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Friday, July 30, 2010

Locks of Love

My daughter does something pretty amazing. When her hair gets to the middle of her back, she cuts it off and donates it to Locks of Love. I think she was 6 when we were at the salon getting her brother's hair cut. She saw a girl cutting her long hair and stood there amazed by it. She asked me why and I told her that the girl was donating her hair so they could make a wig for kids who can't grow hair of their own. She said, "I WANT to do that". I looked at my little girl and could not believe those words were coming out of her mouth. She had hair to her butt and liked to wear it all kinds of different ways. Plus, I had spent countless hours brushing that beautiful hair and I couldn't imagine her without it. I told her we'd do it the next time we came in, thinking that she would forget.

The next month when we went again she was all smiles. I had forgotten my promise. When we got inside the salon she told the lady that she was donating her hair. What?!? The stylist asked if she was sure and she declared that she was. The stylist could see my apprehension and folded Claire's hair up to show her how short it would be and she smiled and I watched her climb into the chair. I gave my nod of approval and stood with tears running down my face as the stylist put Claire's hair into a ponytail and cut it off. Ten inches were tossed onto the counter. My baby girl suddenly looked so much older to me. The smile on Claire's face was priceless. She was so proud of herself and her new look. Two of her cousins, Serena and Madison, and her friend Kayla, have followed her lead and donated their hair as well.

It didn't stop there, Claire wanted to know more information so I looked up Locks of Love and found out that it takes 6-10, 10 inch ponytails to make one wig. Claire just made her fourth donation today and I couldn't be more proud of her. Bonus..I don't shed tears anymore, I just take a photo and smile back at her.

Props go out to Great Clips for providing free haircuts in Minneapolis to those that wish to donate (don't forget to tip your stylist).

If you'd like more information, check out

Bacardi Limon Slush

It's been a hot week and I was in the mood for something slushy and having alcohol was a bonus. I intended to make this slush with Vodka but realized that I didn't have enough so I made it with Bacardi Limon. It was very tasty but I think I'd use Cranberry juice instead of Lemonade next time if I'm using the rum. You can mix and match your juices or alcohol to find what works for you but here is the basic recipe.

6 C Water
1 C Sugar

Give it a stir and heat until boiling

Add 4 Lipton Tea bags and let them soak for 10 minutes.


1 large Can Frozen Orange Juice
1 large Can Frozen Lemonade (if using Limon, try Cranberry juice)
3 C Bacardi Limon or Vodka

Freeze overnight. Put 3 ice cream scoops in glass and top with splash of 7 up. I brought this to a friends house and forgot my camera but this is pretty much what it looked like. Makes about 10 drinks.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sour Cream Pancakes

I broke my waffle maker a couple of months ago and have yet to find a replacement I like so, I've been on a quest to find something that both my kids and myself like to have for breakfast.

I've never been a pancake girl. I've never liked the texture. Pioneer Woman was talking about a recipe she has in her cookbook for Sour Cream Pancakes. I have stopped buying cookbooks and actually just got rid of a bunch so I was debating what to do. Guess what?? Someone else who has a blog made them and provided the recipe! She was not exaggerating how good they were. Very light and the texture is not like regular pancakes. My son had his best friend over and they ate the whole batch. Not wanting to make any assumptions since they are growing boys I asked if they liked them, they both said they were the best pancakes they've ever tasted. Next time I'll double the recipe so I get more than the one I had to steal in the kitchen;)

Here's what you need
1 C Sour Cream
2 Eggs
1 t Vanilla
7 T Flour
1 T Sugar
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

Mix it all up and you're ready to get started. Heat your griddle until a drop of water sizzles away. Melt a pat of butter and put 1/4 C per pancake. Cook until they start to bubble. Flip, cook for about a minute and serve with your favorite syrup or topping.

I didn't get a photo since the boys ate them so quickly but this is what they looked like. Thanks for the recipe and photo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Italian BowTie Pasta

I would call this goulash but I think most people use a can of Tomato Soup in their goulash or at least most do in Minnesota. I always freeze any leftover pasta sauce and when I get enough..we have dinner.

This one was made because I had enough leftover pasta sauce that I planned on feeding just the kids and myself. When I ended up with two extra dinner guests, Bow Tie Pasta was made because when "you" mix the sauce and pasta, you can stretch it out a bit. Top it with cheese, serve in a pretty pasta bowl and it looks like you really thought this baby out.

What you'll need
Box of BowTie Pasta~cooked in salted water
2-3 C of your Favorite Pasta Sauce
I also had about a cup of Pizza sauce that I threw in

Heat sauce through, toss with pasta. Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese and serve.
Here's your pasta, I left a tiny bit of water in the pan to loosen the sauce a bit more.

Heat your sauce through

Toss together

Top with cheese and serve

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chicken in a Packet

I really don't like making chicken breast on the grill. Truth be told, it scares me. I'm never sure if I've cooked it long enough and usually end up cooking it too long. I saw something about making it in a foil packet. Not remembering where I saw it or what the recipe was, I gave it a go with one chicken breast and was quite happy with how it turned out. The only thing I would change is that I would not use Spinach as my vegetable like I did this time, it didn't hold up. It was easy enough to pick off but it didn't look very appetizing. You'll need something a little more solid like thick sliced peppers for flavor or broccoli if you want vegetables mixed in.

At any rate, here we go.

What you'll need
Package of Boneless, Skinless Chicken breasts~pounded thin
Few pats of butter
Olive Oil
Favorite seasoning

Wash your chicken, put between two pieces of waxed paper or Saran Wrap and give it a few whacks with a meat mallot or a heavy pan.

Spray a square of aluminum foil. I had put some spinach down but it got pretty stringy in the cooking process and didn't look very good after the fact. I think it added a little flavor but you can skip this step..I only mention it because it's in the photo. Back to the recipe. Lay your chicken on the foil, sprinkle with favorite seasoning, top with tablespoon of your favorite salsa, drizzle with a teaspoon of Olive Oil and one thin pat of butter. Seal the aluminum foil, kind of tenting it has some room for the steam to help cook it. Make sure you are sealed well. Throw it on a medium heat grill for 20 minutes, flip about 1/2 way through. Dinner is done.
Give the chicken a whack or two to thin it out.

Layer your stuff.

Seal the packets.

Dinner is served

Friday, July 23, 2010

Berry Parfait

I could just call it Berry Shortcake because that's pretty much what it is but doesn't Berry Parfait sound so much more decadent?? Isn't eating a dessert out of a wine glass so much more fun than on a plate? I say YES to both, that's why it's called Berry Parfait.

Berries were on sale this week at the grocery store so I picked up all my favorites and made a fairly healthy summer dessert. Guess what, my kids HATE berries, it's almost getting laughable what they won't eat. But, it doesn't stop me and this is an easy dessert to work around for everyone if you do it individually. IF your kids will eat berries, you could also make this in your favorite pretty bowl to save some time.

What you'll need
Angel Food cake~I buy mine and this time it was an Angel loaf, tastes the same
Whipped Cream~NOT Cool Whip, unless you must, but please don't tell me;)

Chop your strawberries. Dump all your berries into a bowl. Mix them around with 1/4 C Sugar. Put them in the fridge for at least an hour so the berries will make their own juice.

Chop up your Angel Food cake into cubes or tear it up if you need to get out some frustrations.

Make this fabulous Whipped Cream

Large container of Heavy Whipping Cream
2 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's stiff. Add 1 1/2 Powdered Sugar and whip until it's nice and thick.

Get out your pretty wine glasses that don't get nearly enough use and put a scoop of berries in the bottom. Throw some Angel cubes in and kind of press down. Dollop of Whipped Cream, more berries, Angel Cubes, press down, more berries and another dollop of Whipped Cream. You can make these a little bit ahead but not too long unless you like mushy cake. I'm a texture person so I prefer to throw it together right before serving and it only takes a minute if you have everything prepped. Omit berries if you have children like mine. Makes 8 servings
Cut your cake about this thick and then cube it up. You can also just tear it up if you don't want to get a knife dirty.

Press each layer down a bit as you go.

Don't forget the whipped cream


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feeding Some Ducks

I am fortunate to live within walking distance to a lake, Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River. Did I mention that I live smack in the middle of the city where I also hear airplanes and sirens on a regular basis? I LOVE Minneapolis and all that is has to offer.

Yesterday I had a bunch of stale bread and decided instead of throwing it out, we'd go feed the ducks. I picked my nephew up at Tiny Tots and away we went. Lots of giggles and "oh look at the little baby ducks" could be heard. They had a blast and can't wait until we have more bread:)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Calico Beans

I'm not really a "bean" person but someone assigned beans to me at a pot luck and I gave it a go. This is one of those no rules recipes. You can really use any variation of beans and your favorite BBQ sauce. I only make these occasionally and I know that there are recipes that are more involved but as you know, that's not my style;) This is for about 15 people, double as necessary.

What you'll need
1 Large Can Baked Beans ~ I like Bush's
1 can Black Beans drained and RINSED
1 can Great Northern Beans drained
1 can Pinto Beans drained
3/4 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
1/4-1/2 C Ketchup
2 T minced dried Onion
1/2 lb hamburger or ground turkey cooked~optional. Seasoned to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
You can also throw in a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.

Throw it all in a crock pot and cook on low for about an hour. You can make these the night before (I actually think they taste better that way, gives the flavors time to meld together).

Add the hamburger, BBQ Sauce and Ketchup and heat through

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Monkey Bundt

I've made Monkey Muffins for you and promised when I made a "pretty" Monkey Bundt I'd share that too. So, here is the baked treat that makes my kids smile whenever they smell it baking. AND, it looks so pretty that you can take it anywhere and be sure to impress:)

4 cans Biscuits cut into quarters
3/4 C Sugar
3 T Cinnamon
1 stick of butter
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 t Vanilla
1/4 C Sweetened Condensed Milk

Preheat oven to 350

Mix your sugar and cinnamon together in a ziploc bag. Toss your biscuit quarters in the mix. Spray a bundt pan really well with cooking spray. Pull the quarters out and toss into the pan.

In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat, add your brown sugar and vanila until it's melted and blended. Pour on top of the biscuits. Put in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, every pan is different so you'll need to do some checking the first time. It will be puffed up and browned if it's ready to come out. Cool for 10 minutes and then put a plate on the top and flip it over. Drizzle condensed milk on top. Serve it hot, serve it warm or serve it later. It's all good.
Here's what the biscuits look like quartered and in a bundt pan
Put your butter and brown sugar in a pan and melt together until just bubbly
Stir in Vanilla
Pour the caramel sauce over the biscuits and bake
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on a plate. You can be done now if you want.
OR you can drizzle Condensed Milk on top for an over the top YUMMY!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wild Rice Salad

I really like Wild Rice, especially in a salad. This recipe is an easy one that I'm sure a lot of people have had but I thought I would share.

What you'll need
1 C of Wild Rice prepared according to directions. I cook mine in Chicken Broth.
1/2 C White or Brown Rice prepared according to directions. I cook mine in Chicken Broth
2 Cooked Chicken Breasts chopped up
1 can Sliced Water Chestnuts
3/4 can of Cashews ~ my can was 9.25 ozs
4 Green Onions sliced
1-1 1/2 C of Purple Grapes cut in half
White Pepper to taste

Toss everything together.

Mix up
1 C Mayo
1/3 C Sugar~the recipe calls for 1/2 C but I think it's too sweet
3 T Vinegar

Toss with Salad. Season with more pepper if necessary and serve.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Skor Cake

July is a BIG birthday month in our family. We have one on the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 21st, 25th and 26th. Each birthday, adult and kids gets their own cake and party. I never have to wonder what my nephew Dylan is going to pick for his cake because since he has been able to talk, he asks for Skor Cake.

Skor candy bars are the same as Heath candy bars and Heath are easier to find and you can even get them pre-chopped by the chocolate chips.

So, here's how you make it.

1 yellow cake mix with NO pudding in the mix~Duncan Hines is what I use
1 Large Instant Chocolate pudding
2 Cups Water
2 Eggs

Put all of this in a bowl and mix it up with your electric mixer until it is thick and well blended. Pour into prepared pan, in this case, I used a 13x9. Cook cake for about 25 minutes at 350 or until tester comes out clean. Cool cake.

1/4 C softened Butter
1 C Powdered Sugar
2 T Water
1 container Cool Whip defrosted

3/4 Bag chopped Heath bar or 4 Candy Bars chopped

Mix Butter, Powdered Sugar and water. Fold in Cool Whip and frost the cake. Sprinkle chopped Skor or Heath all over the cake. Chill for about an hour and serve. If you need to put the cake in the fridge for longer, that's ok..just add the candy before serving. The candy can get kind of funky if it's in the fridge too long.

Traditional Skor Cake

No Skor Cupcakes

I like how moist the Skor cake is so I tried it with Vanilla pudding instead of Chocolate and made them in cupcake tins. I topped with mixed fresh berries (1 container each of strawberries chopped, blueberries and raspberries mixed with 2-3 T Sugar. Let sit in the fridge for about an hour to make it's own juice)and Whipped Cream. Guess what, everyone LOVED it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Watermelon Tip

Wanna get a little extra life out of your cut up watermelon?? Put a few paper towels in the bottom of the bowl before you cube it up. The paper towels soak up the extra juice and your watermelon stays firm and juicy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mocha Frappachino

I've never liked coffee. I am 41 years old and I have never actually drank more than a sip or two. So, when my son developed this obsession with coffee, namely Frappachino, it was lost on me. He apparently got his love of coffee from his Dad;) Besides the coffee, the second thing that I don't like about Frappachino is the cost, $5 for a beverage? A beverage he is going to suck down in .5 seconds, ummm, not so much.

When I figured out how to make one, both of us were happy. Now for $5, he can have about 10 of them. I haven't taught him how to make them so I can monitor the quantity.

What you'll need
2/3 C Milk
3 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream ~ We like Breyers at our house, Natural Vanilla
2 T Instant General Foods Suisse Mocha Cafe

Put it all in a blender and give it a whirl. Top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup and serve.

I did make it with 1 1/2 C Milk, Ice and 2 T Mocha..Max didn't hate it but liked the ice cream version much better.

Three rounded scoops of ice cream
Here is the Suisse Mocha
The Magic Bullet I received as a Birthday present came in handy for this but you could use your blender.
That'll be $5 plus tip:)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Surprise Devil's Food Cake

Yes, it's another cake. I make a lot of cakes in the months between April and July. I get bored making the "same" cakes. I try to get a little creative when the cake is for an adult and I can try something different without disappointment. Like the time I made my niece her requested white cake but decided to dye the inside to match the outside..she did not believe me that the camo colored cake was still a "white" cake like she requested and she wouldn't eat any of her own birthday cake. I felt terrible and won't make that mistake with a kid again. But adults, adults are fair game if they don't make a "request".

My friend Elizabeth is one such adult. I tried to slyly find out her favorite cake but she didn't bite. So, I got to pick! I make cupcakes called Surprise Cupcakes. They are a "surprise" because in the middle is this yummy, creamy, chocolate chip center. I LOVE them, as does everyone that tries one. I wanted to see if I could accomplish the same thing with a cake. The simple answer is no. I didn't receive the same, "what is in there" response after they took a bite BUT the cake was still good. It had that little extra something, something.

I will provide the instructions on how to make the cupcakes if you want the WOW factor but if you're looking for a good cake..this works. I also have to tell you something about the cupcakes. The first time I made them, I made them from scratch. Yes, from scratch because that is how I found the recipe. I tasted them and thought, hmmmm, ok?? Devil's Food tastes the same to me. I brought my cake mix Surprise cupcakes to a party and someone who bakes everything from scratch ate one. She said, "Your cupcakes are so good". I said thank you. She continued to say, "I like that you bake from scratch, I've had these when they use a cake mix and they are so nasty". I just smiled. Sometimes you don't need to share your secrets:)'ll need
Devil's Food Cake Mix prepared according to directions
1 brick of Cream Cheese~softened
1 C Sugar
1 Beaten Egg
Pinch of salt
1/2 bag mini Chocolate Chips

Mix cake mix in bowl. Mix egg, cream cheese, sugar and salt in another bowl. When mixed, add chocolate chips.

Spray 2 round cake pans with cooking spray. Equally distribute cake mix. Drop big spoonfuls (I used a tablespoon from my silverware drawer) around the cakes. Bake cake according to box directions, you don't need extra time. Tester should come out clean (test a spot that doesn't have cream cheese).

Cool cake 5-10 minutes and invert on plate to finish cooling.

IF you want to make cupcakes, pour batter half full into cupcake liners. Drop a
spoonful of cream cheese mixture into center and bake according to cupcake
directions on box. Makes about 28 cupcakes. Frost with your favorite chocolate
canned frosting. YES, you know my secret..I use canned frosting on these babies;)

Now, for the middle filling/frosting. When I made this frosting the first time, I thought it was ok. I think the ingredients skewed my taste buds. But, my son LOVED it, as did a few others, so I made it again. I will admit, it has grown on me and it is a really nice alternative to whipped cream because it doesn't have to be refrigerated. You can also add a couple of T of Cocoa powder for a chocolate flavor or couple of T of Lemon Juice for a lemon cake.

Cooked frosting
5 T Flour
1 C Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 C Butter
1 C Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, looks like pudding when it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together with your mixer until light and fluffy~you can't cream too much, you want the sugar to basically dissolve into the butter. The longer you beat it, the better they mix. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Put cake number one down on a pretty plate, put a nice layer of this in the middle and top with cake number two.

Now, for the outside frosting. My FAVORITE cooked fudge frosting.

Fudge Frosting
1/2 C Butter
1/3 C Milk
4 T Cocoa
Bring to a boil. Add
2 t Vanilla
3 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
Whisk until smooth.

This is a little tricky to frost with because it's runny. Pour on the top of the cake slowly and kind of spread as it around, it will over flow down the sides, spread it around. It takes some patience but you can slowly add frosting to the sides to get it all frosted.

Now, you can leave it or you can make it pretty with some white butter cream. Either way works great:)

Beat your egg
Add the softened cream cheese, sugar and pinch of salt and mix well
Add your mini chocolate chips
Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture around the cake
Cool your cakes according to directions, test an area without cream cheese to make sure the cake is cooked. Cool 10 minutes in pan and invert onto plates
Put a nice layer of the creamy frosting in the middle and top with other cake
Frost with the cooked chocolate frosting
Decorate with regular buttercream frosting if you want it "pretty"
Side view ENJOY!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Suzy Q Cake

When I was pregnant with my son I could NOT get enough sugar. There was this bakery on the way home that made these fabulous cakes and I became addicted. I would stop after every doctor appointment and treat myself to a piece of $5 cake. After I passed the glucose test, I had two;) I figured out how to make a close tasting one, I think they called it Hot Fudge Cake but since I didn't know that and it looked like a Suzy Q, well that's what I named it.

It has become one of the favorite cakes around our house and my Mom requested it for her birthday dinner tonight and I was happy to make it.

What you'll need
Devil's Food cake prepared according to package except use milk instead of water and add about 3/4 C Sour Cream and cooked in a 13x9 cake pan

Jar of Hot Fudge~I like Mrs. Richardson's but any thick hot fudge will work

Whipped Cream

To make the whipped cream

Large container of Whipping Cream
2 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's firming up. Add 1 1/2-2 C Powdered Sugar and whip until stiff. Chill the whipped cream a bit if you can.

Cut cake in half, making two layers. Gently lift the top off.  Warm hot fudge in microwave and spread a thin layer on bottom layer.  Spoon the whipped cream in the middle. Put cake back together.  Spread hot fudge over the top of the cake. Chill cake for at least an hour before serving. YUMMY!!!

Cut the cake in half.

Spread the whipped cream

Top with hot fudge
Honestly, I only used a small container of Whipped Cream this time and it was a mistake. The whipped cream should be about double this amount. Still tasted good but I like more whipped cream.
Here's the Birthday girl with almost all the grandchildren. Happy Birthday Mom! I love you:)