“You can’t be a grown-up woman and not like chocolate.” ~ Julie Dawn Cole

The biggest thing I noticed about my pre-preggo self and my post-preggo self (besides the obvious shifting of all things body) would be my cravings.

I used to love good old salty, savory snacks and appetizers.  I was never really tempted by ordering desserts at a restaurant or I never ventured over to the dessert table at a party or wedding.  I sometimes never even had a piece of the brides cake.

Now, I’m like – “Is that chick ever going to cut that dang cake!”

Sweets.

I just can’t say no.

I also never liked dark chocolate at all.

Now, I dream about it.

This pie helps with my new found addiction.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie

  • 1 ready made graham cracker crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Hershey bars (1.5 oz), chopped
  • 3 Special Dark Hersey bars (1.5 oz.), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Melt cream and chocolate in microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 45-60 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted. If additional melting time is needed, melt for 10 more seconds.

In a stand mixer, cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth.

Next, in the mixer, add chocolate mixture to cream mixture, reserving around 1/4 cup of chocolate mixture for garnish.

On a slow speed, add cool whip to mixture.

Pour mixture into prepared crust, smooth top and drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Dark Chocolate Mouse Pie

-abp

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“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” ~ Mae West

If you have visited my blog before, you know I like simple.

I also like good.

When I need a very impressive, delicious dessert, I turn to my mom. She is fabulous when it comes to wonderful desserts but when I make desserts – they are pretty easy and straight forward.

The following dessert is no exception.

It has a secret ingredient that makes it super moist – baby food.

I thought since I have a surplus of baby food on hand this would be a great, no fuss dessert to make for a weekday treat.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 jars (6 oz each) carrot baby food
  • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts

Frosting

  • 1 block cream cheese (8 oz.), softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 box (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, stir to combine the dry ingredients.

Add the oil, eggs and baby food and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until well blended.

Stir in pineapple and nuts.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks to cool completely

For frosting, in a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

Remove cake from pan, frost top and sides. Garnish with nuts if desired.

Store in the refrigerator.


-abp

“Two old Bachelors were living in one house; One caught a Muffin, the other caught a Mouse.” ~ Edward Lear

I seem to keep adding to my list of food obsessions.

The latest one is muffins.

I think what started this new craving was around Christmas when we went to the Opryland Hotel.

There are several restaurants in the hotel but only one that really served breakfast – if you have ever been to The Opryland Hotel at Christmas, you can only imagine how crowded that one restaurant would be!

So breakfast would consist of grabbing a quick bite at one of the few coffee shops scattered across the property.

There was still a pretty long line and  I remember thinking – I hope these muffins are worth it.

Well, they were and now I guess I keep hoping to find some as good as those.

You know, they might not have been that good – it could have just been the wonderful Christmas atmosphere that only The Opryland Hotel can give you…..

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour

Muffins

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For topping:

Mix sugars, flour and melted butter with fork until crumbly, set aside.

For muffins:

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer, use whisk attachment to mix sugar and eggs. Continue until completely mixed.

Slowly add in the butter and oil until combined. Followed by buttermilk and vanilla.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the flour mixture and blueberries. Do not over mix (it’s ok if it’s a little lumpy).

Fill a muffin tin lined with muffin cups ( 12 muffins) to the top.

Now, crumble the streusel topping on each muffin.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and toothpick  comes out clean.

Cool muffins for about 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to continue to cool before serving.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
-abp

“Open Sesame” ~ Ali Baba

I always come across Asian recipes I would love to try but I never do.

You know why?

I never have sesame oil and they all call for sesame oil. I never can remember to pick it up at the store.

Guess what?

I bought some sesame oil today!!

Whoot Whoot!

Guess what?

We are having an Asian Inspired dish tonight.

🙂

Korean Beef Bowl

(adapted from Mel’s Kichten Cafe)

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 4 green onions, chopped, divided
  • Hot, cooked rice

First start your rice or quinoa so that it will be ready about the time you finish up with the beef.

In a large skillet, brown the hambuger meat with 2 of the green onions and garlic. When cooked through, drain excess grease.

In a separate bowl, mix together soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, one green onion, sesame oil, ginger and red pepper flakes.

Stir sauce into beef mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over warm rice, garnish with remaining green onion.

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“Kiss my grits!” ~ Flo Castleberry

Some things are just southern.

Fried chicken.

Pimento cheese.

SunDrop and Nehi.

Cornbread.

But nothing says southern like grits.

Luckily the rest of the United States have started to catch on and use them in recipes at great restaurants across the country.

If you are new to the south and want to solidify your place here – try this recipe. If you are already from here, you already understand the importance of trying this recipe.

This recipe is versatile – it’s great for breakfast or to add to any shrimp and grits recipe.

Perfect Cheese Grits

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grits
  • 3 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook grits according to directions in chicken broth, adding garlic before grits.

Once grits are cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and cream.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

-abp

“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!” ~ Jane Austen

Some days I just need to make something quick for dinner.

I don’t mean a frozen pizza but something I actually make.

Something I can feel good about, knowing, I cooked dinner for my family.

But dang it,  sometimes I don’t feel like spending 30-45 minutes in the kitchen making dinner.

As you can tell, I’m not feeling very domestic today. I want/need to feed my family, I want/need to eat and I don’t want/need to get  take out.

The following recipe is a perfect fix for that dilemma.

Make a quick sauce. Boil noodles. Done.

20 minutes top.

I’ll even one up it and throw frozen garlic bread in the oven.

You know, I could try and be hip and say this is a “Meatless Monday” meal.

Even though it is just Sunday……but I’m just not that hip. 🙂

Oh well, it was very tasty, the hubs is happy and I can get back to working on my needlepoint.

Nice lazy day.

Pasta with Tuscan Cream Sauce

(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or the kind in a jar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.

Add basil, then cream cheese. Whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy

Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.

Gradually add the milk, ¼ cup at a time. Each time, whisking until completely blended in sauce.

Once all milk is incorporated, stir in cheese, pepper and salt.

Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring until the cheese is melted (5-10 minutes).

Serve over warm, cooked bow-tie pasta.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped tomatoes.

**This would be great with a grilled chicken breast**

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-abp

“And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.” ~ J. K. Rowling

As I have mentioned before – I have never been to Mardi Gras but it is definitely on my list of “to-dos”!

And just like last year when I made Mini King Cakes, I am determined to have a little Mardi Gras fun right here at home this Fat Tuesday.

This year it will be in the form of Beignets.

When in New Orleans, Cafe du Monde is a must at least once a day. I have been known to pop in twice. My own order of beignets and a cafe au lait (hot in the winter, iced in the summer) makes for one very happy girl.

Making them at home will never be the same but it is a great holdover until I make it back to my happy place!

Biscuit Beignets

  • 1 can buttermilk biscuits
  • Vegtable Oil
  • Powdered Sugar

Cut each individual biscuit into thirds.

In a dutch over, heat 2 inches of oil over medium high heat until it gets to 350º. (Check with a candy thermometer – it must not be too hot).

In batches, fry biscuit pieces on each side until golden brown (30-60 seconds per side).

Drain on a paper towel lined plate and dust with lots of powdered sugar.

Let sit for 10 minutes.
Serve.

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-abp

“Why is it so hard to find an exercise bike with a nice little basket where I can put my nachos?” ~ Ron Alderson

If you are like me and should always be watching what you put in your mouth but never really want to – this quick little jewel of an idea is a great compromise.

It is great for an afternoon snack, a family dessert or can be taken to a party or get together.

And you don’t have to feel too guilty.

The wonderful bonus is how SIMPLE it is to create.

Caramel Apple Nachos

  • Pre-sliced bag of Granny Smith Apples
  • Tub of Caramel apple dip
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Salted peanuts, chopped

**The amounts would be determined by how much you are making.**

Layer apples on a serving platter.

In a glass bowl, melt caramel dip in microwave until soft enough to drizzle.

Drizzle (amount up to you) caramel over apples.

Sprinkle chocolate chips and peanuts on top.

Serve immediately.

 

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-abp

“It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.” ~ Ernie Harwell

My friends and I, The Regular Crew,  as they are called, will pretty much come up with most any reason to have a “gathering”.

These gatherings are always a fun, good excuse to try one of those new appetizers that cover up Pinterest. This gathering is no exception except that is will be bittersweet because the reason for this gathering is to say goodbye to 2 of our own, as they embark on their next life adventure in Indiana. 😦

While trying not to get too blue about that fact for the moment, lets focus on the app at hand.

I know most everyone has had the ham and cheese sandwiches with the popyseed/mustard spread and those really can’t be beat so today, so I’m not going to change up the original idea of the sandwiches but the way they are constructed.

Ham and Cheese Rolls

(adapted from Kevin & Amanda)

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza crust
  • 3/4 lb deli ham (thinly sliced, but not shaved)
  • 12 slices Swiss cheese (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray a 9×13 in baking dish with cooking spray.

Unroll pizza dough and stretch/press it out until it is around 13×18 in size.

On a cutting board, layer ham and cheese evenly on top of pizza crust. Tightly roll up the longer side, all the way to the edge. Pinch together and place seam side down.

Cut into 1 inches slices (12 in all) and arrange in baking dish.

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat,

Combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and poppy seeds.
Whisk until all the butter is melted and ingredients are completely combined.
Pour evenly over rolls.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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-abp

“My bathing suit said ‘go to the gym’, but my sweatpants said ‘nah girl, you’re good'” ~ unknown

Do you ever get lazy in the kitchen?

Boy, I do.

I get the incredible urge for cookies and I have all these fabulous recipes I want to try but the minute I think about pulling out that heavy Kitchenaid mixer – I think, nah.

If I can’t easily mix it up with the hand-mixer, I’ll just forgo them that day.

That’s why these cookies are just perfect!

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup of butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 jar (16 oz) peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350°
In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

Scoop out and roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Then make the classic peanut butter cookie indentations with a for – dip fork in white sugar before making each hatch mark..

Cook for around 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

**note: all ovens cook differently, so watch closely as cooking times may need to be adjusted.

Really, how simple is that?!

IMG_0103

-abp