Here are some random bits from all over the interwebs that have been interesting to me lately:

Check out this very fun blog that two of my friends co-write: trailer trash glam. They both live in (or are about to) small mobile home park model trailers on different sides of the USA. They both are fashionistas. They both are bargain hunters/queens of thrift. They both love coffee. Basically, their awesome. 🙂 You’ll enjoy reading about their lives.

great post about how YOU can help with and/or prevent situations like Davion Only’s. There’s something for you.

recipes i’ve tried recently –

  • pumpkin cupcakes from smittenkitchen – absolutely fabulous. The texture is delicate and the frosting divine.
  • cauliflower soup from The Pioneer Woman (i didn’t use nearly as much dairy as the recipe calls for, though. sheesh.)

reminder – MAKE THESE PUMPKIN BARS. I made them again yesterday for company we had last night and for something this weekend and ohhhhh mama.

recipes in queue –

applesauce cupcakes w/ brown butter cream cheese frosting

Applesauce Cupcakes
(recipe from The Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge, TN)

1 C butter
2 C sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 C applesauce
2 t soda
4 C flour
1 T cinnamon
1 T allspice
1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter & sugar; add beaten egg. Heat applesauce; stir in soda. Add alternately with sifted four, spices, & vanilla to cream mixture. Bake in greased muffin tins until light brown, approximately 15 to 20 min. Batter will keep covered in refrigerator for several days.

Browned Butter and Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, browned in skillet
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat well. I say 3-4 cups of powdered sugar because I can’t remember how much I used! But obviously, you want it to be a good spreading or piping consistency.

And if I were a good blogger, I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t. 🙂 Enjoy!

favorite recipe of the week::creamy pumpkin pie bars

For the love of all that is pumpkin, pecans and autumn in the kitchen, PLEASE make these creamy pumpkin pie bars this week. Tomorrow. Oh heck, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW AND MAKE THESE. They are sooooo good. I will not confirm nor deny a rumor that i may have eaten half of the pan by myself over the past two days. But if you guessed yes, you’re probably right. 😉

picture from Joy the Baker

My tweaks: I (sadly) had no pecans in the house, so I skipped those and added 1/2 cup more oats into the crust. I also used a food processor for both the crust and the filling. Bam! So quick and so easy. Make sure your cream cheese is niiiiice and soft, or it will get chunky and chunky, my friends, is not okay. Except on babies. Then chunky is welcome and delicious. Oh and maybe chunky peanut butter – if you’re not a smooth fan.

Anyway – I digress.

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars from Joy the Baker

makes 9 bars in a square 8×8-inch pan (I used a 9×9 and they were perfect)

For the Crust:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

9 roasted pecan halves for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.

In the work-bowl of a food processor, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and pulse until the  butter is the size of small peas and oat flakes.  Pour into a bowl, add the oats and the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.

Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be the crumble topping. (mmmhm.)

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, place VERY SOFT cream cheese in the wiped out work-bowl of the food processor. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and process until smooth – about a minute or less.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  I like to slice and serve these bars chilled. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. HA. Like they’re going to stay in your fridge for 4 days – that’s a good one.

These are the perfect marriage of crumbly, oat-ey goodness and tangy, sweet, creamy pumpkin nirvana. And if you make them, please share one, a cup of coffee and some adult conversation with me. 🙂 You’re welcome!

recipes of the week

I’m attempting to be more regular about this ol’ blogging thing. 🙂 We’ll see how long THAT lasts, huh? But I used to do a favorite recipe post and I currently have quite the stack of delicious morsels to share with you.

Roasted Apple Spice Cake – deb from smittenkitchen has yet to steer me wrong. I am anxiously awaiting her cookbook, which my sweet friend Lindsey pre-ordered for me for my birthday in June – it should arrive on my doorstep on Nov. 1. One more week! This cake is off the chain fabulous. Simple, not too sweet (which I really appreciate these days) and delicious. I love a fall apple cake warm from the oven – this is one to keep for sure. To make one 9×13 cake like i did (the recipe as written makes a DOUBLE layer sheet cake – which is gigantic), just halve the cake recipe and do 1/3 of the frosting recipe.

Butternut Squash Chicken Stew with Quinoa – I came across this on Pinterest and its been a winner. Everybody likes it in our house. (thank goodness for that!) My only tweaks are to leave out the olives because who likes THOSE in stew? Gross. I don’t like them anytime, but especially not randomly tossed into a stew. Sometimes I also add kale or chard for some extra nutritional punch.

Coconut Chai Coffeecake – yep. so good. Crunchy, dense, buttery topping on a perfect crumbed cake. You’ll want a steaming mug of coffee to cut through the sweetness, but that’s the whole point of coffeecake, yes?

Pumpkin Scones – a basic recipe for recreating something similar to a Starbucks pumpkin scone. But better. I usually skip one of the glazes because otherwise I find them wayyyy too sweet, but that’s just me, I’m sure. I also found that the liquid amount is too little – I always add a bit more than the recipe calls for. Favorite way to do these is to make them the night before, shape them and pop them in the fridge. Then pre-heat the oven in the morning, bake and glaze the hot little bites of fall just before serving. We had these at Taylor’s birthday party earlier this month.

Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage and Carrots – I’m totally obsessed with this salad. I’ve made it approximately 6 times in the past 4 weeks. Thankfully, I have an abundance of kale in my little hydroponic deck garden. The apples, cashews and pop of brightness from the lime juice really make it work. How can something sooo healthy for you taste soooo good? Try it! It would also work with spinach if you’re not a big kale fan. But if you haven’t TRIED kale, I implore you to get some and join the kale party. Stat. It’s such a beautiful salad too.

And now, all the recipes I haven’t yet made, but are on my to-make-ASAP list:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – I know, right? Two of the best things about fall – pumpkin and baking warm, cinnamon-ey things, put together! I will make a full report on how they are as soon as I make them.

Double Dipped Apple Doughnuts – I think I’d call these deep friend apple rings, but ya know, she didn’t ask me. 🙂 I bookmarked these ages ago. I bet they’ll be tasty!

Earl Grey Chocolate Cake – This week I broke out the tea pot and have been making an enormous cup of strong earl grey with cream and a touch of sugar most mornings. This cake intrigues me to no end…once upon a time I had an Earl Grey truffle at the amazingness that is Theo.

I promise, I do cook really healthily 90% of the time and don’t continually bake my way to 300 lbs. Not that the past three recipes would give you that impression or anything. ahem.

Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli – I will probably not make my own pasta sheets for this (I’m not Martha Stewart, poppets), but i absolutely adore these flavor profiles, so I thought it sounded like something i should make. Totally girly food.

Brussels Sprouts Salad – as addicted as I am to pan-fried or roasted brussels sprouts, I have a sneaking suspicion that I will eat the entire bowl of this salad. Possibly in one sitting. Good thing they come in 2 lb. bags at Costco. 😀

So now that you’ve gained 23 pounds just by reading this post, let me know what delicious recipes you’ve tried lately!

FROTW: chocolate dutch pancake

Last week, I was perusing the latest edition of Everyday Food (a terrific little food magazine with great recipes – so far everything I’ve made from its pages have been winners) and came across a recipe for Chocolate Dutch Baby pancake. Some call it an oven pancake, or a dutch pancake, some call it aggekage or pannenkoeken, but whatever the heck you want to call this amazing breakfast food, its delicious! 🙂

My go-to (not chocolate) dutch pancake recipe is memorized and we have it for breakfast about once every ten days. My favorite part is that it is SO fast and easy to whip up and there’s no standing over the stove/griddle to flip pancakes. They also have plenty of protein in them from the eggs and milk. At our house I have to make two pancakes for us – Kyle eats 3/4 of one, I eat 1/2 of the other and Jack eats almost 1/2 as well! I can only imagine how many will be in the oven when we have a larger family. lol.

This chocolate version is tasty and sweeter than the original recipe, so it really only needs a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh fruit to complete it. No syrup necessary. 🙂 It would make a lovely dessert for a brunch too.

Chocolate Dutch Baby – From Everyday Food, Issue 82 – May 2011

Serves 2-4

3/4 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teas. salt
1/2 teas. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar for dusting
Sliced fresh fruit – we used bananas and strawberries
Whipped cream, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put butter in a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet and pop in the oven to melt while you blend up the pancake batter. In a blender, combine milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and sugar. Blend until foamy, about 1 minute. (You can also whisk all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, but it gets puffier if you blend it.) Remove skillet with the melted butter from the oven, pour the batter in and return it to the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately with fruit and whipped cream, if desired.

favorite recipe of the week: fish tacos

I can’t remember where we first enjoyed fish tacos, but since we were introduced, we’ve been “hooked”. Not like your typical American beef and cheese taco at all, these are fresh tasting – bursting with bright and tangy flavors. I like to fry my corn tortillas in a little coconut oil to make taco shells too…but that’s just me. 🙂

My fish taco recipe is a hybrid of a couple I found on allrecipes.com and merged into my favorite way of preparing them. I usually serve it with mexican rice or corn, depending on how much time I have in the kitchen before dinner. The other thing I love about them is they are super fast to whip up since the fish cooks so quickly. The deep-fried taco shells take more time of course, but you can always sub flour tortillas instead.

Fish Tacos ala’ Johanna

Serves 2

1 lb. of cod or other white fish


¼ cup tequila

¼ cup water

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar (turbinado works well)

1 tablespoon chili powder

Marinate fish while preparing the rest of the meal.

White Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dill

½ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar


½ head cabbage, shredded

1 carrot shredded

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Green onions, chopped

Lime wedges

Corn or flour tortillas

Fry or grill fish. You can batter it if you wish, but I never do. Fry corn tortillas into taco shells if desired. Top fish in taco shells with cabbage and carrots, cilantro, green onions and white sauce, squeeze limes on top. Additional accompaniments: queso fresco and tomatoes.


favorite recipes of the week

this week I just have one recipe to share…a delicious and simple coleslaw recipe from my friend Stephanie. This week I also made these cookies, but they turned out a little dry (I probably added too much flour) and they were a bit too sweet for my taste, but they were devoured nevertheless. 🙂 Stephanie’s Coleslaw (with a kick!) 1 green onion, chopped 1 large carrot, shredded 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 1/2 cabbage head Dressing: 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar Instructions Cut the cabbage into chunks and using a food processor, gently process the onion, parsley and cabbage. Process lightly, making sure the cabbage doesn’t become mushy. I like to process half of the cabbage and then the other half, just to make sure it’s all even. Mix the cabbage mixture together with the shredded carrots. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and allow to stand for a few minutes. Combine the dressing with the vegetables and toss. Chill for 1 hour. Yum!

favorite recipes of the week

almost every week I try a new recipe. I just LOVE new discoveries in the kitchen and thought perhaps some of you might share my delight!

Yesterday I tried two new ones and they were both winners…hope you like them!

Recipe One

I wanted to make chicken cacciatore for dinner. So I went to my trusty Epicurious app on my iPod Touch to find a recipe. The one below was fantastic! My only tweaks to the recipe were these: I used boneless, skinless breasts because thats what I had on hand. Skipped the fennel seed (ew – can’t stand it!), and the dried crushed red pepper because I didn’t have any. It was SOOOO yummy.

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore – Bon Appetit – June 1999

  • 4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound egg noodles, freshly cooked

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; sauté 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients to skillet; stir 2 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, wine and vinegar. Return chicken to skillet; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Arrange spaghetti on large platter; top with chicken and sauce.

Recipe Two

Before bed, I threw together this amazing coffee cake to put in the oven in the morning. So far, I have been totally impressed with every recipe I have made from Smitten Kitchen and this one did not disappoint either. In fact, its freakin’ fabulous. It may edge my grandma’s sour cream coffeecake recipe out of its top favorite slot. My tweaks: left out the rhubarb and sprinkled a few mixed berries on part of it because Kyle’s not a big fan of fruit in his coffeecake (but I am!). I also assembled it last night and baked it this morning. It worked just great to do it that way. It’s particularly delicious with a cup of Starbucks Tribute blend to accompany your large piece.

Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07

Not rhubarb season? Don’t fret. I think this cake would be amazing with a blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit filling you can think of. Simply adjust the sugar level accordingly–most of these will need far less than rhubarb does to make them palatable.

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs [this step now updated, see comment #150] in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.