Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Autumn Chopped Salad, from Espresso and Cream

I recently caved to peer pressure and joined Pinterest. That's where I found a photo of a beautiful-looking salad from Espresso and Cream and decided to make it for dinner. Except for the addition of pomegranate seeds, I followed Madison's recipe to a T, so I'm not going to give you the blow-by-blow here. You can find the recipe here, but in case you want to know what's in it first, here are the ingredients:

Romaine lettuce
dried cranberries
chopped pecans
crumbled bacon!
feta cheese
poppy seed dressing
balsamic vinaigrette dressing

I fed this to myself, Mr.4444, and three young college guys who thought it was fantastic.  It's as delicious as it is pretty!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dawn's Kick-Butt Cheesy Potatoes

My friend, Dawn, made these potatoes for our Halloween party, and they were a big hit. I don't have a photo (too busy that night), but I do want to share the recipe.

1 red onion, diced
1/2 stick butter
2 bags hash browns
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Vegetables (mushrooms, green pepper, broccoli) optional

Saute onions until soft. Put all in a crockpot and heat 4-6 hours on low (first hour on high) or bake in the oven.

If you bake it, add a topping.
Warning: This recipe is a beast on a crockpot (messy), but that's what dish soap and hot water are for, right?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cake Pops

It's Christmas Eve day, so I don't have a lot of time, 
but I wanted to share my Christmas Cake Pops that I made this morning. 
Are these beautiful, or what?!

Dark Chocolate Cake (per box directions)
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Dark Chocolate Candy Coating
Mini M&Ms
Peppermint Candies
Green Melts 

I made the dough last night. I whipped these up this morning, in about two hours.
Cake bites are a lot faster to make than cake pops (which require a stick).

I got a real kick out of decorating these.

So simple, and yet so pretty.

If you're lucky, you'll receive this little collection as a present tonight.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Somebody's Gonna Get Gobbled Up!

It's Kendall's turn to bring a treat to Spanish class at her high school.  
She found inspiration from Bakerella, but WOW--These turned out great!  

Can you guess what kind of cake pops Kendall decided to make?

Tools of the trade...

Assembly line focus....

How cute are these?!

Chocolate-covered raisins, butterscotch-flavored beaks, 

Wattles with "homemade" fondant (cherry-flavored Tootsie Rolls)! 
Yes, I know--I'm a genius.

Pretzel legs inserted carefully...
(She painted those nails herself. Clearly, we 4444s are not afraid of tedious tasks!)

Double-stuffed Oreos with chocolate candy corn await...

I know, right? Seriously, seriously cute!

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Party Pops

Our annual Halloween party is this weekend. On Friday, I'll make Barbequed Beef for a Crowd
Theresa's Beans, and Beer Dip. Tonight, I made these....


The green and orange pops were made with carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, and vanilla candy coating. They're absolutely delicious.
(They're in a fancy display box because they will be a prize for our costume contest.

I also made these basic cake pops, and I have a few platesful for serving at the party.

Yes, that's a cribbage board. It's kind of a long story.

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Allan's Guacamole

"No offense, Barb, but that is, by far, the best guacamole I have ever eaten."

Need any more convincing to try this?

If so, you're too stubborn. (See a therapist.) 

Personally, until I found Lawrey's Guacamole Mix, I never liked guacamole. 
I fell in love, though, and so did everyone who tried my guac. 
Then the bastards stopped making it!
 I couldn't find it anywhere.
Thank goodness,
because if they hadn't stopped making my favorite guacamole mix,
I would never had made my brother-in-law, Allan's, real guacamole, 
the recipe for which has been patiently waiting for me in our family cookbook 
for two years.


2 ripe avocados (I used 2.5)
1/4 cup peeled, finely-chopped Italian plum tomato
(oops. Just realized I forgot to peel it. Whatever.)
4 tsp seeded and minced jalapeno (I didn't measure--just used one whole jalapeno)
1/4 chopped onion (red, yum)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (yes, a whole lemon is too much, IMO)
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (see above)
1 tsp Worcestershire (pronounced "woostasheer")
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp salt (We like sea salt.)
6 turns freshly-ground black pepper

See that? All natural ingredients. 
(Discounting the fact that I have no clue what * Worcestershire sauce is.)

First, do all of the mincing, dicing, etc.

and throw it all together

Don't forget the cilantro--Wow--That was such a great addition :)

Cut the avocados in half, take the pits out. 
Scoop the flesh out with a nice-sized table spoon and mash it with a potato masher until it's still chunky.
Mix everything together. 
Some would say to chill it for a bit, to give the flavors a chance to "meld." 
We skipped that step and inhaled it.
It was fantastic.

The only change I will make next time is to probably cut the Worcestershire sauce amount in half.
Maybe. It really was delicious. Very flavorful.

Good-bye, Lawrey's.

I am so over you.

From Wikipedia:
The ingredients of a traditional bottle of Worcestershire sauce sold in the UK as "The Original & Genuine Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce" are malt vinegar (from barley), spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchoviestamarind extract, onions, garlic, spice, and flavouring.[8] The "spice, and flavouring" is believed to include clovessoy sauce, lemons, pickles and peppers.[8] 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Devil's Sex Cake Bites!

Tonight I started making one of Kyle's favorites--Devil's Sex Cake when I had a fantastic idea! 
OMG!! I could make Devil's Sex Cake Pops or Cake Bites! What fun! Here's how it worked--

Make Basic Cake Pops using devil's food cake and milk chocolate frosting. 
You'll also need this (4-6 bars if you're making a whole cake, or just two if you're making cake pops out of half of the cake, which is what I did)

and this...

I think Mrs. Richardson's might not be available in everyone's area, 
so if you find some, buy more than one (for next time)!

You'll need some CoolWhip if you want to go that route (you'll see what I mean later).

After chilling the dough and making the balls, poke the end of a wooden spoon into each cake pop, 
making space for the best part (coming up in a minute).  I want to point out that after I made the holes,

I realized this would stick less and might work better:

(It did.) Recognize it? It's a nutcracker! (Necessity is the mother of invention, you know.)

Okay, back to the yum!  Warm up the Mrs.Richardson's and put it in a pastry bottle (or whatever it's called--I got it at a cake supply store a while back). BE CAREFUL!  I heated mine in the bottle (not the most efficient method, but it is what it is), and when I took it out of the microwave, it SQUIRTED sauce all over the cupboard and burned my hand a little (after only 15 seconds!)

Anyway, squirt a little deliciousness into each cake bite....

And then patch each one with a little more dough.
You can then just gently roll them again to regain their round shapes. Chill again.

Crush the Heath bars and set aside.

 When the cake balls/bites are chilled again, dip them in melted candy coating
and sprinkle with the Heath candy before they cool/dry. 
I did some like that, and I then tried just stirring the Heath bits into the melted coating
and dipping the cake balls into that. It worked "okay," but not great.

And I also did some like this!

They're beautiful like this, but they have to be eaten right away, and believe me, they were--
I wish I had a video of Kyle's face when he at the first one--That does a mom's heart good :)

So, I made them three different ways, and to tell you the truth, all were delicious!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Cake Pops

See these little babies?

You may think them cute, but actually, they are quite ugly (the process, anyway). 
While in California, I bought  this cake pop at a Farmers Market...

...and once home, quickly set out to replicate it, because it--was--delicious!  
I'm happy to report that mine are wonderfully delicious, as well, but they did not come without folly. Fortunately for you, you'll be able to learn from my mistakes.

1 yellow cake and the ingredients mentioned on the box (eggs, oil, water)
3/4 container butter cream frosting
peanut-butter-flavored candy coating
creamy peanut butter (or crunchy, if you'd like a lumpy effect)
sucker sticks

(And now my mouth is watering again!)

Bake the cake and make the cake balls as instructed here.  

You with me? Good.  

Next, scrape the frosting off of the Oreos, like so....

(And please don't tell me they sell Oreos without the frosting, because I'm certain they're just not the same; you gotta have that little bit of sweet left on 'em to make 'em just yummy.) 
Get rid of your pent-up aggression by smashing the Oreos inside a Ziplock bag any way you choose, 
and set the crumbs aside.

Next, melt the candy coating. 
As you can see here, the instructions that came with mine said to melt them and add peanut butter.....

so I did,

....but as you will see in a moment, this created a pretty big pain in the butt--A delicious, ugly mess, 
and I'm hoping to figure out a way to correct it, but I can't argue with the finger-lickin' results--
These babies are delicious.

I made cake pops, so I used sticks. It's a matter of preference, of course. 
Dip a stick in candy coating, place it into the ball of cake...

and dip it into the melted coating.

Looks simple enough, right? 
However, you might also notice that the addition of creamy peanut butter
caused the candy coating to be very runny. 
Quickly, I tried the expected method of letting it drip a bit and then "simply" rolling it in the Oreo crumbs, which resulted in this:

Drat! So I tried this-- rolling them around a little...

Ugly, see? And this...

They still looked like wrecks. 
The coating, though it set up well enough eventually, was just really drippy.

Finally, I decided to do this:

I just sprinkled a bed of Oreos down, dipped them, set them on top of the Oreo dust, 
and quickly sprinkled more on their tops. 
By the time I figured it out, I had this motley crew of practice peanut butter cake-pops.

Every single one of them was delicious. 
Well, not that I ate every single one of them,
but I do admit to eating one of each style
(strictly for quality-control purposes, of course).

The next time I make these (and believe me, there will be a next time), I will probably....
*use a little less peanut butter, maybe?
*buy a different brand of candy melts, maybe?

But that's all that I'd change--
I've made yellow cake with butter cream before and found it to be just "okay."
However, with the addition of peanut butter and Oreos?

I like to put my cake pops in the freezer. Have you ever tried that? 
You might not want to do that, though,
because who needs cake-pops that are now twice as good,
 and therefore impossible to avoid eating? 

You might gain 10 pounds from eating them,

and then,

it could get really ugly.

Hey, if you get inspired and decide to go to Creative Cake Supplies (in Green Bay, in the little plaza across from McDonald's on Shawano Ave), tell them Mrs4444 sent you, will you?  I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Grilled Peach and Bratwurst Kebabs


If you're from Wisconsin, you've certainly heard of Johnsonville brats.  In fact, you probably cut your first molar on a Johnsonville brat. They're all I ever buy, so when I happened upon this recipe on Facebook (Bobby Deen  recipe video) I thought, "Awesome--A new twist on the traditional brat!" and decided to try it. [This is NOT a compensated review--I'm just doing it for fun, because we liked it a lot! Oh, and for the record, brat rhymes with "cot," not "cat."]


1/2 cup peach nectar*
2 tbls. rice wine vinegar
2 tbls. soy sauce
1 tbls. olive or vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Other Important Stuff:
5 Johnsonville Original bratwursts
2 green peppers
1 large red onion
3 fresh peaches (not too soft)

First, put the skewers into a pan of water to soak (unless you're a fan of grill fires).

Now, Bobby Deen says to whisk the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, but we 4444s just like to mix our marinades in gallon-size Ziplock bags, so that's what I think you should do. Don't forget to add the garlic.

Prepare the vegetables, brats, and peaches. I just got my camera back after having it held hostage for 30 days, so I'm going to show you what this step looks like.  The brats are cut into fifths.

Green peppers are to be chunked. (See that awesome knife?  I highly recommend you get one for the chef in your house. The Wusthof brand is expensive, but my hero (The Pioneer Woman) recommends them, so I bought one for Mr.4444 for Christmas a few years ago, and it was his favorite gift that year.)

Cut the red onion in big chunks, too.

Place them all in the bag with the marinade, and mix it up to distribute it evenly.

(This is why I like using the Ziplock bag--you can just keep flipping the bag over to move the juice around.)

After about ten minutes, I dumped the marinated goodies into a bowl, because I didn't want to have to dig my hand down in the bag to pull out pieces to put the kebabs together.

Prepare your grill. This is where I get lucky--Mr.4444 is the grillmeister in this house. (I know it's easy;  If you're a grillin' kind of gal, Bravo--I'm impressed, but I like to play the feminine, wimpy role in this regard.)

Grill over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning and basting frequently with leftover marinade.

When it comes to grilling kebabs, Mr.4444 recommends using two skewers for each one--It keeps the food from spinning around the sticks and allows for more even cooking that way. (I'll keep that in mind for next time.)

In case there is any doubt, these kebabs were delicious. You Southerners out there might have grilled peaches all the time, but we were grilled-peach virgins before tonight. Wow! They're really, really good!

I dedicate this post to Mr.4444, who burned his fingers repeatedly during the grilling of these fine brats, due to having to spin the skewers and flip individual brat pieces that didn't cooperate. What a guy--I love that man.

*I used apricot nectar, because it's the closest thing I could find, and although I only needed a half-cup, it came in a little six-pack. I figure I'll use the rest of it in other marinades.

P.S. Mr.4444 ate his brat bites with a little ketchup on the side. I ate mine without. We were both very happy.

To see the recipe without all the commentary, click here (but make sure the ingredients are listed correctly--I notified Johnsonville of the mistake, but I'm not sure when they'll get a chance to fix it). It should say 1/2 cup (not 1/4 cup) peach nectar, and the oil is missing from the ingredients list. (I watched the video to get the ingredients straight.)