Sunday, October 30, 2011

REDRUM! REDRUM! Frozen RedRum Punch


RedRum Punch just in time for Halloween!

bone chilling frozen RedRum punch

Who hasn't seen the movie The Shining? 

Well, if you haven't, you need to.

I will be the first to admit that scary movies are NOT my favorite. Especially the slasher kind.

But movies like this one, that keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, or snuggling close to that special someone only to leave a bruise on their leg where you grabbed it in a moment of fear...

...these movies are so worth it!

The Shining is a movie like that.

A family trapped in a snowstorm in a hotel in the mountains, totally alone, and totally losing their minds.

"Here's Johnny!"

Jack Nicholson plays an author that thinks an opportunity of spending the winter at this hotel with his family to work on his book, sounds like the perfect way to spend the winter.

But quickly things turn badly.

all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

As he types and types and slowly begins to lose his marbles his son begins seeing things and people that aren't there.  Peddling the halls on his big wheel, he begins to repeat the word "REDRUM."

the twins

the mom is played by Shelley Duvall

One night the son walks into his mother's room where she is sleeping, and takes her red lipstick and writes REDRUM on her door. 

She awakens to see him standing over her with a butcher knife, repeating REDRUM, REDRUM over and over again.

She looks to the door and then looks in the mirror across from it to see that REDRUM, spelled backwards spells MURDER.

This is the scene from the movie

This movie was released in 1980, and it still scares the bejeepers out of me!!

One night last week, I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, and my mind was wandering to blog... the places it usually goes.

We had tickets for the Husker game that Saturday, and it was an early one, so I was trying to think of what to make for the tailgate before.

I decided to make those little cocktail weenies wrapped in bacon and baked with brown sugar. 

They are always a hit, and seemed good for the morning!

I didn't take a picture of them, but here is a link to the instructions for them:

Turns out, the weenies also doubled as a nice handwarmer!

I needed something creative for the Huskers and for Halloween weekend.

I started thinking about drinks that were red.

  All of the sudden, REDRUM popped into my brain and the drink was born.

The next day I started creating it to put it in the freezer. 
 I have made my recipe for Vodka Slushes many times, and I know that the recipe is tried and true, so I used the alcohol vs. liquid in that recipe to gauge measurements for this one.

frozen RedRum punch

Frozen REDRUM Punch

750 ml bottle of Bacardi Razz
2 Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (the makes one quart size)
8 Cups of Hawaiian Punch
2 packages of  unsweetened Tropical Kool-Aid
1 cup Sugar

Stir ingredients together and freeze for at least 24 hours.
Scoop into glass and pour 7UP over the top.

It was 27 degrees yesterday morning when we were tailgating, it was sort of nippy for a frozen drink, but the sun was shining, my Huskers had won, and life was good!

We took my brother and his fiance to the game, we had a GREAT Time!

enduring 27 degrees of fun!
My husband and I , my brother and his fiance

"Here’s to the Witches,

Here’s to their cats,

Here’s to the hoot owls

And Whirring bats;

Here’s to the ghosties,

In robes of white,

Here’s to the thrills of

Hallowe’en night."

Want to read more on The Shining?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here's Peeking at you...OWL Cupcakes

Today, my husband's office is having a little Trick-or-Treat get together for it's employees and their kids.

We used to do this every year, but when the office manager left a couple of years ago,
 the fun kind of went by the wayside.

Well, this year, two of the gals that work there decided it was time to do a little something fun for the kids.

So, they are doing trick-or-treating through all of the offices.

It's nice and warm inside,  AND it's a great opportunity to get more use out of their costumes!! 

We're in!

They are having some snacks in their break room, but I called and said I would bring 
something a little special.

My daughter, Josie and I have been wanting to make owl cupcakes, so I thought this would be a great opportunity!

how cute are they?!? 

The other day I decided they needed to perch in a tree, so I taped two cake card boards together, covered them in brown paper and got the art supplies out.  

I drew up a big harvest moon behind a spooky tree.  

Here are our owls perched.

My assistant baker, she's sporting my candy corn apron, and her rollers! 

I said, "wait a second, I am the one going as a Desperate Housewife!!"

If you have never seen these done before,  trust me, I am not saying this is an original idea by me,
 here is what you need.

owl cupcakes

OWL Cupcakes

Chocolate Cake Mix, baked into cupcakes
Chocolate Frosting, we went the easy route and used the stuff in the can.  

(Did you know Pillsbury has it with a decorative tip and everything now?
It's like spray cheese but FROSTING! ;)

Oreo Sandwich Cookies
M & M's
Candy Corn

Bake your cupcakes, cool and frost them.  Break the cookies apart using the frosted side, press an M & M in the middle of each to make his eyes. 

Of course, the bag of M & M's we bought had hardly any brown, so some of our owls have green eyes! 

Press the cookie eyes onto the cupcake, using your frosting as the glue.

Add an upside down candy corn for his beak, and you are all set!

I don't know about you but, 

OWL-uv this idea!

Here are my little trick-or-treaters ready to head out on their first candy spree!!

on the left we have WWE Super star, John Cena and 
on the right, complete with beauty mark and leg warmers, my little 80's Girl!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Baked Chicken Stuffed with Long Grain and Wild Rice

You can have Sunday Dinner any 'ol time with this family favorite!

chicken stuffed with long grain and wild rice

This is a family favorite on Sundays.  It's so easy though, you can make it any 'ol time!

I always make this ahead in the morning or over lunch in my roaster, then place it in the oven on time bake for a no fuss meal that looks so much harder than it is!

Chicken Stuffed with Long Grain and Wild Rice

1 large whole chicken, washed (I try to find one that is 3+ lbs for our family of six)
2-3 packages of Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice Packets, cooked according to package instructions

this is it!

spray butter
sea salt
cracked black pepper

Spray your roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

Wash your whole chicken in cold water, inside and out. 

this is where I usually make him "dance" for the kids... but of course this step is optional!

 Stuff chicken with  rice.

Place in roaster.

Spritz the outside of the chicken with spray butter and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Bake at 375 degrees covered for 90 minutes.  For 30 minutes more,  uncover and baste the chicken a couple of times.  For a large chicken stuffed like I make it, total cooking time is about 2 hours.

*You may need to adjust if you are making a smaller chicken stuffed with only one packet of rice.

*Just use your meat thermometer, and test to see if it's done.
The breast should be about 170 degrees when chicken is done.

This always turns out good for me.  The meat is juicy and tender and the skin is crispy.

I also like to add mushrooms ... but I add mushrooms to almost everything! ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bubblicious Bubblegum Cupcakes with Bubblegum Buttercream Frosting

bubblegum cupcakes with bubblegum buttercream frosting

So I guess I bake a lot of cupcakes. 

My kid's friends seem to think I always have cupcakes on my kitchen counter.

My daughter's friend Amelia (Aimee) LOVES to see them when she visits. 
So, how could I let her birthday go by without something baked especially for her?

I racked my brain to come up with something worthy a girl's slumber party in honor of her 15th birthday.  Then it hit me... BUBBLE GUM!!

I searched high and low for bubble gum extract, and finally found it, then the idea was born and the cupcakes were baked.

 how cute are they?? and the gift screams 15 year old girl!

Even better, the bubble gum pink frosting went so well with my cute Zak cupcake shaped tray!

LOVE my Zak wear!!

scoop your frosting on your cupcakes with an ice cream scoop for a different look!

So, pull up a chair, grab your coins and see if you get your favorite colored gumball...

I always liked the pink and white...

 can you find the cupcake?

Bubblegum Cupcakes with Bubblegum Buttercream Frosting

1 box white cake mix
1/8 teaspoon bubblegum extract
brightly colored sprinkles

4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon bubblegum extract
bubblegum balls
pink food coloring gel

Make cake mix according to the package directions. Add 1/8 teaspoon of bubblegum extract. Fold in brightly colored sprinkles.  Bake in cupcake liners. 

when they come out of the oven they look like they have gumballs baked right in!

To make frosting whip all of the ingredients together,  color until bubblegum pink and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  

my pampered chef easy accent decorator loaded and ready

I have used the icing bags many times to decorate, or even just a plain 'ol plastic bag with the corner cut out, but I have to say I LOVE my Pampered Chef decorator! 
I always use it at Easter to make my deviled eggs, too!!

 I sprinkled them with "bubblegum blue" crystals. Then top the cupcake with a gumball!

the frosting smells AMAZING!


Ooooo.... and when you EAT them!?!?



my daughter and Aimee on "Neon Out" night at the football game

Friday, October 21, 2011

the very BEST Banana Bread

grandma's banana bread

How does that saying go?

"when life hands you lemons...make margaritas??? er...uh... I mean lemonade?"

Well what do you do when life hands you overly ripe bananas??
Make banana bread,  of course!

I just have to ask a somewhat unrelated question.... am I the only one who thinks of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" song when I spell Bananas?!!?

"This shhhh is bananas... B-A-N-A-N-A-S!!"

Figured I would add the link to her video, in case you wanted to listen to it while you baked bread...
but don't blame me the next time you spell bananas as a "cheer!" ;)

I have always liked banana bread since I was a kid.  But when I grew up, for some reason it just never turned out right when I made it. 

 I mean, SERIOUSLY how hard could it be, right?

Well, I was over my friend, Tonja's house when our oldest were knee high and she had made banana bread. 

It was SO GOOD!!  She looked at me like I was nuts, I mean it's banana bread right?? 

Well, Tonja, is an incredible baker, so I am sure my "wow factor" to her was like...
"'s pretty's just banana bread."

So, needless to say I got the recipe from her.

Banana bread at my house hasn't been the same since.

I guess I wasn't so crazy, because I have had many friends say they don't have a good banana bread recipe either and I have shared it with them, and they think the same thing. 

This isn't your average banana bread, folks.

When my kids were little, we would make this together. 
I mean what kid doesn't like mashing bananas with a potato masher?!

We would follow the recipe, and mix it together and I would say
"There's one ingredient that isn't on the recipe."
I told them it was "my special ingredient" and I would whisper that they needed to keep a secret. As I looked over both shoulders to make sure that no one was watching, I sprinkled in cinnamon to the batter.

Ok... I'm not so cool to you guys, but my kids thought I was telling them something very top secret!

Well, my secret is out...and it's safe with you right?
This amazing recipe only gets better when you add the cinnamon.

Thank you, Tonja, from me, and from all of the others who had banana bread recipes that were just "okay." 

This one is a treasure!

Tonja's Grandma's Banana Bread

It is seriously the Last Banana Bread Recipe You Will EVER Need!

The very BEST Banana Bread Recipe

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
6 Tablespoons milk
(shhhhh....) 1 /2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and bake in a prepared loaf pan at 350 degrees for one hour.

You can add nuts if you desire

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chocolate Macaroon Tunnel Bundt Cake

Happy birthday to my sweet hubby!!

My husband's favorite cake has always been chocolate macaroon.

chocolate macaroon tunnel cake

Many moons ago, when my husband and I were planning our wedding, and I was having bridal showers, my Aunt Carol gave me my first (and only) bundt cake pan.  She had remembered Brian mentioning his love of this cake.  Inside the cake pan was the box mix for Chocolate Macaroon.

 I think it was Pillsbury that made it?

Anywho.... he was excited and I baked it for him for his birthday.

no need to put ALL of those holes in the cake with THAT many candles. four will do

The very next year, they quit making it.

Now I am not a fan of coconut, so if it wasn't his favorite cake,
this would have gone totally unnoticed by me.

But it was.

I searched high and low, and couldn't find one anywhere.

For years I tried to find him one that was similar, or maybe turn him on to a new cake?

One year I made this tall gorgeous Waldorf Astoria cake.

Red  is his FAVORITE color...

The cake was gorgeous!! But, it weighed about 50 pounds.

Epic fail.

I am most definitely a cake mix kinda girl!!

Well, back in the dark ages when we got married, and the cake was ripped from the grocery shelves,  Google wasn't even born yet.  It wasn't like today when you can just hop on your computer, or your phone for that matter and find whatever you want!!

But once google was born, I started trying recipes that said they tasted like the old box mix.

Year after year I tried. 

Bless his heart, he was so sweet to say "it's okay, I mean it's close...but not quite there"
He ate them every time so I wouldn't feel bad.

Finally, I decided to take a couple of different recipes and tweak them and merge them and
By George,  I had it!! 
I think his words were something like "You FINALLY did it!!"

In our house, on your birthday, you get to choose what you would like me to make you for dinner. 
(trust me when I say, that this gets VERY interesting with twins.
Most often their requests don't exactly "go" together!)

Then your dinner is served on "the birthday plate."
(compliments of my friend Candi who sent these to me long ago. Yes, of course, we have two!)

Brian's request last night was spaghetti and meatballs.  I made it using my spaghetti sauce I canned a couple of months ago. 

spaghetti with meatballs on the birthday plate

We enjoyed a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs with a side of sweet corn (don't ask me, he said his Mom always made corn when she made spaghetti... it's his birthday I didn't ask questions!! ;)
 and ciabatta cheese bread.

After his dinner I brewed some decaf coffee and we blew out candles and enjoyed his cake!

it looks like a giant donut from this angle!  That "puddle" of icing in the middle is the BOMB.  just sayin'....

In our family when one of us has a birthday, after the birthday person blows out the candles, we go in order of "who's birthday is next" and they get a trial run at the candles!

one of our twins... he's got four candles down, now he needs to get nine next month!

So here is the recipe that I use for his birthday cake every year.

I just have to say that when I put this on the fireplace to take a picture, my boxer looked at it then at me with that look like "For ME?!?!"

Chocolate Macaroon Tunnel Bundt Cake

One Chocolate Cake Mix- prepared according to box instructions
(I have used German Chocolate or Devils Food)

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flaked coconut
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon butter 2 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
for chocolate glaze you can add 2 Tablespoons of cocoa to the above mixture.
(I glaze with both flavors.  Because did I mention how good that puddle of icing int he middle is?!?!)

If you're in a hurry, you can cheat and microwave frosting in a can and drizzle over the top. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Prepare cake mix as per box instructions.  In a separate bowl mix up the coconut filling.

Pour about 1/2 of the cake mix into your bundt pan. Now spoon filling in a "tunnel" on top of the batter.
Be careful not to let the filling touch the pan.

 Now pour and evenly cover the tunnel with the rest of the batter.  

Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 20-30 minutes and turn onto a plate to cool the rest of the way.

Drizzle with frosting if you desire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

the versatile blogger award

I have been blessed to have been awarded The Versatile Blogger award by not one,
but two fellow bloggers! 

 I felt very honored to be among those they nominated!!

Now it's MY TURN to pass on the love!

Thank you to The Devilish Dish and to Crumbs in my Mustachio for giving me this award!

The rules of this award are:

1. Thank and Link back to the person who gave you the award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Send the award along to 15 other bloggers and let them know you have awarded them!

1.  We have four kids, and lots of people think that we have "separate families" because of the distance between the first two and the last two.

2. My Mom is my very best friend.  We talk at the same times everyday and when we don't my life is totally thrown off-kilter.

3. I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband. (which is weird, because I am only "29!?"

4. I LOVE to not only give gifts, but to WRAP them.  I think that wrapping presents and giving cards is becoming a lost art.

5. Ever since I had twins, almost nice years ago, I HAVE to sleep with a pillow next to me.

6. When I was in 9th grade I was held up by a man at a stop light at gun point. I was with 3 friends, he went to jail for taking $8.01 from us. 

7. I absolutely HATE when my kitchen counters are cluttered and dirty!

Now it's time to tag 15 more bloggers.  It's really hard to choose only 15!!
Here they are in random order"

1. Basilmomma: a busy mom that likes to cook
2. Party Pinching
3. Love. Peace. Happiness. Cooking
4. Newlywed Chefs
5. Food Warms the Cockles of my Heart
6. Bake Your Day
7. Knead to Cook
8. Crap I've Made
9. I'll Get You my Pretties!
10. Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate
11. The Country Cook
12. Newlyweds Blog
13. Tastes Better with Friends
14. Divine Dinner Party
15. The Sisters Cafe

Now, if you haven't seen some of these, make sure to check them out!! For all of you, show the love, and pass it on!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Olive Garden Night at Home! Copy Cat: Zuppa Toscana, Olive Garden Salad & Dressing

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, Salad and Bread sticks

Who doesn't like the all you can eat soup, salad and bread sticks from the Olive Garden??

It's such an easy place for lunch, and it's always good!!

My niece and I used to go there quite a bit, and one time we tried the Zuppa Toscana
soup and it was so yummy!! 

 I had to figure out how to make it!

If you ever want to make something that you have had a restaurant, the site you need to check is copy kat recipes.  Thank God for google, I found it and use it A LOT.

So, that is where this recipe came from,  It's not mine, it's not theirs,
it's the Olive Garden's.

But I am going to share this with you.

And then you need to pass it on... get it?

for other copy kat recipes click HERE

When you make this soup, you will be instantly hungry! From the moment the Italian sausage starts to brown with the red pepper flakes, to sauteing the onion, garlic and bacon, your tummy will begin to growl!

Fall has hit our area, and we are HUGE soup eaters.  This rainy, cold and gloomy Monday just called for this body warming soup! 

With the spiciness of the peppers and sausage to the creaminess of the broth, it's a match made in heaven... or at least the Olive Garden!


Zuppa Toscana


1 lb ground Italian sausage

1½ tsp crushed red peppers

1 large diced white onion

4 Tbsp bacon pieces (I bought the REAL bacon pieces in the salad section, worked great and not as much grease)

2 tsp garlic puree

10 cups water

5 cubes of chicken bouillon

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes (sliced with skins left on)

¼ of a bunch of kale chopped (I used my kitchen shears)

1.Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.

2.In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.

3.Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.

4.Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.

5.Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.

6.Stir in the sausage.

7.Add kale just before serving.

Makes 6-8 Servings  ( I always double it!!)


 Olive Garden Salad Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoon corn syrup

2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, or one clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender until well mixed. If this is a little too tart for your own personal taste, add a little extra sugar. You can enjoy your Olive Garden salad dressing for about 10 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Olive Garden Salad

1 bag Dole American Blend Salad

4-5 slices red onion

4-6 black olives

2-4 pepperoncini (if you like a sweet pepper, you could use a banana pepper)

1/2 cup croutons

1 small tomato, quartered

freshly grated Romano cheese (Parmesan Cheese works well too!)

Chill one salad bowl in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Place bag of salad in bowl. Place on top of the lettuce the red onion, black olives, pepperoncinis, tomatoes, and croutons. Add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like, and add plenty of Olive Garden Salad Dressing on top.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Brazilian Lemonade a.k.a. The Mini Vacation

 Brazilian Lemonade a.k.a. The Mini Vacation

 I just adore my friend Betsy.  I know you have all heard me speak of her before.
Betsy is that friend that is pretty much good at anything. She can sew, she can paint, make jewelry,
cook ... you name it she can do it. 

But one thing I know Betsy does well is VACATION.

Our family's have vacationed together at the lake in the summer, and the past two winters we have gone with our husbands somewhere warm in January.

This past weekend, when we stopped to borrow tables and chairs for our party, she said it was time to start thinking about "where to" for this winter.

That was when she poured us a drink and called it "the mini vacation."

Did you see my glass??

"Yoo Hoo...Cabana Boy!!"

Mini Vacation
Adapted from  Our Best Bites Recipe for Brazilian Lemonade

4 limes, washed thoroughly, with ends cut off, and cut into 1/8s
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
6 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Coconut Rum to taste

Mix water and sugar, pour half of the this into your blender, add half of the limes. (yes the whole thing, skin and all!) Blend completely.

Place a wire strainer (got to have small holes here!) over your pitcher that you will be serving the drinks in. Pour the mixture over strainer and catch all of the pulp.
Discard the pulp. 
Repeat with other half of the limes and sugar water.

To the lime and sugar water mix, add the sweetened condensed milk and stir.

Add rum to your glass of ice, pour drink mixture over and stir.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of those Corona beer commercials
on a beach...someplace beautiful.


Repeat as necessary.
betsy, me and rhonda (a.k.a. wanda) in Cancun 2010

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Rememberance of a GREAT GAL - Decedent Flourless Chocolate Cake

flourless chocolate cake

On October 13, 2005, our family lost one of it's members to cancer.

Karen was a phenomenal woman, wife and Mother to three very special kids.  She battled oral cancer, and heaven received a true angel at the very young age of 41.

The month of October is full of pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, it would be hard not to associate Karen to the word cancer; but her cancer did not define her.   Alas, when you lose someone close to this horrible disease, that word just sticks in your mind.

Not that I need "a word" to remind me of Karen.  I think about her every day.
Her kids have so many characteristics of her. Their eyes, their sense of humors, even the way they walk and just carry themselves.  Even her daughter's voice. Sometimes I have to do a double take.

I know her kids know what a terrific person she was, but it breaks my heart that they don't have her here with them.

So,  in honor of my sister-in-law, Karen, I baked a flourless chocolate cake.  Because if there was anything Karen loved, aside from her family, it was CHOCOLATE CAKE.

So, it didn't seem appropriate to make just any 'ol chocolate cake.  This required something decedent.

And this cake is just that. 

Karen and I always fought over the Special Dark candy bars in the Hershey's Miniature bag. 

This bittersweet chocolate cake would have put a smile on her face.

And that is the way I remember Karen.  A glass of wine in one hand,  a bite of chocolate cake on the fork in her other, and her completely from-her-belly infectious laugh.

We all miss you Karen, more than you could ever know.

So, here's looking at you kid!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 ounces of Ghirardeli Bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch round cake pan, and dust with cocoa powder.

In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.

(I melted my butter and chocolate in the microwave)

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack or plate and cool completely. I recommend serving this cake warm.

I topped it with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and served it with vanilla ice cream and my triple berry preserves.

Karen and I having fun.... back in the day.