Wednesday, December 22

Flourless Chocolate Decadence

This was one of the quickest, easiest, most delicious cakes I've ever made. And no gluten! I don't have a good picture of it, because we ate it too fast. Have the oven and boiling water ready to go. It's perfect for a holiday dinner party. Another plus too, this can be made the night before!

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have a kettle full of boiling water ready for your water bath. Grease an 8x2 inch round cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In the top of a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl set in a pan on simmering water, melt:

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, chopped into pieces

Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon. In the meanwhile: in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk, beat until soft peaks form:

5 egg yolks
scant 1/4 tsp cream of tarter

Add slowly, and beat until peaks are stiff, but not dry:

1/4 cup sugar

Set the egg whites aside until chocolate and butter mixture is melted. Once ready, remove chocolate and butter mixture from the heat and whisk in quickly:

5 egg yolks

Fold into the chocolate a quarter of the whipped egg whites. Once incorporated, fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and place the pan inside a shallow baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the boiling water from your kettle into the baking dish halfway up the sides of the cake pan. This will gently cook the cake and help keep the temperature around it even.

Bake for exactly 30 minutes. When done, it will still look sticky in the middle but have a thin shell around the outer edges. Let cool on a rack completely, then put in the refrigerator for an hour or so, or up to overnight if you're preparing this early. When ready to serve, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan. Flip out onto your cake plate, remove the parchment paper and dust with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8

Empty Pantry Challenge

In an effort to decrease my food budget, I've recently taken up a new mindset. Before just heading to the grocery when I feel like I have nothing at home, I have challenged myself to make everything I possibly can from what I already have at home. My dish for tonight turned out really well!


Taco ground beef, 1/2 pound approx. (from taco night last night)
Wide egg noodles, 1/2 bag (from Aldi's!)
Indian Korma Sauce, 1/3 jar (from Publix, international section)
Frozen Peas, 1/2 bag
Cabot Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, 1/2 cup (I just love this cheese, so always have some around)

So, what I made was:

Pasta Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Boil egg noodles according to the package directions
  3. Combine the beef, peas and Korma sauce in a medium size mixing bowl.
  4. Drain noodles and add to the other ingredients. 
  5. Pour into a glass baking dish. 
  6. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. 
  7. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes, until all ingredients are warm and delicious. 
  8. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6

Holiday Crafts

I am so excited about the Holidays!!! Even though my house is going to be somewhat turned upside down, I can't wait to pull out the ornaments and stockings, pour some eggnog for me and the kids (a dash of holiday cheer in mine perhaps) and deck the halls!

I just wanted to share pictures of these. While I didn't make them, they are handmade in Sweden. I've been collecting them for a few years now, and get sooo excited when I get to pull them out at Christmastime.
I've always purchased mine in town at a store called 2 Danes (located on White Bridge Road). They are a really cheerful Christmas display, and probably not too hard to make yourself! That's all.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 2

Gingerbread House Parade!

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina
Ok, I'm diverting just a bit from the schedule this week, because there's just so much going on during the holidays! I'm gonna try my best to stick to it, but I wanted to post some pictures from a recent trip first.

I went up to the mountains over the Thanksgiving holiday to relax for a bit with my boyfriend (ooooooh, wink-wink, giggle-giggle) after all the family dinners were finished. He's very handsome, but no pictures of that. What I wanted to show you, were some pictures of the AMAZING gingerbread houses we saw at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, North Carolina. This is an annual competiton that they hold there, and is well worth the visit if you're in the area.

Green Gables in Gingerbread, perhaps...
The Inn itself is full of history. Opening in the summer of 1913, it has seen it's fair share of famous names come through it's doors. From Thomas Edison to William Shatner, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Barack Obama, The Grove Park Inn has been home to over a century of hospitality and history. Now, we didn't stay here, but it is definitely a great spot. Four-star restaurants and a world-renowned spa are also a part of the Inn.

Enough about the'd think I was trying to get some commission or something. Back to the gingerbread houses!

Grand Prize Winner
Gingerbread Nesting Dolls
I was totally amazed at the level of craftsmanship on some of these. I'm not exactly sure what the requirements are, but I believe they were all completely built from gingerbread, candy, etc. No cardboard, etc.

Teen Division Ribbon Winner
Gingerbread Church 
There were probably at least a hundred on display. I have no idea how many more had been entered in the competition. There were three divisions, Child, Teen and Adult. I think I would definitely have had to enter mine in the child division...and it would have lost easily.

The Grand Prize Winner had created a kind of homage to Russian Nesting Dolls, but themed around Christmas and made of Gingerbread. I have to admit though, while they were amazing, I thought some of the others should have won...I dunno, I guess maybe I wanted the Grand Prize Winner to actually be a house.

Adult Division Globe Theatre
Gingerbread House
Teen Division Globe Theatre
Gingerbread House
My favorites were the two Globe Theatres, one in the Teen Division and one in the Adult Division. I loved that the teen entry had a performance of Midsummer's Night Dream happening onstage. I knew immediately when I looked inside and saw the ass's head on Bottom's body.

It was great fun to tour around the Inn and see all these wonderful creations. It was definitely a great way to start getting into the holiday spirit. If you're ever in Asheville between Thanksgiving and New Years, definitely stop by the Grove Park Inn and see all the winners.

So now, everyone go home and make your own Globe Theatre.......yeah right. :)

Wednesday, December 1

Holiday Cinnamon Rolls

All right, all right. I know that making homemade cinnamon rolls is something that's probably not at the top of everyone's list. But, I just can't help it! At the holidays, all I want to do is bake, bake, bake!! This recipe that I found is really delicious, too. And yes, there's tons of sugar, but this is a special occasion kinda thing, so enjoy!

Now, they do take a bit of extra time (the dough needs plenty of time to rise). Make sure to give yourself two to three hours, so you don't end up feeling rushed. It's a really great cold, grey, winter day thing to do. My kids loved helping me roll them out and get them ready to bake. I made ours in the evening, then stored them to be ready for breakfast the next morning....we may also have tried a fresh one just before bed too.

Grocery List:

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening, softened
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Recipe: (all the ingredients you need are listed above)

Cinnamon Roll Dough:

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening, softened
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough of the remaining flour just to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until elastic about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours. (It's ready if an indentation remains when touched.)

Punch dough down. Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

Cinnamon Rolls

4 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Roll the Cinnamon Roll Dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Spread with the softened butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the rectangle. Roll up tightly, beginning with long side of your rectangle. Stretch the dough to make the shape even. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. (I used a very sharp paring knife, but you can also use wire). Place into greased medium sized muffin cups. Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Spread rolls with the glaze (recipe below) while still warm.


Mix 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbps milk and 1 tsp vanilla until glaze is smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk. Pour over the warm Cinnamon Rolls. Then eat and enjoy!!!

Monday, November 22

I love your Microbeads Martha!

For those of you that love the Martha Stewart Crafts line at Michael's as much as I do, you have to check out the new Microbeads. The colors are great, and they can be used in just the same way as glitter. I'm thinking about buying some vintage plain colored glass ornaments from Salvation Army and embellishing them with these little tiny beads. I'll definitely let you know how the project turns out. Anyhooo...microbeads. Go buy some! Or click here!

Wednesday, November 17

Pasta Delicioso

This is one of my favorite quick, cozy dinners that my kids love as much as I do! (I know, a meal the WHOLE family loves, crazy). The best part about it is you only need three ingredients and most of them you probably already have in your kitchen! I usually use UDON noodles, because my kids love being able to suck in the long noodle (think Lady and the Tramp). However, any pasta noodle works well. Just make sure to find one that takes about 10-12 minutes to cook. That way everything is ready to put together at the same time. Ok! Enjoy!

Pasta Delicioso!

Grocery List:

1/2 pkg Bacon
16 oz pasta noodles of your choice
Fresh Basil
Parmesan (optional)

  1. Preheat Oven to 450F
  2. Bring the water for the pasta to a boil.
  3. (while waiting for water to boil) Chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces and spread in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. 
  4. Put the noodles into the water for 10-12 minutes
  5. At the same time...put the bacon into the oven. Let it cook until the noodles are done. 
  6. Drain the noodles and place in a large serving bowl. Add the bacon (along with a portion of the grease from cooking) to the pasta. Mix well. 
  7. Top with chopped fresh basil and quickly mix together. 
  8. If desired top with freshly shredded parmesan. 
  9. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 15

Hark A Vagrant!!

I stumbled across this artist while looking at some comics online. Anyways, her name is Kate Beaton. Her website, Hark A Vagrant, has a lot of her comics archived as well as mugs and t-shirts for sale. A history major born in Nova Scotia, she has a great sense of humor and a really unique aesthetic to her drawings. I love some of her T-shirt designs too.

Anyways, check it out here, if you'd like!!!! Kate Beaton! If you're looking for the perfect present for that slightly snarky friend of yours, you may just find it here.

Wednesday, November 10

King Ranch Chicken

Ok. This is seriously one of the easiest, most delicious, coziest recipes for the fall weather I know of. So I thought I'd pass it on along. A version of it was featured in Southern Living this past month, but I'll give you the version my grandma passed down (along with a lot of other lovely Southern ladies, I'm sure).

Grocery List:

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 16oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel Tomatoes, for example)
  • corn tortillas
  • 1 2 cup package sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • salt
  • pepper
  • few drops of tabasco
 Ok. So here's how you make it!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 Glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan, poach the chicken breasts. I simply cover the chicken breasts with about 1/2 inch of water and bring the water to a boil. I let it gently boil until the chicken is done cooking, about ten minutes. Poaching allows the meat to remain really tender for pulling, as you will do later on in the recipe. For more detailed information on poaching chicken breasts, check out this website.

While the chicken is cooking...
  1. Dice the onion and the bell pepper, and place in a large bowl. 
  2. Add to the bowl the following of the ingredients
  • cream of chicken soup
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • tomatoes
  • tabasco
  • salt and pepper to taste
Then...mix all the ingredients together well.

When the chicken is done cooking, set it on a cutting board and pull it apart to shred it for the casserole. Add the pulled chicken to the bowl with the other ingredients.


  1. Line the bottom of the glass baking dish with a layer of corn tortillas. It is fine if they overlap. 
  2. On top of the tortillas, pour about one-third of the chicken mixture. Spread it evenly. 
  3. Sprinkle one-third of the cheese on top of the chicken. Now, repeat steps 1-3. 
  4. For the top layer, do a last layer of the chicken then sprinkle the cheese on the top. (This leaves a deliciously tasty cheesy layer on top for your first bite). 
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until it is bubbly through all the layers. Let cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!!!!

Monday, November 8

Mochi Mochi Land

Ok. For any of you out there interested in knitting, crafting, sewing, or just awesome things in general, you must check out Mochi Mochi Land. One of the latest amazing things to be featured on, you will not believe the creations of this artist.

"Mochimochi Land was launched in early 2007 as a place where knitted toys and people can live together in a spirit of tolerance.

The toys that inhabit Mochimochi Land are at once cute and strange, and they appeal to adults and children alike. They are all original designs by Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Brooklyn. Anna finds inspiration in Japanese kawaii designs and illustrators like Dr. Seuss. Her knitted toys have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, around the web, and in print. Her original knitted creations have appeared in galleries in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tokyo.
Downloadable Embroidery
The Mochimochi Shop specializes in downloadable knitting and cross-stitch patterns. Printed Mochimochi Land patterns are also available for wholesale prices. (Please contact info [at] mochimochiland [dot] com to inquire.)
Anna’s first book of knitting patterns, Knitting Mochimochi, was released in June 2010." - this information was found on the About Me page of the MochiMochi Land Website.

All the creatures remind me of things you might see in a Hiyao Miyazaki movie. And most of the items seen on their site are things that you can download the patterns for, whether it's embroidery or knitting. Others are available for purchase on Etsy.

Anyhoooo...If I were you, I'd check out these awesome creations. If nothing else, they are really fun to look at!

Saturday, November 6

Kombucha, y'all!!!

Ok. For anyone that is a fan of Kombucha Tea you must read the following. Some great friends of mine are now making their own and you can buy it too! It is NO KIDDING the best kombucha I have ever tasted. I will never buy one from anyone else again....unless they run out cuz they're so awesome...and then I would be forced to.

Anyways! It's called Cumberland Valley Kombucha. I am listing information below. Please contact them to try it for your own selves, cause it's hell-yeah awesome!!!!

Krysta K. and Melissa B.

You can also check out Krysta's blog Cumberland Pickles

Monday, October 25

...monday blues

Oh my goodness! I just spent the whole day entrenched in home budgets, bill organization, scary dark closet clean-out, and children's growth-spurt clothes turnover crazy-town. While I got a lot more done than I thought I would, how come it feels like I did nothing! I have a more organized craft closet, but a crazy messy kitchen. Is it ever all together at once?! Well, hopefully everyone else's week is going well. It's been beautifully blustery fall out, and I'm excited to spend some time in the weather this week!

Tuesday, October 19

Craft Daze

To any and all of you out there who are at all into crafting and cottage industry type endeavors, WHIPUP.NET is definitely a website you should know about. has a million and one amazing download-able designs. To give you an idea of what their site is all about, here's a portion of their mission statement:

"Whipup values time over money, values skills over things, and is for creating a space in a hectic life for making. Whip up is all for the handcraft movement." 

They have everything from mason jar labels to zombie lunchbox patterns. I can spend hours on here looking around and getting really inspired seeing the crafting that others are doing. 

I put some pictures up of the things they have that are halloween themed right now, to help get y'all in the spooky spirit. You should definitely check it out, although be warned, you may not be able to leave...

Monday, October 18

A visit to Fairyland

Book tip!!
I just finished a really great book that was given to me a few weeks ago. It was a great gift, and I love it! It's called Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate. This is a smart and fun "guidebook" to the modern world of the fantastic. Set mainly in present day New York City, the book is filled with tips and warnings about modern day fairies. I love the way it bounces back and forth between short stories about encounters with modern mythical creatures and quick one page helpful hints about existing amongst them. If you're at all interested in sci-fi, fantasy fiction, you should definitely check this out! 

Thursday, October 7

Ashtma, part deux!

So. In an attempt to prevent my little man (and me!) from having these scary seasonal asthma attacks, I am changing our diet. Not many people realize, that asthma is very manageable if you pay attention to what you are putting in your body. Of course, this is true for a lot of things. According to the incredibly useful guide Nutritional Healing that I have at home, I should try to make sure that his diet consists mainly of the following:

Brown Rice
Whole Grains...

We should be staying away from the following:


the list goes on, but those seem to be the most important ones. 

Also. There is a supplement available from Herb Pharm called Calm Breath. It contains the following herbs:
* Khella seed (Ammi visnaga) 30% * Skunk Cabbage rhizome & root (Symplocarpus foetidus) 20% * Grindelia leaf & flower (Grindelia spp.) 18% * Turmeric rhizome (Curcuma longa) 18% * Thyme leaf & flower (Thymus vulgaris) 14%

If you would like to Purchase Calm Breath, there are several websites available. It is recommended to take it two to three times daily with juice or tea. I am going to start my son on this today!!! I am very excited about it. 

So! Let the new regime begin. I will let you all know how these things help with his wheezing and schtuff. Hope all of you are well!

Saturday, October 2


This is very exciting...possibly...if you're at all a fan of Neil Gaiman, check this link out!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, September 29

pie time in tennessee

The weather's gettin' cooler, and I'm wantin' some pie!!!! Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Pot Pie, Butternut and Acorn Squash Pie...any sort of savory sumthin' sounds delicious to me. In an effort to spread the love of all things savory this time of year, I thought I'd share with you the easy steps to deliciousness. I think sometimes we all forget how easy it really is to make these kinds of things, as long as we know the key points to success. Once you've got those down, you can take any recipe and twist it around just a bit to make it your own!

Tonight's Pie: 

Shepherd's Pie.

Ok. First off!

Grocery List:
5-6 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
4-5 Carrots, diced
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups lentils (any variety works, I like to use French)
1 lb ground beef (chuck or round both work well, you can also use   ground lamb if you'd like)
1 apple, cubed (optional) 
  chili powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
(sidenote: this always seems to be a good oven temperature when making a savory pie, because the oven is hot enough to properly roast the vegetables, but not so hot that the crust will get burnt)

Peel Potatoes and cut into equal size cubes. Put in a 4 qt saucepan, covering with water by an inch, and bring water to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. 

so. While those is boilin'...

In a small saucepan, boil 2 cups water. Add the:

1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin

stir occasionally, until most of the water is gone. 

And now for...

The Filling:

Heat in a large skillet 2 tbsps butter. Just as the butter begins to sizzle and brown add:

diced onion 

Once the onion has softened and browned just a little on the edges add:

diced carrots
cubed apple
Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until there is a nice glaze on the carrots and the apples have begun to get slightly soft. 

Ground beef (or lamb)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala (or cumin)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp pepper
Cook until just browned. Then add to the saucepan the cooked lentils(make sure to drain any remaining water out of your lentils before adding the them to the filling.)    
Turn the heat on the stove to low, and simmer while you make your mashed potato topping. 

Mashed Potato Topping:

Drain your boiled potatoes and mash as you normally would. I use a stand mixer. I added into my potatoes:

1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cream (optional)
1/4 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Make sure you've added enough milk to get the potatoes to an easy consistency to spread. You don't want them so dry that they're flaky, but also not so wet that they're potato soup.  

Putting it all together:
If you're not using the skillet you cooked your filling in to bake your pie in, transfer the filling now. Then take the mashed potato topping and
spread it over top of the filling as if it is icing. You should have a good inch of potato over the filling of your pie. If you wanna get really fancy you can do the following:

1 egg (beaten)

Brush this over the top of the mashed potatoes to create a nice golden crust on the top. Then, over the top of that put a light layer of shredded cheese. I recommend a sharp white cheddar (such as Cabot).

Put it in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden, and it is heated throughout. 

Now enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, September 28


It's here!!! Finally!!! It's time to start hiking, biking and triking (for those of us on three wheels).

Here's a list of some great fall day trip ideas:
(click to be magically taken to the corresponding website)

...these are just a few places that I'd much rather be heading towards today.

Monday, September 27

Signs, Yo'uns.

Burnsville, NC
...there's just something I love about finding a perfect diner. That cup of coffee that tastes only as it ever can from a diner, the hot biscuits, the perfect burger...

While this diner wasn't at all perfect (in fact my stomach was aching before I even left the restaurant, leaving me incredibly cranky for the rest of the morning) I did love the sign. It's a pretty unforgettable small-town diner sign. 

Thursday, September 23

Je t'aime français.

Well, one of my favorite assignments of the year, so far, is tonight's french homework. We were told to draw a picture of a bedroom (une chambre) and then label all the items that are in the room with their french names. I had a lot of fun with this, since I do love to draw and all. Here's how it turned out (click on picture to enlarge):
picture was taken with my not quite full quality :)


Working on this project got me really excited about all things French again. My friend Brenda and I are about to begin a small french speaking coffee group to be able to get good practice in even though we are not surrounded by the language. Thinking about café au laits and crepes inevitably led me to start thinking about one of my favorite sandwiches in the world, the croque-monsieur, a french café classic. I thought I'd include a quick recipe for ya from one of my favorites, the always delectable Ina Garten. Enjoy!!

Croque Monsieur


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.