Off Topic…Christmas Tree!

November 30, 2007 at 2:03 am | Posted in Fun | 3 Comments


Yes, this is a cooking/food/wine blog, but how can I resist putting some pictures of my favorite Christmas ornaments on here?? I don’t think that I can. I am such a Christmas freak. I love putting up the tree, the stockings, listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts, etc. Yes, I am a Christmas cheeseball. : ) I love it even more now because I have an amazing family to share it with. Growing up it was always a big deal in our house to decorate the tree and I am carrying on that tradition with my kids and my husband. He says our tree is “a happy tree” and indeed I think it is. It has random ornaments on it – from our vacations, ones that the kids have made, ones from when I was little, etc. I can’t wait until we build a bigger house in a few years – multiple trees will be residing in my home. : )

This is one of my favorite ornaments. My dad painted this when he was a little boy so it means so much to me. My grandmother gave it to me last year – 4 years after his passing. I will cherish this one forever. : )

When I was about 5-6 years old my grandmother started taking me to the Nutcracker ballet which was done by our city’s Philharmonic and the dance theatre. I was always so wide eyed and just amazed by the “real ballerinas” and the music. I still go every to this day. She bought me this in for me in 1986. You stick a light in it and the ballerina is under a “spotlight”. Love it!

Sheridan made this ornament in school in kindergarten. Everyone needs a painted macaroni wreath that they made in kindergarten. : ) Homemade ornaments are the best ones in my mind!

Okay…so this is a start. I have way too many favorites to post in one posting. Sorry if this bores you but I LOOVE Christmas and I love my Christmas memories that I have. : )

More to come… : )

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Banana Cake – Happy Birthday Tommy!

November 29, 2007 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fun | 4 Comments

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and of course I wanted to bake his cake myself rather than buy one. His favorite cake is banana cake and I definitely wanted to attempt to make one. I was a little nervous considering that my banana bread didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. However, I asked some of my friends for their banana cake recipes and my friend Jamie gave me her grandmother’s recipe – it did NOT disappoint!!!! THANK YOU JAMIE!!!!!!!!

Ingredients

1.5 c sugar
1 c sour cream
0.5 c butter softened
2 eggs
3 med-lrg bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Directions

1. preheat oven to 375.
2. mix sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs in large bowl.
3. beat in banana and vanilla.
4. gradually add in salt, baking soda, and flour.
5. spray a 9X13 pan with pam, fill and bake for 35 min. or until toothpick comes out clean.

Brown butter Frosting
0.5 c butter
2 c sugar
2 tbsp milk

1. Heat butter over med. heat in a frying pan until delicate brown.
2. remove from heat.
3. mix in powdered sugar and milk.
4. pour over cake.

Pig Rating: It was the Pig’s birthday and the Pig was impressed! He kept going on about how “really good” this cake was and he ate two or three pieces I think. : )

Mrs. Pig Rating: YUMMMMMM! I love banana anything and this cake was awesome! I think next time I will cook the butter a little more for the frosting…I got impatient but it still turned out amazing!

Friends of the Pigs: They LOVED this cake also. I love impressing friends : ) Thanks again Jamie!

Recipe from Jamie’s grandmother, picture from my kitchen (don’t mind that it’s half eaten already at this point…LOL)

Time for Christmas Baking!

November 28, 2007 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Fun | 1 Comment

I love to bake for Christmas. My mom and I have an annual baking day/night where we just find all kinds of recipes that we like and we bake all day and night. It is SOOO much fun! We love giving all of our baked goodies as gifts for co-workers, family members, and some for ourselves of course! : )

I have started my list of things that I really want to make this year – I am sure that the list will grow but this will be a place for me to at least keep track as I add to it/

Chocolate Truffles
Chess Squares
Chocolate Oreo truffles
Chocolate chip coffeecake (for Christmas morning breakfast at mom’s house)
Chocolate crackletop cookies
Gingerbread men
Puppy Chow
Peanut Brittle
Spiced Nuts

More later! : )

The Chicken Enchilada Incident of 2007

November 27, 2007 at 1:18 am | Posted in Chicken, Mexican food | 5 Comments

Tonight I was so excited to get home and make chicken enchiladas. I had a recipe for enchiladas that I made awhile back with ground turkey and I decided this time I would try chicken. They were so good the last time I made them and we love Mexican food.

I came home at lunch today so that I could go ahead and boil and shred the chicken so it wouldn’t take me so long to make dinner tonight. Good job for me for putting in so much effort huh? : ) Tonight when I got home from work I started making the enchiladas. I was so craving them all day at work and I couldn’t wait for them to be finished!

I mixed the shredded chicken in with the taco seasoning and water just as the recipe said, then I looked and it said to add 2 cups of brown rice. So, me, doing ten things at once, without even thinking about what I was doing measured out two cups of brown rice and dumped it in with the chicken and stirred vigourously.

Only when I was about to put the mixture into the tortillas did I stop and think, “Oh my gosh. I am the biggest dumba** ever. I just put 2 cups of uncooked rice in to bake with these enchiladas.” I mean, what was I thinking? That the rice would just automatically fluff up and cook while baking? As if rice does that?! I wanted to kick myself. But, I stuck it in the oven anyway thinking that maybe, just maybe with all of the sauce, etc. it would be okay (when in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn’t).

And of course, I warned Tommy before they were finished…”Um, I think I messed up our dinner.” At least I warned him. If there is one thing he hates it’s crunchy rice. And, as expected, I yanked the beautiful enchiladas out of the oven, took a big bite and….::CRUNCH:: Awesome.

Needless to say, I was really unhappy with myself. I hate messing up something when I’m cooking. HATE it. So…it was frozen pizza for us tonight. : ( I am already currently in the process of boiling more chicken and COOKING brown rice so I can make this again tomorrow night…

Sorry so long. Had to vent…anyway, here is the awesome recipe!

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken) 2 cups of cheddar cheese divided
1 pack of taco seasoning 10 tortillas
1 cup water salsa
2 cups of brown rice (COOKED RICE!!) 1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of refried beans

Directions
Fry ground beef or cook chicken and shred. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in (COOKED) rice and cook until liquid is gone. Spread 2 tbsp. Of beans, ΒΌ cup beef, 1 tbsp. Cheese down center of tortillas and then roll them up. Place them in a 9 x 13 pan seam side down. Combine salsa and soup. Pour down center of enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Serves 6-10 depending on how many your guests can eat ; )

Pig Rating: Crunchy. LOL Update:::Second time around- The pig said they were good and even ate seconds : )

Mrs. Pig Rating: Crunchy and I am mad at myself. Stay tuned for the real thing tomorrow night…:::Second time around – Definitely yummy and super filling. I will make these again for sure!

Recipes from http://www.allrecipes.com/ (I think), picture from my kitchen

Chunky Cheesecake Brownies – JFacie baked goods exchange November!

November 27, 2007 at 1:10 am | Posted in Brownies, chocolate, Dessert | 2 Comments


It’s that time again! Time for me to bake for the great JFacie baked goods exchange! I love it : ) I have really been wanting to make cheesecake brownies and I know that my girl loves chocolate and she likes cheesecake so I thought I would go for it. I have honestly never made homemade brownies before at all so this was even more special for me. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out but OMG….best brownies ever….

Hope she likes them! : )

Ingredients

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch square baking pan. (I used a 9 inch round pan)
Combine cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, and set a heatproof mixing bowl over the water. In the mixing bowl, combine butter with the remaining cup of chocolate chips; stir until just melted and blended together. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs, then sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into chocolate until evenly blended.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer. Top with remaining chocolate mixture (this doesn’t need to completely cover the cream cheese layer). Using a knife, swirl the top chocolate layer into the cream cheese to make a marble pattern.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is crinkled and edges pull away from sides of the pan. Cool thoroughly. Cut into 12 to 16 squares. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Pig Rating: He thought these were awesome – that’s because they are. LOL

Mrs. Pig Rating: These are SOOO good. Really rich and just yummers all the way around. Definitely a good recipe to make if you want something rich and sweet and chocolately. I will definitely be making this again.

Recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/, picture from my kitchen

"Best Marinara Sauce Yet"…or so they say

November 27, 2007 at 12:40 am | Posted in sauce | Leave a comment

I have really been wanting to try to make my own marinara sauce for something since we eat a lot of Italian food. I was craving chicken parm so I figured it was a good time to try out a new sauce. To this point I have pretty much been strictly a shopper who stares at all of the many varieties of jar sauce at the grocery store, but I was up for a challenge this time.

I found this recipe on www.allrecipes.com and it is titled “best marinara sauce yet”. I figured that sounded like a winner!

Ingredients

2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (I used crushed)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup white wine

Directions

In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
In a large skillet over medium heat saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pig Rating: He thought this was just okay. He ate it and didn’t dislike it, it just wasn’t a favorite.

Mrs. Pig Rating: I kind of agree with the pig on this one. It was okay…definitely not a bad sauce, it just seemed to be missing something to me. Maybe sugar? Not sure…can’t put my finger on it but I’ll keep trying : )

Recipe from www.allrecipes.com, picture from my kitchen

Chess Squares!

November 22, 2007 at 2:01 am | Posted in Dessert | 1 Comment


The one thing my husband has requested for me to take to Thanksgiving dinner are Chess Squares. A lot of my friends had never heard of this wonderful little dessert. I think maybe it’s a southern thing?? Anyway, I made them for the first time tonight. Super easy!

I’ll post our reviews and more after we eat them…
Are you ready for the recipe? It’s a toughie! πŸ˜‰
Bottom Layer
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter softened
1 egg (slightly beaten)

Top Layer
8 oz package cream cheese (softened a bit)
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 lb box of powdered sugar

Grease a 13” x 9” pan.
Spread bottom layer evenly and then pour top layer (spread evenly).
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pig Rating: All the pig could say was, “Oh yeah…oh yeah” when he ate it so…I guess that is good? : ) He loves them : )

Mrs. Pig Rating: So yummy! So sweet and moist and just GOOD. You HAVE to make these if you like really sweet things!

Recipe from a friend at Tommy’s work, picture from my kitchen

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken Pasta

November 16, 2007 at 1:20 am | Posted in Chicken, pasta | 2 Comments

I am always looking for new ideas for chicken and pasta dinners. We love them! I found this one on the blog of Orange Kitchen and it looked really different and really yummy.

(I am copying straight from her blog)

Ingredients

1 cup chicken broth
1.5 tbls lime juice (adjusting amount to your liking)
1 tbls corn starch (I used more like a tbsp and a half)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I used a lot more than this, I like things spicy!)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder (I used dried onion flakes instead)
1/4 tsp dried thyme (I ommitted this)
1/4 tsp dried parsley (I ommitted this)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1 tbls butter
Few drizzles of olive oil
8 oz pasta (I used whole campanelli)
1-2 cups broccoli florets
Optional – Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

1) Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 5 minutes of pasta cook time add the broccoli into the boiling water. Drain.
2) Mix together all the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through parsley) and set aside. (I actually cut the chicken into pieces and then put the spices right on the chicken like a dry rub)
3) Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add bite size chicken pieces into heated pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pan with the chicken and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened. (When the chicken was finished I added the cornstarch then when that was dissolved I added the lime juice and then the chicken broth)
4) Toss cooked broccoli and pasta with the chicken and sauce (I let it simmer for another 2 minutes in the sauce!). Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

Pig Rating: The pig took one bite of this and almost threw up. No, seriously. LOL I ended up making him a sandwich for dinner. I think the lime probably freaked him out.

Mrs. Pig Rating: I liked this one! Not my favorite, but definitely not bad. I ate leftovers the next day even. : )

Recipe from Orange Kitchen, picture from my kitchen

"Best Ever Banana Bread"…supposedly

November 13, 2007 at 2:23 am | Posted in bread | 1 Comment

I had 3 bananas this past weekend that were beyond ripe and I didn’t want to waste them. So, I thought I would look for a good banana bread recipe and see what happened. Tommy and I both like bananas, so why not? I looked on my “go to” www.allrecipes.com and found “Best Ever Banana Bread.” See ratings for how it turned out…

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray one 9×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray coating.
Blend together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and bananas.
Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir in pecans. Mix well.
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pig Rating: He said this was not moist enough and that there was something missing that usually gave banana bread a little “kick”

Mrs. Pig Rating: I agree with the Pig. I don’t know why this was tagged as “Best” because I didn’t think it was moist enough at all and not near flavorful (is that a word?! LOL) enough for me. I won’t make this one again. : ( Boo! I had looked so forward to a good banana bread!

Recipe from allrecipes.com, picture from my kitchen

Fried Potatoes

November 13, 2007 at 2:12 am | Posted in potatoes, side dishes | 2 Comments

So, Tommy and I were talking about fried potatoes yesterday so they were on my mind. I know, not the healthiest thing in the world, but oh so good for an every now and again thing. They are super easy to make – I didn’t really follow a recipe so I’ll just post what I did. You can certainly adjust the seasonings to your taste. : ) (What I post makes 2 servings)

Ingredients

2 large potatoes, peeled
salt, pepper, red pepper, onion powder – to taste
Shortening, butter, olive oil, etc. About 3 tbsp

Directions

Peel potatoes and slice into thin slices. Pour oil/shortening into skillet on medium heat. Salt, pepper, red pepper, and onion powder to taste – I really just shook a little of each on the potatoes. Fry them for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are soft. I taste tested. : ) I like mine a little crispy on the edges. Pour some ketchup over them and YUM!!! (You can also slice up some onions and add them if you prefer).

Pig Rating: He LOVED these. He wanted more but I told him no. We pigs can only have so much fried food you know. : )

Mrs. Pig Rating: OMG. So good. Just like my dad used to make them. I will definitely make these again!

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