Wednesday, September 2, 2015

MIA, Pancackes & #27 Sautéed Shishito Peppers

I know, I know!! I am SO BEHIND on my recipe posts!! I've actually cooked the recipes and taken the pictures, but just haven't gotten around to writing the posts!! My new job as host at Original Pancake House has kinda derailed my bloggin' train. Haven't had a "real" paying job in about 16 years, so this has been a bit of an adjustment.  I'll get caught up eventually....

Anyway, here's a quick recipe I tried the other day. A package of shishito peppers came in my Farm Fresh to You delivery and I had no idea what to do with with! A quick search on Google and I came across this gem! So easy and SUPER tasty!! Tastes like a chili relleno without all the cheese and egg batter and sauce.....
Sautéed Shishito Peppers
(Recipe from Epicurious )
shishito peppers
olive oil
fresh squeezed lemon juice
sea salt
Here's what you do. Heat a little olive oil in a wide sauté pan until it is good and hot but not smoking. Add the peppers and cook them over medium, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister. They shouldn't char except in places. Don't rush. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook a panful of peppers. When they're done, toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slide the peppers into a bowl and serve them hot. You pick them up by the stem end and eat the whole thing, minus the stem, that is.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer of Selfies Challenge: FINAL Week & Giveaway

Are we really at 6-weeks already? Time flies when you're shootin' selfies! So, how'd it go? Was it easier than you thought?  Harder?  I will admit that even I was getting a bit weary of posting everyday... but I did it and I'm hoping to finish strong this week!

Here's your FINAL list of prompts! Use them or feel free to make up your own.

I'm also having a fun little giveaway as a way to say "thank you" for joining me in this experiment! These mugs are SUPER ADORBS and I knew that one of you just had to have them (I got a set for me too!!)!!

Here's how to enter to WIN (gotta do 'em all):

  1. Follow me on Instagram. CupcakeDD (comment on this post to let me know you did)
  2. You'll need to post at least 4 selfies this week (7/26-8/1) and come back and let me know that you have .
  3. Leave a comment letting me know what you've learned during Summer of Selfies. Did it change the way you see you? Did you find your "good side"? Did you discover a favorite technique or app?
Easy peasy, right? I'll pick a winner on August 3rd! Now, have a GREAT WEEK and keep clickin' those selfies!!!


Here's where it all started: Summer of Selfies Challenge

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer of Selfies Challenge: Week Five

Week Five is all about technique! Strike a pose! Try something different.
For most of us, one side is more attractive than the other. Tilt your head to the left and then the right as you view yourself on your phone’s screen to find out your “best side”. Also, try extending your neck forward to accentuate your jaw line and get rid of the double chin effect.  You can also shoot high or hold the camera slightly above you and look up… that technique can help with a multitude of things! Most importantly, try and try again. Just keep clicking and figuring out what you like best and what is most comfortable for you!

Here are this week’s prompts with a little more explanation:
The Two Fisted Selfie - Hold the camera with two hands, away from your body. It’s easier to take a selfie this way because you can steady your camera with one hand and push the shutter release button with the other.  Be careful not to cover up the lens.

Standing In The Light - Pose in an area with good lighting, like inside near a window or outside. Gorgeous lighting = a more flattering selfie. The best time to shoot for lighting is “the magic hour”—one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset.
The Full Monty (with clothes please!) – Do a full body shot! Strike a pose in front of a mirror or experiment by holding your camera at different angles (over your head, off to the side, etc..). Angle your body to the left or right, that's usually more flattering than shooting straight on.

Feet First – A selfie isn’t just about your face… try snapping a fun shot of your feet or another body part (keeping it clean!), like your hands, your shoulder, knees, etc.
Get Tight – Don’t like that “I’m holding my arms up to take a selfie” look? Crop in tight on your face. Zoom in on your phone just slightly and hold the camera far away from your face. You’re features look proportionate, you declutter the background and you can’t see those arms at all!

Accessorize – Try wearing a hat, throwing on some sunglasses, don a wig, or sport a mustache… the possibilities are endless.
Express Yourself – Let’s break away from the duckface and try a good old fashioned smile! Not feelin’ it? Pout, frown, smirk, laugh, be goofy!

 Just a little heads up…. We will be having a giveaway in Week Six to celebrate completing the challenge! There will be a few rules, but nothing you can’t handle! Stay tuned and keep up those selfies!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

26 - Cherry Apple Cobbler

I LOVE a good cobbler, but for some reason I forget how easy it is to make one. Seriously, it's so simple! I saved time in the kitchen by replacing fresh, cut fruit with canned pie filling. I used a can of cherry and a can of apple, but you could use any kind you want (oooh, blueberry would be yummy!).  Serve this baby warm with a big ol' scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and you'll be a big hit!

Cherry Apple Cobbler
(Recipe adapted from )

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 - 21oz. can cherry pie filling
1 - 21oz. can apple pie filling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put butter in a 9x13 baking dish and place in oven until butter melts.

Blend together flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk.

Pour batter into baking dish over the melted butter. Spoon pie filling on top of the batter, do not stir.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer of Selfies Challenge: Week Four

Well, it's Week Four of our Summer of Selfies Challenge . I may actually be the only one left standing, but I'm not one to back down from a challenge! This week's prompts are "all about a verb"... should be easy peasy to get these babies done 'cuz hopefully you're doing these things already!

I wanted to mention that if you just aren't loving your selfies, there are lots of apps out there that allow you to "fix" them or just make them even more fabulous. You can touch things up, crop them, add filters, etc.

Here are some of our favorites:

Facetune - This one is great for softening those little flaws that we all have!


Snapseed - I haven't used this one but it's Christine's go-to for fixing up pics!

CameraBag - My friend Taffi swears by this one! Lots of FABULOUS filters!

Pixlr-o-matic - Add style to your photos using effects, overlays, and borders. SO MANY awesome filters!
Do YOU have a favorite photo editing app that you like to use? Let us know!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

#25 - Summer Vegetable Frittata

I may be repeating myself, but I love breakfast! I love it anytime of day! I'll have breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch, breakfast for dinner, breakfast just because..... ya got me? Anyway, I made this Summer Vegetable Frittata for dinner the other night. It just so happened that I had gotten my monthly produce delivery from Farm Fresh to You and it had all of the veg I needed to whip this baby up!

Eggs and vegetables... that's pretty much all you need.  You can definitely throw in your own mix of vegetables, swap them out seasonally. I matched it up with fried potatoes and fruit (more stuff from my Farm Fresh to You box). It's definitely tasty served warm, but you would also make it the day before and serve it cold.

Oh, and if you're interested in getting local, farm fresh produce delivered to your front door, I've got a $10 off your first delivery coupon code for ya! Stop by Farm Fresh to You and USE CODE: JULI4353 !

Summer Vegetable Frittata
(Recipe adapted from my recipes )
Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chop
    ped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 9 large eggs
1. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick broiler-proof skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates.
2. Combine eggs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until frothy. Pour egg mixture into pan over vegetables, stirring gently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes or until almost set in the center.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Broil frittata 3 minutes or until set. Invert onto a serving platter; cut into 8 wedges.

 (Recipe #25 of 52)


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summer of Selfies Challenge: Week Three

Keep it up... WEEK THREE, the half-way point! You may have gotten a little behind with your selfies, but don't give up!! Why not challenge yourself to post at least THREE selfies this week!
Y'all are ROCKIN' the selfies so far!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#24 - Beef Barbacoa

This one is a keeper... fix it and forget it! I got it all ready to go, threw it in the crockpot, went to the beach, and came home to the delicious smell of Beef Barbacoa! All I had to do was shred the meat, heat up some tortillas and chop a few veg and dinner was served. A few days later I made quesadillas with the left overs and I STILL had meat left! It was good stuff!

Beef Barbacoa

(Recipe adapted from That Skinny Chick)


  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 12 oz.bottle of beer (can substitute chicken broth)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced
  • diced tomatoes, grated cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, tortillas, etc.

    1. To make the adobo sauce combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves in a blender or processor on high speed until smooth.
    2. Remove any excess fat from the roast and then cut into a few large chunks.
    3. Pour oil into a frying pan and sear all sides of roast on medium-high heat until browned.
    4. Place meat into Crockpot and pour adobo sauce over meat.
    5. Pour in the beer and add bay leaves and onions.
    6. Cook on high heat 6 hours or on low all day.
    7. Shred the meat with two forks and serve with tortillas and a variety of toppings when ready.
    Had to share some of our beach day too (aka. what to do while dinner is cookin' )...
    Beach Glam!
    My Guys


    Thursday, June 25, 2015

    Summer of Selfies - Week Two

    Soooo.... how does it feel, week one taking selfies? Awkward? Silly? Hard? Stupid? Fun? Wonderful? Fantastic? Well don't give up. It may take some getting used to. It'll get easier. Don't think that every day has to be some well thought out, well staged, perfectly coiffed shot. That's not the point. Be you, in that moment. Not feelin' the prompts? Then do your own thing - ain't nothin' wrong with that! And don't stress if you miss a day, you won't be kicked out of the challenge or anything! Just pick back up the next day! If you haven't started yet, no worries! There's always time to jump on this party train! (It all started HERE .)

    We wanted to post next week's prompts a little early so you can be thinking about them! Hope you like 'em and have fun!! Week Two starts Sunday, June 28th. We'd also love to hear how you're feeling throughout the challenge, so feel free to leave us a comment!

    One more thing... we've changed the hashtag to #SummerOfSelfies2015, so don't forget to add it when you post your pics!

    Now go, be FABULOUS!!

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    #23 - Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara

    Even though today is only the second "official" day of Summer, we are almost halfway through our Summer Break! June has basically been a blur! I have to say that it has NOT been easy to try a new recipe each week. When things get busy I'm much more likely to slip into cooking the same ole, same ole instead of taking the time to plan for something different. There's nothing wrong with tried and true recipes but for the sake of this blog and the challenge I made myself (a new recipe each week), I've got to keep going!

    This one is quick and easy, hence the name... Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara. Fifteen minutes from the stove to the table (or the countertop if you're at my house). Use any kind of pasta you have on hand. I used rigatoni.  It would also be good if you threw some frozen peas in towards the end of cooking. I might try that next time!

    Quick & Easy Pasta Carbonara
    Serves 4 - 6.

  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Italian-blend Cheese 
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Instructions
    • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve 1 cup water and drain well.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and cheese; set aside.
    • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes; leave about 2 tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan.
    • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
    • Working quickly, stir in pasta and egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
    • Serve immediately, topped with more cheese, if desired.

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Summer of Selfies Challenge

    There’s much being said about selfies lately.  I’ve put in my two cents about them (Me, Myselfies, and I).  Yes, sometimes they can be a bit over the top or even annoying, but are they really hurting anyone?  For me, selfies aren’t a “rub it in your face” or “look at me, look at me” kind of thing, they’re more of a “wish you were here to share this moment” kind of thing.

    Selfies have also been a learning experience for me. When I started posting my “Faces of Chemo” selfies, I had no idea the world it would open up for me. I posted my daily pics as a way to chronicle my breast cancer journey. That turned into 154 consecutive selfies posted (plus other “unofficial” posts). They weren’t meant to be pretty. It was just me, how I was feeling on that particular day.  Don’t get me wrong, there were rarely one-click-and-post shots and many re-shoots (I always go with the “law of three”, take at least three shots and pick the best one… take three more if needed), but something got posted every day.  And they weren’t all selfies in the traditional sense, I would from time to time enlist someone to snap the shot for me… sometimes my arms just aren’t long enough… still pictures of my “self”.  Anyway, back to the “learning” part.  As time went on, I started to become comfortable, comfortable with me.  I began to accept myself and how I looked (although the chemo clean slate of no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes wasn’t ideal).  This is me, today. I’m ok with that.

    You don’t need to go through something like cancer to have that kind of self-discovery. It just takes giving yourself a little bit of grace every day.  Embrace your flaws, they’re what make you YOU.  Don’t hide who you are.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  And the people who know you, they see you anyway (in real life). They love you and a less than perfect picture isn’t going to change that. If anything, it will help them share in your day, your up’s and down’s, your fun, your frustration, your adventures, your success and your losses, life.  That’s not a bad thing.

    Still not convinced?  Well, my friend Christine (my partner in selfie-crime) and I would like to invite you to join us in a “Summer of Selfies” Challenge. A selfie experiment, if you will.  Beginning on June 21st (the first official day of Summer) and running for 6-weeks, we will post prompts each week for daily selfies (like “sleepy selfie” or “at work selfie”). You would then post your selfies to Instagram and/or Facebook with the hashtag #SummerOfSelfies.  No worries if you miss a day or two (or three…), just pick right back up when you can.  It’s not a big deal that will require hours of pre and post production. Just do it and just be you.  Why should I, you ask?  Why not?!  It’ll be fun!! And let’s just see if you start to look at yourself a little differently when it’s all done.  Maybe you’ll decide you’re not so bad.  Maybe you’ll kind of start to like what you see.  You’ll never know unless you give it a try!
    Here are the prompts for the first week... start posting June 21st!

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    #22 - Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits

    I might have mentioned before that I have a thing for grits. I mean I REALLY do! That having been said, it's not unusual that I would base a meal around them. For me they are more than I side dish... they are the STAR!

    I found this recipe on Ree Drummond's website. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to try it! As usual though, I made a few changes to the recipe. First of all, Ree's beef cooks on the stove for about 3 hours and one day I'll try it that way. I just didn't have that kind of time to hang out in the kitchen, so I converted it into a slow cooker recipe. The second thing is that she put a whole stinkin' 11 ounce can of Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce into hers... that would be why it's called SPICY Stewed Beef! I decided to be a little more conservative and only used half a can (and it was still pretty spicy!). And the last thing I did differently was my grits. Stone Ground Grits are not all that common in my local grocery stores. Short on time, the only grits I could find were instant grits. Ree's grits took about an hour to cook and mine took about 20 minutes. Again, one of these days, I will try it her way! Oh, and I ended up making WAAAAAAAY to many grits! That's not a bad thing because a few days later I served the leftovers with bacon, a little more cheese, and topped with a fried egg... Mmmmmmm....

    This recipe is prefect for a crowd or a Sunday dinner.  It's a bit on the spicy side, but so good and rich. I didn't bother making anything else to go with it, but it would be great with green veg or a loaf of crusty bread (lots of butter). So, here you have it... get your grits (and spicy beef) on!

    Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits
    (Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman )
    Serves: A LOT!


    • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
    • 2 Tablespoons Butter
    • 3 pounds Stew Meat Or Diced Chuck Roast
    • 1/2 can Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
    • 4 cups Low-sodium Beef Broth
    • 5 cloves Minced Garlic
    • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
    • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
    • 1/2 an Onion, Diced
    • 1/2 a  Red Bell Pepper
    • 1 whole Anaheim Chili
    • 3 cups Instant Grits
    • 6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
    • 3 cups Water
    • 1 cup Heavy Cream
    • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese


    To make the meat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot over high heat. Throw in stew meat and brown for 1 minute, then add chipotle peppers, beef broth, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Stir, then bring to a boil. Transfer beef mixture to a preheated slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

    Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of both oil and butter. Add diced onion, bell pepper, and chilies and cook for five minutes or so. Add chicken broth and water, then bring to a boil . Reduce the heat to low, stir in grits and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the grits have thickened and start to become tender, add heavy cream.  Cook a minute or two more, remove from heat and stir in cheese.

    Serve a big ol' heap of grits smothered in the beef and all of it's yummy juices!

    (Recipe #22 of 52)

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    #21 - From Scratch Pancake Mix

    I absolutely LOVE breakfast! I REALLY LOVE pancakes! When I woke up this morning, ready to make some pancakes and realized I was out of Bisquik, I decided it was time to try making my own pancake mix, from scratch. I searched Pinterest for recipes and after finding quite a few, this is what I came up with. It doesn't take much more work than using a store-bought pancake mix does and if you make up a batch it'll last you a few meals.  The bonus is that all the ingredients were stuff I had in my pantry! Just a side note, I like to add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the batter but if you don't have it, no sweat!

    From Scratch Pancake Mix
    For Pancake Mix
    • 6 cups all purpose flour
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    For Pancakes
    • 1 cup Pancake Mix
    • 1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
    1. Whisk together all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
    2. To make the pancakes, simply mix together pancake mix, milk and egg. Heat a nonstick skillet and butter it. Pour ¼ cup batter onto the hot griddle. When the top of each pancake bubbles and bubbles begin to pop, flip and continue cooking on the second side. Each cup of dry mix will yield 4-6 pancakes.

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    #20 - Breakfast Grilled Cheese

    The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning is home for the summer and this Mama is pretty happy about that! I'm also pretty happy that this kid has been increasingly joining the ranks of a foodie! Gone are the days of only eating chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and pepperoni pizza... gone, but not totally abandoned 'cuz we like a good mac or pizza as much as the next guy! It's just nice to now have variety in our dinning choices.

    The other day, the boy and I watched a cute little flick called, Chef, starring Jon Favreau who plays a chef who quits his job at a popular restaurant and starts a food truck to reclaim his career and passion as a chef. In it, there is a scene where Chef makes a grilled cheese sandwich... I know what you're thinking, "bid deal, it's a grilled cheese sandwich," but just you watch...

    Ooooooh, cheeeesy goodness! Yummy, right?! And that got us thinking... ya know what would make that sandwich even better?? A fried egg and bacon! The birth of our Breakfast Grilled Cheese! It's nothing fancy and it's not even pretty, but it sure is tasty (be prepared to have egg yolk running down your elbows when you dig in)!


    2 slices of bread, your choice
    butter, softened
    2 strips of bacon
    1 egg
    4-6 slices of sliced cheese, your choice
    salt and pepper
    • Cook bacon in a frying pan.
    • While the bacon is cooking, butter one side of each slice of bread.
    • Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter into a separate frying pan (med-low heat) and place bread into pan, buttered side down and top with cheese.
    • When the bacon is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Carefully crack egg into the pan with remaining bacon grease. Cook until your desired "doneness" (is that a word?). Season with salt and pepper.
    • Place egg on one of your bread slices and bacon strips on the other. Flip the bacon side onto the egg side and cook a minute or two more, turning once.
    • Cut in half and enjoy!
    Not the best picture! We were too anxious to eat
    it to take a good one!
    (Recipe #20 of 52)

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    #19 - Tropical Oat Squares

    I made these bars to take to my oncologist (Doc Onc) for my 3-month check up. I always take him goodies when I go and this time I wanted to try a "healthier" treat... oats and fruit, that's healthy, right?  Healthy or not, they were pretty tasty!

    Tropical Oat Square
    (Recipe from Cooking Creation)

    • 1/2 c butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 c nonfat Greek pineapple yogurt, room temperature
    • 1/2 c white sugar
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1 large egg, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 c quick cooking oats 
    • 1/2 c flaked coconut, sweetened 
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Pineapple Filling:
    • 2 c fresh pineapple, finely chopped 
    • 2 tbsp white sugar 
    • 1 lime, juiced 
    • Pinch of salt

    Make the pineapple filling.  In a small sauce pan, add the fresh pineapple, sugar, lime juice, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Continue to boil over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use a potato masher to mash the pineapple.  Continue to boil for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the butter, Greek yogurt, white sugar and brown sugar, until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the egg.  In a separate large bowl, add the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients with a spoon, being careful to not over mix.

    Spread half of the batter in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Pour the pineapple mixture (along with the juices) evenly on top of the batter.  Carefully spoon the remaining batter over the pineapple layer.

    Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely before serving.

    Monday, June 8, 2015


    I am SOOOO behind on my recipe posts! It's not that I haven't been cooking, it's that I haven't been posting! I'm going to try to pound out the posts this week to get caught up... no promises!

    This recipe is SUPER easy but the finished product looks and tastes FANCY SCHMANCY!  I'm pretty sure that even someone who is not a fan of asparagus might like this one... and if they don't, more for the rest of us! My asparagus was super long, even after cutting it down, so the tarts were probably a little big but I didn't hear anyone complain! You can serve them drizzled with a yummy balsamic reduction (I made that the day before... easy peasy!).  These would be great for appetizers, for brunch, lunch, or as side dish.... or anytime, just because!

    (I got 6-8 tarts out of this recipe or you could make one big one!)
    Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker

    2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold.
    1 egg, beaten
    2 cups finely grated gruyere cheese
    1-1 1/2 pounds slender asparagus
    kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
    olive oil
    balsamic reduction (recipe below)
    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    Unfold thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured work surface.  Unfold the pastry and slice into thirds at the creases.  Cut each strip in half, creating six equally sized rectangles - I used my asparagus as a gage of how long/wide my strips needed to be.
    Gently press each rectangle with your fingers, flattening slightly.  With a small pairing knife, score a 1/4 inch boarder along the inside of each rectangle.  Arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
    Brush each square lightly with beaten egg. Sprinkle with salt and coarse ground black pepper.  Top with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese.  Press five to six asparagus spears into the cheese. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with more coarsely ground black pepper.
    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puff pastry is golden brown and asparagus is cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with balsamic reduction.   Tarts can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
    Recipe from PopSugar
    All you need is a bottle of balsamic vinegar!

    Pour a cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the heat to a boil without reducing the heat on the stove.
    At this point, turn down the heat so that boil reduces to a simmer. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half (for a thinner reduction) or more (for a more syrupy consistency). However impatient you may be, don't try to increase the heat, unless you want to be left with a stiff, hardened mess!
    Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
    (Recipe #18 of 52)

    Thursday, May 28, 2015

    Me, Myselfies, and I

    “Have you seen Julie’s pictures on Facebook lately?”
    “She takes way too many selfies!”
    “Is she having a mid-life crisis?”
    “I bet you there’s trouble at home!”
     “She must think she’s all that and a bag of chips!”

    No, I’m NOT having a mid-life crisis.  And things are FINE at home.  And I DON’T think I’m “all that”, (well, maybe the bag of chips…). I’m fine. I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Not that I should have to explain myself, but maybe it will quiet some of the chatter. Even so, to quote my nemesis Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate,” and I know not everyone will appreciate what I have to say. Here goes anyway…

    For most of my 44 years on earth I was a wallflower, happy to go unnoticed. When I got old enough to be self-conscious, I didn’t like getting my picture taken anymore (if I remember correctly, that was around 6th grade when I puffed up like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man – before that, I was quite the little ham). I didn’t mind flying under the radar.  I did dabble in dramatic theater in junior high where I played “Jack” in an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”.  I then moved on to musical theater of sorts at church and then singing solos… but that was the extent of my time in the spotlight.  Fast forward to my 42nd year…

    Most of you have already heard the story, so I’ll keep it brief. I got breast cancer. I underwent about 7 months of chemo/surgery/radiation.  During that time a few things happened: 1.) I felt a little isolated, so I reached out via social media to share my journey, 2.) unsure of how chemo was going to affect my body, I started taking daily selfies to chronical my “change”, and 3.) I kicked cancer’s ass.  Social media made my world a whole lot smaller and I felt extremely loved and supported.  My “change” didn’t end up being much of a change on the outside (aside from going bald and having no eyebrows or eyelashes), but on the inside I was learning to be comfortable in the skin I was in by posting pics of my face EVERY SINGLE DAY for something like 150 days – talk about stepping out of your comfort zone… but that’s a whole other blog post! I quickly realized that people were watching! Oh, and the ass kicking part! Chemo shrunk the invader down to almost nothing, surgery cleaned things up so the twins got to stay together, and radiation made sure the area was all clear.  Then I was ready to make up for the time I had lost to cancer - “The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts...” (Joel 2:25).  Baby steps at first as I tried to figure out my new “normal” and then at full speed, making up “normal” as I went and pausing for a nap from time to time.

    I had chosen the word “shine” as my post-cancer mantra. “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world… shine!” (Matthew 5:14). Whatever I did, even the smallest thing, I wanted to shine with everything God had done in me and through me. With that came more pictures and in 2015 I chose a new mantra, “joy”. With everything I had been through, how could I not find and choose joy? Not just that, I also wanted to share joy. To me, that meant living life to the fullest. Taking advantage of opportunities that came my way. Trying new things. Doing things that made me happy (naps included). Eating things that made me happy. Spending time with family AND friends… all the while posting more pictures.

    My posts were never meant to brag or be showy. I’m sure there are some who got tired of seeing me and some who probably “unfriended” me.  Here’s the thing, I can’t go back to being a wallflower! It was my hope that I could make someone smile, share some joy, give some hope, make someone feel better about what they were going through, share faith, share fun, share friendship, share strength and courage, share love. That’s still what I hope for. God has been so good to me! Look deeper than the silly faces, the donuts, the mud covered body (if you don’t know, don’t ask), and see a girl who is thankful.  See a girl who loves life, her family and her friends.  See a girl who loves the Lord. See a girl that has chosen JOY. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions. If that’s just too hard to see or I’m too much for you, I understand… you can “unfriend” me. I won’t think any less of you. For those that stick around, thanks! I hope you enjoy the ride! And to all you wallflowers… it’s time to blossom!!
    For more on my breast cancer journey and beyond, check out my other blog: Stupid Cupcake Cancer

    Join my Summer of Selfies Challenge!

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    #17 - Masa Corn Cakes with Chorizo

    When I started this 52 recipes in a year thing, I said that I wouldn't just share the great recipes, but that I would even post some of the not-so-great ones... this would be one of those. Fear not amigos, there is still hope for this dish!  It wasn't terrible, it just needs a little tweaking.
    The original recipe I started with was from Cooking Light .  I chose not to make the pico de gallo included in the recipe. I was more interested in the "pancakes". As I started mixing the ingredients, it was quickly apparent that the 1 cup of warm water called for was way too much! It was the consistency of pancake batter, which would have been fine but I needed to "divide dough into 16 balls; flatten each to form into 2-inch pancakes". That was NOT going to happen! So, I added some more flour, some more masa (corn meal), maybe a little more baking powder, and then I added some corn (those cakes NEEDED corn). I ended up with a sticky batter more than a dough.  I shaped it into about 12 - 3" cakes and started frying.
    They weren't bad really.  The feedback I got was that they 1. needed more flavor and 2. needed more corn. I'd have to agree on the corn issue. The flavor... well, I'm the only one that ate chorizo with mine and the chorizo added plenty of flavor. The other two in the house have an aversion to chorizo, so they had beans, cheese and salsa.  Like I said, they weren't terrible and we didn't go hungry. I'd probably eat them again, as is.
    Masa Corn Cakes with Chorizo
    Yield: About 12 - 3" cakes.
    1 1/2 cups masa harina (cornmeal)

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1/8 teaspoon salt   

    1 ounce queso fresco, grated (about 1/4 cup)

    1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for cooking

    1 cup frozen corn, thawed (I used HERDEZ Sonora Blend (fire roasted corn, with red and green bell peppers)

    Your favorite chorizo, beans, salsa, sour cream, etc., for toppings



    1. Lightly spoon masa harina and flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine masa harina, flour, baking powder, queso fresco, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over top, and stir to form coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. Add 1 cup warm water, and stir until dough forms. Stir in corn. Divide dough into 12 balls; flatten each to form into 3-inch cakes.

    2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 teaspoon oil. Place 4 pancakes in pan, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until set and golden brown on bottom; flip and cook 2 to 3 additional minutes (you may need to add more oil). Repeat procedure with remaining pancakes and oil.

    3. Meanwhile, heat up your chorizo and beans. Serve cakes warm with desired toppings.

    (Recipe #17 of 52)







    Sunday, April 26, 2015

    #16 - Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Bean Frosting

    It had been a long time since any cupcakes came out of my kitchen. There was a time when that was just about all that came out of my oven. A friend of mine mentioned liking cherry chip cake with vanilla frosting so I figured, what the heck... I'll give that a try! It's fun making something with someone specific in mind and a bonus when they actually like it! I also sent a bunch to work with The Hubs because his co-workers are perfect guinea pigs and the cupcakes were a hit with them too.


    Cherry Chip Cupcakes
    with Fluffy Vanilla Bean Frosting

    Makes 22-24 cupcakes.

    1 package plain white cake mix
    1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
    1 - 10oz. jar maraschino cherries without stems, drained and finely chopped, juice reserved
    1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    3 large egg whites
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
    1 teaspoon almond extract

    1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners and set the pans aside.
    2. Place the cake mix, yogurt, cherries, cherry juice, oil, egg whites, vanilla and almond extract in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl. Beat for 11/2 to 2 minutes longer on medium, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed.
    3. Spoon or scoop a 1/4 cup of cupcake batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full.
    4. Bake the cupcakes until they are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
    1 cup shortening, Crisco
    1 - 7oz. jar marshmallow cream
    2 pounds powdered sugar
    1/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    For the frosting, place the shortening and marshmallow cream in a large mixing bowl, and blend with an electric mixer on low until creamy. Add powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and blend until smooth. Add more milk if needed.

    When cupcakes are cooled, frost generously. Top with a cherry or cherry candy if desired.

    Saturday, April 11, 2015

    #15 -Fixin' Floors and Dad's Beef Stroganoff

    Fixin' stuff with Dad.
    Dad and I spent the better part of the week on a minor remodel of our bathroom. Apparently, the toilet had been leaking for who knows how long and had turned the underlayment to mush. Some of the subfloor was pretty bad too!

    Stripped it all down...

    ...and here's my new floor!
    Of course I didn't stop with the floor! We decided to get a new vanity and sink.  I also got the bright idea to install wainscoting! Oh, and we had a stubborn leak under the sink.  I think it's all done now though. It needs some new paint but that's gonna have to be a Summer project 'cuz I'm done!
    In between all that fixin', Dad offered to cook dinner!! You better believe I took him up on the offer!! He made a super yummy beef stroganoff.  His recipe called for mushrooms, which I am NOT a fan of, but it was really good! I didn't even taste the fungi!

    Dad's Beef Stroganoff
    Adapted from Paula Deen.
    Yield: 4 servings (although if actually fed 6 of us)

    • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
    •  All-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
    • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
    • Kosher salt
    • Cracked black pepper
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • Cooked egg noodles

    Sprinkle the steak strips with salt and pepper, and then dust with flour. In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan. Add the onion slices, garlic and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.
    (Recipe #15 of 52)

    Thursday, April 9, 2015

    #14 - Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole

    I had the makings of a Happy Easter with my Mom & Dad (The 'Rents) and The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning in town! It was so good to have all of my people under one roof (my other two peeps - The Hubs and The One Still at Home were here too, of course!).  I spent the better part of the weekend in the kitchen cookin' up a storm for The Fam... LOVED IT!!!
    For Easter breakfast, we had Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole. As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe, like using croissants instead of bread and I added vanilla bean paste to the blueberry syrup. It was SUPER decadent! Dad said that he was pretty sure there was a law in California that stated you were only allowed to make this recipe once a year because it's too good. Tee, hee.... he's silly, but right!
    Here's the recipe and know that you've been warned!

    Overnight Blueberries and Cream French Toast Casserole
    Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups 
    Serves 10
    • 18 slices of white bread, day old works best OR 6-8 croissants
    • 2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
    • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar
    • 10 eggs
    • 1½ cups milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract (OR vanilla bean paste)
    • ⅓ cup maple syrup
    Blueberry Syrup
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp corn starch
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
    • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    1. Spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.
    2. Cut all the bread (croissants) into cubes. Spread half the bread in the prepared pan, pressing down slightly.
    3. In bowl of stand mixer beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Drop by the spoonful the cream cheese mixture evenly on the bread layer. Top with the blueberries and then the remaining bread.
    4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Pour over the entire casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
    5. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off.
    6. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil to bake.
    7. Bake covered at 350° for 30 minutes and then remove cover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until center is set.
    8. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
    Bluberry Syrup
    1. While the casserole is baking prepare the syrup. IN a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn starch and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it's reached a boil simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add in blueberries and simmer for 10 more minutes.
    2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.
    3. Pour syrup over entire casserole or individual portions.
    Serve immediately, or cover and store for up to 2 days, reheating before serving.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015

    #13 - Spring Break and Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto

    Just got back from 10 days in AZ with The Fam. It was Spring Break for The One Still at Home, so we headed to Mesa for some R&R, to take in some Chicago Cubs Spring Training, and to spend some time with The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning.  We had a great time (except for Still at Home stuck in bed for 3-days with the flu)!  We ate at our favorite restaurants, laid out by the pool, watched a BUNCH of baseball, and celebrated The Hubs' 50th birthday!  I thought about posting all of our trip pictures here like an old school slideshow... remember when people used to do that when they'd return from a trip? ..."and this was Aunt Martha standing next to the giant buffalo.."  Anyway, fear not, I only posted a few pics (the rest are all on Instagram if you're a glutton for punishment).


    After being away, it was good to get back in the kitchen! This week I came up with Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto.  I hadn't planned on eating much this week to make up for EVERYTHING I did eat last week, but knowing that I needed a recipe to post I just went for it.  I actually made it with stuff I already had in the kitchen... that was just pure dumb luck!  A quick shout-out to our friends Bill & Taffi for buying a case of Shock-Top beer, not loving it and passing it on to us! I don't love it either but I'll definitely use it for cooking!
    PS. My 'Rents are headed down this week! Looking forward to cooking up a storm for them! Recipes to follow.... for now, here's the risotto:

    Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto
    Yield: 8 (1 cup) servings


    • 2 slices bacon
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • ½ a small onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
    • 12 oz bottle of beer
    • 5 cups chicken broth
    • 1 ½ oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    • 1 cup shredded Smoked Gouda (I may have used a bit more than that)
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


    1. Cook bacon is a large sauté pan. When bacon is crisp, remove from pan and set aside. 
    2. Place the butter in sauté pan with remaining bacon grease and return to medium-low heat until butter is just melted. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until garlic is fragrant. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring throughout.
    3. Pour in the beer and turn the heat up to high until the beer begins to simmer. Reduce heat back to medium-low and add ½ cup of the chicken broth. Stir until the liquid dissolves and then add another ½ cup. Repeat until all the broth has been added and the rice is creamy and al dente.
    4. Remove the rice mixture from the heat and add the cheeses, bacon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until thoroughly combined and serve.

     (Recipe #13 of 52)