread the topping over the apples.  Bake in 375 degree oven 35-40 min., until apples are tender and topping is golden. Then, turn oven up to 400 degrees for five min. to "crisp" topping. Cool on rack. Serve Warm-Enjoy Fall!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Baking in Sessions, Chocolate, Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Because my baking and cooking sessions have been limited, and sporadic, these cupcakes were made over a period of two weeks.  I'll explain.  I had adapted and  made the Devils Food  cupcake recipe from Chockylit's Cup Cake blog, several weeks ago for my friend"s birthday party. I added 3/4 c. mini-chocolate chip morsels to the batter I only wanted 12 cupcakes, so I froze the rest of the batter., which I had never done before. Then I read how freezing the batter is not a good idea.have any of you ever frozen cake batter. Well, if the cupcakes didn't turn out, I would just make new batter.

I cautiously defrosted the batter in the fridge three days before I needed to take these to a birthday celebration for my son and his girlfriend. Once the batter was defrosted, I took the batter out of the fridge and beat the batter for about 2 min. on high to "renew" the batter.  I had read that the cupcakes fall in the in the  middle if the batter had been frozen.  I carefully filled the cupcake liners with the beaten batter, and put them in the oven.  About 5 min. in the oven, I turned on the oven light to check.  I wanted to see if they were rising, and they were.  Five more minutes went by and I had to check again, and they were even higher! When I took them out of the oven, most had nice round tops. At least for this batter, freezing it wasn't detrimental to the results.  Maybe the secret step was beating the batter, before filling the cupcake liners and baking them. These beauties were going on the rack to cool and be filled the next day.

For the filling  I was going to make a regular peanut butter filling, but decided just to fill them with the natural peanut butter that we eat, Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter.  The only ingredients are peanuts and salt .I filled them with the cone method and put them back in the fridge to be frosted later in the day.

So later in the day, I frosted the cupcakes with Chocolate  Butter Cream frosting from Chockylit, and garnished the cup cakes with halves of  peanut butter cups.  In a three day span I finally finished the cupcakes, which were delicious.  Sometimes you just have to to do, what you can do and roll with it.  Soon, I will be posting the Apple Crisp that I made for my son.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Last Post for Awhile-Oatmeal Apple Raisin Muffins

I am sad to say that this will be my last post for a while. I am experiencing physical problems, that have limited my baking and cooking abilities, so I can't enter as many posts as I would like. Until I find out what the exact problems are, I am unable to focus on my blog. Plus, I have several Dr. appointments and tests ahead of me.

I have met many wonderful friends in my short period of blogging. Before I started blogging, I had no idea there was a whole new world on the the other side of my screen. The Foodbuzz  community is wonderful. Don't be surprised if I pop in and visit one of your blogs occasionally. If any of you out there are experiencing health issues and blog occasionally, I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment, and I will get in touch with you.

Now for the recipe for these moist muffins loaded with old-fashioned oatmeal, grated apples, and raisins with a Vanilla glaze and sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. These muffins make a wonderful breakfast, after school snack, or dessert. I adapted the recipe from

Oatmeal Apple Raisin Muffins

1 c. oatmeal
1 c. milk
1 c. raisins-(You could also use dried cranberries.)
1 peeled, chopped apple, I grated the apple about 1/1/2 C
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
Vanilla Glaze
1/3-1/2 cup powdered  sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the oatmeal and milk together in a large bowl. Add the raisin, grated apple, beaten egg and vegetable oil. Stir.In another smaller bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir the combined dry ingredients into the oatmeal mixture only until moistened.
Line 12 muffin cups with liners and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pan. Serve warm or cooled.

When cool mix glaze ingredients in small bowl until a thin consistency to pour from a spoon. Drizzle glaze over cooled muffins, and sprinkle with a small amount of mixed cinnamon and sugar.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

LiveSTRONG With A Taste of Yellow 2010 Heart Series

I am participating in Winos and Foodies, LiveSTRONG With A Taste of Yellow 2010- Heart Series. to raise awareness of  cancer, all types of cancer, and support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I am dedicating this post to my Mom, Helen, who passed away 3 years ago with Multiple Myeloma, as one of the contributing factors.  She loved yellow and lemons, so I made heart shaped Lemon Bars to honor her. First, I made the lemon bars, and then made the hearts with heart-shaped cookie cutters. I got my love of baking from my Mom, who made wonderful cookies and pies. One of my favorite childhood memories of her is when she was making pie crust.  She would roll up the leftover scraps of dough with butter, sugar, and cinnamon., and  bake mini cinnamon rolls. I got the lemon bar recipe from my friend, Carolyn, many years ago.

My life has been touched my cancer in many ways, too many ways.  I am a 14 yr Melanoma survivor, my mother had Multiple Myeloma, my brother has a rare form of Leukemia, my cousin had lung cancer, and I have lost two dear friends to cancer, all in a 5 year period.  When all of these people in my life were diagnosed with various types of cancer, I was compelled to do something. to raise money for Cancer. I became a Team Captain for the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. My Team is Life's a Beach. So, hopefully today  wear yellow or eat yellow food, and remember LiveSTRONG.  I also want to thank Barbara from Winos and Foodies for hosting such a wonderful event.

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