Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Mousse

My husband was in search of ice cream the other night.  We didn’t have any, but a frozen type dessert did sound yummy!  I didn’t have nearly enough cream to actually make ice cream for the family, and I am partial to cake myself.  I also really like mousse.  Thus, this dessert was born.  My oldest daughter called it a Whoopie Pie Cake, which it does closely resemble, although the filling is not as dense.

The chocolate cake recipe is from Hershey and they called it “Old Fashion Chocolate Cake”, I cut down the measurements to only make one 9″ round cake and am sharing those measurements with you.

This cake makes about 8-12 servings.

Pre-heat your oven  to 350’F and grease, flour and line one 9-inch round pan.  To cut out the lining, use wax or parchment paper.  I place my pan on top of the paper on a cutting board and trace it with a shape knife.  The paper then perforates and the circle easily punches out.


3/4 Stick Butter, softened (6 TBSP)

1/2+ 1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2+ 1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking powder

3/4 Cup+ 1 TBSP water

Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixer bowl and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Mix alternately with the water to the butter mixture.  Mix at low speed until just blended.  Scrape the bottom to ensure complete mixing and pour into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick (or dry spaghetti noodle) comes out clean.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a plate.  Allow to cool for at least an hour before cutting in half and filling.


Vanilla Mousse: (Credit to The Royal Cook)

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool slightly. In a medium bowl mix together sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Beat with beaters on medium speed until mixture is just stiff. (Make sure you don’t go too far or you will end up with butter!) Add gelatin mixture and beat until well blended.

Once the cake has cooled, use a large serrated knife (or a cake cutter if you happen to have one) and slice the cake horizontally in half.  Spread the mousse gently over the top of the bottom half of cake.  Top with the other half of the cake (MAKE SURE TO REMOVE THE PAPER!!!!), place in the freezer for at least an hour.  Serve topped with fudge sauce.


January 24, 2017 (Welcome baby girls!)

Our group was a little small this week as one expectant Mama had her baby on Thursday and the other was actively in labor on Tuesday!  So we are very happy two healthy baby girls into our family!!!  The family is very excited to hear all sorts of new baby squawks and new Mama stories soon!

For dinner, Dad made what I think is one of his favorite meals, Chianti Braised Beef over White Rice.  He served this with Sauteed Cauliflower and Leeks and Buttermilk Honey Bread.  For dessert Mom threw together (although you wouldn’t know it) a Skillet Apple Cake.


So, little miss here got to ride Thunder Pony today.

How did that go?

Super cute, she wasn’t sure about him at first, but then loved it.  I think he is going to come live with us, once it dries up a bit.

Too cute!

Hi Grandma!

Hi!  How did your lesson go?


Do you have clay?


I have to make a clay pot for my school diorama.

Oh OK, let me go find it. You can work on it after dinner.

Whats’ for dinner?

Braised beef.  (insert adolescent nose crinkle) But I made just some plain beef for you.

Thank you!

But you have to try a piece if you think you’re going to spend the night.

You’re mean! You said I could spend the night already!

New rule, you have to try one bite of whatever everyone else is eating to spend the night.


You bet.

You don’t want the braised beef?  Isn’t that piece dry?

It shouldn’t be dry it is just pan fried instead of braised.

She wont eat any meat with sauce or gravy on it.


That’s weird.

I was so happy when her sister gobbled up stew the first time, I was like “AH! Here is my favorite child!” (Winking at big sister)

Is your husband coming?

He should be on his way.

Here, turn his plate and cup over!


Turn his fork and spoon over too!

Can you say prayers please?

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day.  Amen

And watch over our new Moms, and safe deliveries to the new baby.


We still haven’t heard the name yet?

Nope, not yet.

They are holding out to the bitter end huh?  Guess we will have to wait!

Rice please? Rice PLEASE!

Ok, do you want some meat too?


Your sister is eating meat.

No meat.


Your cup is right there.


So Lee was a hero last night.

Really? What happened.

So we were at my parents store last night for my Aunt’s birthday, and as we were getting ready to leave this old fella pulls in right behind me and starts waving and flashing his lights.  And I was thinking what the heck? So, I got out of the truck and went over to his car, and he was having a heck of a time getting the windows open, and he finally got them.  He asks me, “Can you PLEASE, tell me how to get back to town.” I said  “Yes, it’s about five miles that way.” He starts tearing up and says “Oh good, I have been driving around for almost four hours, I’m just trying to find my way home.  I just want to go home.”  Well, I ran in real quick to see if my Dad was still there so I could just drive the guy home, but he had already left, so I asked the guy if he could just follow me out.  He was so relived, but I had to go that way anyway, and I asked him where he lived, which is just down the road from here a bit.  So he is following me, and we are going 35 miles an hour down the road (which is a road people usually travel at least 60 MPH on) and I get him to his road.  I wasn’t sure exactly which house was his, so I pulled over and put the 4-ways on and go talk to him.  He told me which house was his, and I asked him if he needed help getting the car put away.  He said no, and gave me $10 and said I was good to go.  Well, I decided to wait until he was in the house, because I had called Emily while I was driving out with him, and she said to make sure he got in the house, because we didn’t know if maybe he was remembering a house he used to live in or exactly what was happening.  Then he backs his car up, turns to go in the driveway and misses it completely, puts the car right in the ditch.  I go over, and he says “I am having a bad day.”  I asked him if he wanted me to call a tow truck and he said “No, I’ll do it at the house”, Well, he walks with a cane and there was no way I was going to be able to get him out of the car and into the house easily, so I called the tow truck for him, and they were about 30 minutes away, OK, no problem.  So then this truck pulls out, and a man jumps out and yells “Is that my Dad?!?”, I said “I don’t know is it?” And it was, then the police officer showed up and told me I had just found a missing person.  Apparently his son had called him in missing several hours before, because he was also diabetic.  I had some pizza in the car Mom gave me from the store, so I gave him some of that.  I was chatting with his son a little bit and gave the money back to him, I just wanted to see the poor guy get home.  The officer wanted him to get out of the car when the tow truck came, but we all decided since he wasn’t able to walk well, it would be better to just leave him in the car until it was out.  So everything, got all taken care of and I left.

He was one lucky guy to find you.

That’s amazing, poor guy he was having a bad day.

I felt so bad, I just wanted to see him get home.

Talk about a God thing, us just happening to be there last night, him just happening to catch Lee, who is about the worlds best direction person and happened to be going the same way, it was lucky that you couldn’t drive him because he might have gone in the house and had a diabetic crisis and his family wouldn’t have known he was home.  All very lucky.

Good job.

I can always tell when I made a sweeter bread, you eat more of it.

Do I? (Looking at the last piece in the bread basket and snatching it up)

Hi!  I’ll cut you some more bread, I took your piece.

Those don’t look like work clothes.

I strive to not be in the work clothes.

I’m not sure there is any left!

Oh, there is plenty.  Does any one want seconds?

I think we’ve already done seconds or thirds!

Is Aunt Royleen coming?

She should be.

I’ll leave some for her then.

I’ll go cut some more bread.

There is another loaf if you need it.

Gonna start putting floor in the room tomorrow.

How are you going to do that?

Start at one wall and go all the way across.

Those 90′ angles not quite 90′ huh?

Not even close.

I’m glad they got the 90′ figured out at our house but the ceiling aren’t quite there.

Oh the ceilings here are all over the place too.

How are the worms?

They are good.  I threw out a bunch of the compost stuff and started over, it was a little too far gone.

Any baby worms yet?

Not yet, there is some fuzzy looking stuff and I am not sure if it is worm eggs or mold.  The mold can be normal obviously because its compost.  I guess I will just have to watch.

So when you get a bunch of baby worms do you start moving the bigger ones outside or how does that work?

The actually don’t recommend moving these worms outside because they aren’t very hearty and will freeze.  I guess they just kind of maintain a status quo, as more hatch the bigger ones die at a higher rate becoming compost too.

Huh, that’s interesting.  They just adapt to the food supply I guess.

Kind of.  It’s a little sad, oh look you had babies, now you are going to die, but its how it works I guess.

I’ve got those, don’t worry (clearing plates)

I like her sitting on this side.

Look at that one though running off.

Well technically she is in the middle, not on the cleaning side.

At least she cleared hers…




Who wants cake?

This is really good!

What is it?

Apple Skillet Cake, I guess, its new.

It’s really good.

I don’t know if I could repeat it.

Some ice cream would be perfect with it.

I was going to have you stop and get some, but figured you’d rather eat dinner.

Did you bring the leather?

No, I’ll run home and bring it back.

You can bring it next week.

I won’t remember next week either. Be right back.

Are you going to use the wood burner on it?




January 17,2017


We had a new visitor at the table tonight, bringing our headcount to 10 adults, 2 tweens and 2 toddlers (yes, the baby has graduated to walking).

For the meal we had Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup,  Roasted Chickens, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Butternut squash (I am seeing a trend…), Green Beans, and White Bread.  For dessert, in honor of my “sister” in California we had Flan, her favorite dessert!

The evening went a little something like this, but I’ll be honest, it got a bit more wild than I plan on sharing, I’d like to keep this family friendly!


Hi! Come on in, on Tuesdays, you don’t have to knock.

Oh, I see.  I don’t know all the rules yet.

Just a word of caution, anything you say could end up on the internet!

It could?

Yes, she writes a blog about dinner.

I’m pretty sure your wife follows it.

Hey guys!

Are you ready to finally have school this week?

I’m not sure.  I got a  new dog!

You did? That’s great! What kind of dog?

It’s a yellow lab I think.  8 years old.

Your buddy’s here! Go say hi!

(Little girly giggles)

Where’s your husband?

Oh, he is at home, we had a trip to the E.R.

What happened?

He cut his finger on the saw.

Doesn’t he know you don’t count the teeth while it’s spinning?

…No he just tried to stop it…


Is he ok, though?

Yes, just took the pad of his finger off, so he is home recovering.

Well let’s sit down and we can start eating soup.

Wait! Pictures!

Where do I sit?

Anywhere you want, I recommend not by the high chairs unless you are brave.  He’s already put his coat there, so he is stuck.

Awe man!

I think we are a chair short.

He can sit with the kids when he gets here.

There should be enough, there were enough places earlier.  See there are enough plates….

Ah, there is the chair.


Go ahead.

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day.  Amen

I don’t need that much soup, I am not a soup eater, just enough to dunk my bread in!

Are you still working?

A little bit, kind of day by day at this point.

Does the nature center have a waiting room?

It’s all of outside.

No, they have a little area, by the bees. Right?

Kind of….

How work going?


Where are you at now?

I am a pre-apprentice steel worker, training to be a tin knocker.

Oh, that’s good.

Yeah, I like it.

Know anyone looking for a job? The chemical company is looking for a driver.

They probably need their X endorsement for that right?


Is there more bread?

Yeah, there is some on the counter you just have to cut it.


Do you want to eat some chicken?




You aren’t going to eat?


Ok, did you kids get potatoes?

YES!!! (in surround sound)

I over ordered garden seeds.

Really?! What do you have?

We are getting our seed list together so we can place one big order.

I should have brought my seed list.

She loves this squash.

I couldn’t believe how sweet it is, I tasted it when it was raw and it was sweet, you could put it on a salad.

Where did you get it?

It’s one you brought I think.

One of my lone squashes from the garden?

We haven’t bought any other ones so it has to be.

What kind of butternut is it?

Whatever kind Meijer had seeds for… I have no idea.

I barely used any sugar, just enough to caramelize the bottom, less than half a teaspoon for the whole thing.

It’s my fantastic gardening skills (insert sarcasm).  I only managed to grow like 3 squash out of 10 plants, they kept dying on me.

Are you sure you dont want to eat?

Nooo.  Color.

How about we put you in your seat so Grandma can eat.



The city posted that it is looking for ideas of what people want to see downtown.

They were going to change Ashman to a two-way.

Oh boy, that will kill people.

They are trying to make things “more accessible”.

Well, the needed to start back when they made “The Circle”, and everything one-way.

Some good small restaurants that you can afford would be nice.

Just some events that were a destination to come to would be cool.  We have the Tridge, they could do so many fun festivals themed around that.

Most of what they do though are beer tents… without readily available bathrooms, no one wants that!

Have some more chicken, there is plenty!

Are you done with your plate?

So you make soap?

Yes, I sure do.

How do you do that?

I use a couple different oils and the milk from our cow, and mix it with lye.

With lye? Is that safe to use? Is it laundry soap?

No, its for your skin.  You have to lye to make soap.

But doesn’t it burn?

If it’s raw it sure does.  But it has a chemical reaction called “saponifcation”, where it eats up the fats and becomes soap.

So it’s kind of like being a scientist.

Kind of, a lot of chemistry.

Did you like chemistry in high school?

Actually, I kinda did.

What is dessert? Creme brulee?

No, it is Flan. Our Puerto Rican daughters favorite.

Do you remember her? She Skype’d with us at Christmas?


This is really, really good.

Just make sure there is enough left for Aunt Royleen when she gets here.

Chris! You’re here! You’re late.

I think we have a critter living in our house.  The air vent was normal and then a little while later it was popped up.  I don’t think they do that on their own.

I bet  it was your worms.  How are they?

Getting big! And they are slimy now.

Are you going to get them the worm house with the ramps?

I still want to!

Because “worm are meant to climb up”.


(And this is where things go south, and hot pink jeeps, borrowing yoga pants, bellyrings, on men…)

You aren’t going to put that on Tuesday Table, are you?

No, I want to keep it G-rated and family friendly!!  I might have to think about publishing an adult, uncensored version, though, yeesh!



Hot Fudge Cake

Just thought I would re-post this today as it seems to be quite popular today (especially with our friends across the pond!). Hope you enjoy!

The Tuesday Table

This is a family go-to recipe, especially in the fall and winter.  It is rich and chocolatey and will warm you up in no time.  Recently featured at one of our Tuesday Dinners, I thought I would share the recipe with you!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour (or cake flour for a lighter cake)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 salt

1 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder

2 TBSP butter

1/2 cup milk


1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup boiling water


I use a separate container to mix the dry ingredients for the cake in.  I find it is easier to shake them all together in a Tupperware than try to mix them in the baking pan.  You will need a 9-inch square pan or an equivalent.

For the cake, mix…

View original post 193 more words

Pretzel Buns

I was making burgers for dinner last night, and just wasn’t feeling the whole regular burger bun thing.  I wanted something a little more fun, so I took to the internet and stumbled upon this gem of a recipe.

This recipe, despite having an extra step for boiling the dough (they are pretzels after all), was SUPER easy.  Start to finish I was eating pretzel buns in less than an hour.  And now I need to find a good cheese sauce recipe because these were so good and definitely would make great soft pretzels too.

The recipe does not call for any salt in the dough, which I was skeptical about and almost added some.  I am glad I didn’t, they were perfectly salty with the Kosher Salt sprinkled on the top.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

(To find the original recipe please follow this link, for Breztel Rolls, by NcMysteryShopper)



13cups warm water

2tablespoons warm milk

12teaspoons active dry yeast

13cup light brown sugar

2tablespoons butter, melted

4cups all-purpose flour

kosher salt or pretzel salt

Parboiling Liquid

2quarts cold water

baking soda (1/2 cup)



  1. In a small bowl if using a bread machine, or in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix a 1/3 cup of the warm water (105-115 degrees) with the yeast and let stand until foamy.
  2. Add the remaining cup of warm water along with milk, sugar & melted butter and swirl to dissolve the sugar. (If using a bread machine add mixture to bread machine at this point and continue).
  3. Add flour and mix on dough cycle or med-low speed.
  4. Remove dough from bread machine once it forms a nice a firm, pliable dough ball.
  5. Add more flour if necessary.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured table and knead for 2 minutes.
  7. Roll into a 2 foot long log and cut into 12 even pieces.
  8. Cover dough with plastic and a damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes.
  9. Pat dough into rolls or form knots and arrange on a lightly floured surface about an inch apart and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap.
  10. Let the pretzels rest for an additional 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400°. ***
  12. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
  13. In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add baking soda.
  14. Drop two rolls into the boiling water and boil for no more then 30 seconds, turning once.
  15. Carefully remove with tongs or slotted spoon and hold above pot and let drain.
  16. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  17. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
  18. Arrange rolls on the oiled baking sheets and bake on the upper and middle racks of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until browned all over; shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through, for even baking.
  19. Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.
  20. Serve warm or at room temperature.


*** The only intentional change I made to the recipe wat that I reduced the baking temperature to 400′ after reading some reviews that suggested the bottoms of the buns might burn easily.


And as usual you can see I had a tiny helper in the kitchen with me, she loves to make bread.  IF your dough looks like her itty bitty dough ball, you added way to much flour in your kneading and rednered something inedible.  To avoid over flouring, I suggest rubbing flour on your hands as needed.  A little goes a long way!

Happy Birthday, to me!

We are finally getting back on track with our Tuesday Dinners.  The days around Christmas and New Years were a little rough on us with a flu virus that has been rampaging the area.

We did celebrate Christmas as a family on New Years Day, with a potluck style meal and a gift exchange.  It was really a wonderful time, and we got to see our “sister” in California and her boyfriend via Skype.

And sure enough, two weeks after Christmas, my birthday rolls around.  I have to say I am pretty set in my ways when it comes to birthday dinners.  I have varied very little in the last oh… 15-20 years or so… (Hard to believe I have been choosing the same meal since I was like two right?)  My meal consists of Beef Stroganoff, Blueberry Muffins, and a vegetable I like, which was corn this year (often times its asparagus, but that wasn’t looking so great at the store).  My dessert for the majority of these years is a Chiffon Cake with either strawberries or raspberries, depending on which looks best it the store that year.  Now, this is not just any chiffon cake, it is lightly flavored with cinnamon and is hollowed out in the center, then filled with whipping cream and chopped up berries.  Then it is frosted with more whipping cream and decorated with more berries.  It is so light and fresh, and qualifies as breakfast the next morning because it is dairy and fruit!


Our group was a little small, and I expect it will be even smaller for a couple of weeks as our expecting mothers are nearing their due date, my sister was able to make it to this dinner.  So we had my 3 kiddos, and 9 adults.

I am very disappointed in you.

Why you wanted me to show up to the church while I was sick? (My youngest daughter was baptized over the weekend)

Nooo (pointed look at her belly)


You’re STILL pregnant!

Your sister wanted her niece to be born on her birthday.

Of course, I already share it with quite a few relatives.

Oh, sorry to disappoint you.

I think she is disappointed too.  Isn’t your husband coming?

Yes, he is changing the oil in his truck, it wasn’t going very well when I left, apparently, the filter got put on too tight by whom every changed it last time.

That’s not good, those are hard to get off, hope he doesn’t break anything.

Me too, I guess we will find out.

Well hi! I didn’t know you were coming.

I brought recipes.

The scone recipes, I’ve been hearing so much about?

Yep, blueberry, and chocolate.



Hey!  I brought your soaps back.  Did you like the article?

I did!  The picture was amazing!  Didn’t I respond?


Well, I responded in my head and I really liked it!

Good!  Shoot, I forgot my camera!  I don’t even have my phone!  I’ll be right back.

Come on and sit down.

Oh, I’m not eating, I just came to visit for a little while.

That’s ok you can still sit.

Go ahead,

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day.  Amen



This was a gift to my parents for Christmas

We’ve got that prayer right here now.

Good, then you can say it.

We like to hear you.

Are those blueberry muffins?

Noodle! Noooooodle!

Just a second the noodles are coming, how about some meat?


Do you want a muffin?

NO! Noodle.

These muffins are great! I need to take them home for breakfast.

They can’t be worse than donuts.

True they aren’t fried at least.

Fried muffins sound amazing.

Yes, they do.

When are you planning on having the next edition of your magazine come out?

Hopefully next month, I have been working on its website and having some technical issues, but hopefully, that is taken care of.

You don’t usually put lemon in your blueberry muffins. (Weird looks all across the table at me).

Dang it!  I swear my taste buds still haven’t recovered.  Everything tastes sour or smells spoiled to me.

More meat- meat?

Ok, here is some more.

So this is your birthday dinner huh?

Yep, has been for years.  Nothing like a good sour cream based sauce, like any good Russian dish.

Is Beef Stroganoff Russian?


It’s kind in the Stroganoff…

I don’t know that Russian dishes usually have sour cream in them, though.

I guess I really haven’t had much to judge, the couple of recipes I know have it.

It’s usually hearty food, isn’t it?

It would make sense, it’s cold there.

I was thinking Borscht soup.

That’s made with beets.

But I think it’s usually topped with sour cream.

Hey! He is still alive, on his way here.  Must have gotten the oil changed.

So, I got my worms.

You haven’t heard about the worm farm she is getting have you?

No, but that’s good.  I was about to say the tapeworm diet is a terrible idea.

Ha ha! Nope, just regular garden worms.

She was getting a little lonely, has them all named.

Just trying to start some composting.

Did you show her the worm farm with little ramps for the worms to climb up?

That would be great!

Environmental enrichment for the worms.

They should be starting to multiply soon. We will have thousands of worms

So how many worms do you have exactly?


That’s like a Fear Factor episode.

Can I take some of those muffins home?


Just in time for cake.

Don’t worry, I ate your muffin for you.

There are muffins right here?

Those are mine to go home, I ate yours.

Haha. Ok.

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Emily (mmphf), Happy Birthday to you!

Wow, there are a lot of cameras pointed at me right now!  No, don’t touch the candle! Hot!

Here you go. (Hands out the candles to the ‘kids’)

Hey! That’s mine!

No, don’t eat the candle!

Wow, she took a bite out of that.

Sure did.

Piece, please? Piece, please?

Can she have a little piece?


I think baby, would like some too….

She really knows what cake is doesn’t she?

Oh yes.

She gets that from my side of the family, my Grandma had a huge sweet tooth.  We all do.

They do.

I like this kind of frosting.

Whipped cream?

Yeah, I mean I like a good buttercream, but they are so hard to find.

I think most frostings taste like shortening anymore.  I usually scrape it off and try the cake.

You know, I still don’t like cake, I just like YOUR cake.

Well, Mom’s cakes are different. I really don’t like other cakes either.  I haven’t had very many good cakes.

Most just aren’t made like this.

Linda from the dump’s cakes are really good, though.


She made cakes for my sister-in-laws weddings.  I thought the same thing the first time I heard her referred to as Linda from the dump, but her cakes were actually really good.  Real cake and frosting.  I don’t think she makes them anymore.

I wasn’t sure you were serious.

It’s kind of like saying Grover, or Oscar the grouch makes a good cake.

I know!

I brought the documents for you to read.

Oh, awesome! So when do we get to go visit your new property in Scotland?

HA! I don’t know.

You can take it home to read.

I can read it now.


At some point here, people were leaving, I didn’t realize we were WAY past bed time and my children started destroying the house.  Time to call it a night.


By the way, check out my AMAZING new logo!


Thank you, Nikki Wyrembelski! (She can make you a logo too!)

Wild Things

img_5146It’s hard to  from this innocent looking pose, but this gentleman and his roomie evicted the geese from their home after plowing through a gate while I was giving them fresh hay. 

A rodeo soon followed, me waving my coat and hollering (mind you it’s 21′) out, trying to steer them away from the birds and back into their pen. After about 20 minutes of this procedure the birds relocated themselves and I gave up. I had other chores to finish, kids in the house and there really isn’t much they can get into mischief with. Plus they were starting to slide on the ice and that’s not a good situation.   All the other critters were wound up as well, they must be enjoying the warmer temps today.

Pork Tenderloin- Real life cooking

My local grocery store had pork tenderloins on sale buy one get one free!  I do not typically buy the tenderloin because the are quite a bit more expensive than the regular loin, but in this case I was able to snag two packages for about $11.  That is an affordable dinner two different nights!  I put one package in the freezer and made the other into this meal!

I’ve realized that cooking scares a lot of people.  They think something like a pork tenderloin is an intimidating piece of meat to cook, and fair enough they are pricey.  But the truth is, I am not cooking in any special kitchen, I don’t have any really fancy tools, I have to improvise and I often have helpers… who are trying to learn to walk while I am leaning over hot pans…



Some people certainly have a gift for cooking, my parents are that way.  But, I feel a lot of that gift is commitment to the cause.  That cause is making healthy and delicious food for your family.  It is about knowing where your meal came from and adjusting it to your taste. I have been super excited to see some of my friend in the kitchen more since I started this venture, experimenting and enjoying!  I hope you are able to enjoy this meal too!

Apple Pork Tenderloin, Spinach dip with bread, Quick Apple Sauce and Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips ( I have been trying to hide extra veggies in our meals lately).


When I post these menus I do my best to put the in the order they need to be cooked to all come to the table about the same time.  I hate wasting time waiting for one thing to finish before I start the next.

You will notice in my Spinach Dip recipe, that I started in one pan and finished in a cast iron pan, this was not intentional, it was purely distraction by my little girls.  I love cast iron and really this recipe is ideal for a pan that can go from stove top to oven without dirtying an extra dish

Spinach Dip with Bread:

Start by preparing Sixty Minute Rolls, or the bread of your choice (adjust your start time to how long the recipes first rise is)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 Slices bacon cut into small pieces (optional)

1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts (I used jarred or canned and rinse them) (optional)

1 block cream cheese

2 TBSP Miracle whip (or other salad dressing)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (divided)

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

Whole milk/heavy cream


In a large pan that can go from stove top to oven, crisp the bacon over medium-high heat.  When bacon has started to crisp slightly add the onions to soften, stirring frequently.  Once the onions are tender, add just a small amount of water (about 2-4 TBSP ) to deglaze the pan, and give the spinach a starting point.  Add your spinach and stir occasionally until it begins to wilt.  Add salt and pepper( about 1/2 tsp each, stir some more.   Once the spinach is wilted push it to the sides to allow some of the water to evaporate.  Add the red pepper flakes, cream cheese, miracle whip, half the mozzarella and the parmesan.  Stir until the cheeses have melted.  Add enough milk and/or cream to make the dip a little soupy (like a thick gravy but thinner than pudding, this is going to bake and you don’t want it to be too firm).

Divide the bread dough into small balls and place around the edges of the dip. Top with the remaining cheese.  Allow to rise slightly and bake at 375’F until the bread is done.

Next, start your Apple Pork Tenderloin:

2 pork tenderloins (the ones from my grocery stores are pre-packaged 2 to a pack)

1/2 cup apple juice or cider

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove minced garlic

1 onion rough chopped

1 apple rough chopped (optional)

If possible use a roasting pan that can go from stove top to oven.  If this is a possibility, heat the pan with a small amount of olive oil, season the meat with salt and pepper and brown on both sides, just enough to give it a little color.  If you do not have a roasting pan you can do this in, skip this step, it will still taste good!

In the roasting pan, add the apple juice, garlic, onion, and apple.  Cover tightly and place in the 375’F oven.  Cooking time will vary based on weight, but make sure you check on them after about 20-30 minutes.  Pork is safe to eat when it reaches 145′ F internal temperature and allowed to rest for 3 minutes after removing from the oven.  You want to let it rest for a few minutes anyway, otherwise, it will dry out when you cut it.

Now that the oven is busy, it’s time to move to the stove top.

Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips

Parsnips add a little texture and a mild, almost spicy flavor the mashed potatoes, I don’t recommend swapping buttermilk for regular milk in this recipe.

1 large russet potato per person (I used 3)

2 parsnips, peeled

1 TBSP salt



Chop potatoes and parsnips to roughly the same size, add to a medium (or large) pot and cover with cold water.  Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil until fork tender.  Drain off the water.  Add about 1/2 cup milk and mash (I prefer to use my hand mixer for a fluffier potato)  Add more milk in small increments until desired texture is reached.  Top with butter when serving.

Once you have your potatoes started, Quick Applesauce is a snap.

Peel and core 1 apple per person and quarter.  Place into a pot with just enough water (or apple juice) to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add 1 tsp brown sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon per 2 apples. Cover and allow to simmer until very soft, stirring occasionally.  If needed add more liquid.  Once the apples are tender, mash with a fork and serve!

Grey winters

img_5001People oftentimes refer to our winters as being grey. In fact a coworker of mine once often coined the phrase “Great Grey February Monster,” as a cause for the lethargy that settles in.

While we certainly have beautiful moments here in Michigan, like I have pictured before, more often than not it is grey and gloomy.

At least the sun is trying this blustery afternoon! (This picture was taken at 3 PM)