Homemade Ketchup and French Fries

IMG_2388I was driving home the other day thinking about, and craving french fries and ketchup. It made me start wondering if I can really even be considered a foodie, because I still do like to eat regular food, such as …well… french fries and ketchup.

Would a foodie be driving down the road craving french fries?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
I mean, what exactly is a foodie?

Well, according to Wikipedia:

“A foodie is a gourmet, or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. While gourmet and epicurean can be used as synonyms they have fallen out of favor and bring to mind a stodgy or snobbish attitude.”

My interest in food is definitely ardent, or passionate, if you will…and sometimes it’s refined..although I truly cannot be called an epicurean. I admit that my knowledge of food is limited, but I’m continually learning, and growing in that knowledge.

Like most foodies, I enjoy trying new things…I’m one of those people who will “ooh and ahh” over a one inch cube of tuna tartare sitting in the middle of a fine china dinner plate… topped with a truffle paste, and a single pea, all drizzled in 1000 year old tahitian olive oil. I’ll enjoy that three second bite of it, and then rave about it for hours on end.

But then…

There are days like the other day, that I just want a pile of french fries with a dollop of ketchup on a plate in front of me, while I sit back for the rest of the night with the button on my jeans undone, watching an episode of Seinfeld that I’ve seen 100 times before.


So, in the end, can I really be called a foodie? You know what? It doesn’t matter. I get excited for something extraordinarily crazy and new….and I get excited for something comforting and familiar.

Call me what you want.
Foodie or not….I just love food.

Like ketchup. And french fries.


And of course, I prefer homemade. I prefer homemade everything…

There is such a freshness to it.
You know… it tastes real.

And there’s something about making everything from scratch…it’s satisfying. It’s fulfilling. It’s a little wiggle of the hips to the music in your head.. gratifying.


Life is good, it’s a “call me what you want, but just don’t call me late for dinner…” kind of good…

Sweet and Spicy Ketchup

This ketchup is a touch spicy, yet a touch sweet. It’s nice and thick, so it sticks to your fries, or your hot dog, burger, or whatever you love to eat ketchup on! It’s easy to make, but it’s always better the next day, so plan for keeping it in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Of course you can serve it immediately…but like most foods, it just tastes better when all of the flavors have time to get to know each other. It will keep up to four weeks in the fridge.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp jalapeño pepper, minced
12 oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1/3 cup water

Feeling a little frisky? Add a teaspoon or more of anchovy paste to the mix when adding the tomato paste and other ingredients to the sautéed onions!

In a medium saucepan, saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeño in the olive oil until translucent and tender. Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, ground mustard, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cayenne pepper, cider vinegar, worchestershire sauce, and water. Simmer on low for about 1/2 hour. If it seems to be thickening too quickly, add about 1/4 cup more water.

Let cool completely. Pour the ketchup mixture into a food processor, and blend until smooth.
Transfer to a container with a lid, and refrigerate overnight. Keep refrigerated up to four weeks.

The French Fries

These are basically made the same way as my potato chips…except cut into fries, rather than slices.

4 large russet potatoes
1 cup vinegar
5 cups water
3 cups canola oil
sea salt to taste

Wash and dry the potatoes. Slice into 1/4” thick fries. Try to keep them as uniform in thickness as possible, so that they cook in the same amount of time.

Bring the vinegar and water to boil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven. Add one half of the potatoes and boil for exactly four minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let them dry completely, flipping them so that they dry on all sides. Let cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the potatoes.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat the canola oil in a large saucepan (You want the oil to be at least 2” deep, so add more oil if you think you need it). I deep fry them when the oil reaches 350 degrees.

When the oil is ready, add a few potatoes at a time to the pan. Don’t overcrowd them. Deep fry for 3 minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer to a baking sheet with a cooling rack placed on top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, and let cool completely on the cooling rack, which by the time you’ve finished the last of the potatoes, the first batch will have already cooled.

At this point the fries will still be white and soft.
Now to bring a little color and crispiness to the fries….This is where you really need to stand over the pan and watch the french fries cook…Add 1/2 of the cooled potatoes back to the oil, and let them fry until they’re golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil with the wire skimmer, and drain them on the baking sheet with the cooling rack.  Keep in warm oven until the remainder of the french fries are cooked.

Serve immediately!

My Request…

There is no recipe tonight…. just a simple request.

I cannot tell you how much all of the love and support that you gave to Mike and me…after I told you about his illness… meant to me. While I’m not surprised, because over these last few months, I’ve come to know that there are so many, many good people in this world…I am deeply touched by the kindness that you showed to the both of us.

I know that many of you are moms too, so I know you feel what I feel. I would give my son anything that would make him happy (within reason…I’m not buying him that $30K truck that he wants!).

Like I told you, we are blessed. Michael has the disease, but it’s manageable. He can live a long life.

Last night, I was watching the news…and there was a short segment about a little boy in Foxboro, Massachusetts who has inoperable brain cancer. My heart went out to his parents and his family.


Little Danny Nickerson has one simple request. This coming Friday, July 25th, he will turn 6 years old. His request? To receive birthday cards.

That’s all he wants.
Birthday cards.
And that’s what his mom is doing for him.
Requesting birthday cards for her little boy, because he gets lonely.

I thought…How easy is that? I can send him a birthday card. But then I thought… what if I posted this…and maybe helped to get him a few more cards?

So my request is simple.. I wish that you might consider this beautiful little boy, and help to make his wish come true by sending him a birthday card.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make it there by Friday…I’m sure he would be delighted if he continued to receive them for the next few weeks!

Here is the address:
Danny Nickerson
P.O. Box 212
Foxboro, MA 02035

Life is good…. but….Sometimes life is hard…but with the love and support from others…it might make it a little more manageable.

Thank you so much for your kindness…and your consideration.

My prayers and love go out to Danny and his family.

And my prayers and love go out to you.

You can find the request on WGRZ Channel 2′s Facebook Page (Buffalo, NY).

Writing Process Blog Tour, Part II: Suzanne’s Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

I’m finally home from vacation! It was a nice relaxing time, but I was pretty homesick the last couple of days, so it’s nice to be back, and into my regular routine. I’ll get caught up with all of your lovely comments in the upcoming week!

This is the very last post for my Writing Process Blog Tour, Part II…. I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the tour a little over a month ago, and had the honor of introducing you to some outstanding bloggers, including Suzanne, from A Pug in the Kitchen.


I went ahead and opened my big mouth during the first day of the tour…and said “Oh yeah, I’ll give Suzanne’s Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache a try!” It’s not enough that her recipe is a winner in a Food52 contest…Nope… I said that I was going to make it, and then post it for all the world to see.

Yep. Me.
The non-baker.
The un-bakeable-ist.


So…when I put all of the ingredients in front of me, I’m not kidding when I say that I think I broke out in a little sweat. Panic set in. I stood there looking at everything… reading the recipe over and over again, and then looking at everything again.

I really wanted to make Suzanne proud.
Because, well…it’s Suzanne, you know?
She is one of the most highly respected bloggers in our blogging community.
We love her.


Honestly, there was nothing to worry about…she made the instructions so clear, that this absolutely beautiful and delightful ganache is a breeze to make!

And seriously…this stuff is good. I mean really, really good… and when you make this ganache, be prepared for burned fingers and tongues. Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen the second you add the butter to the amber colored liquid sugar. You’re going to start dipping your finger in, knowing full well that burns and discomfort will happen… but you’re not going to care. That delicious caramel with the chocolate is completely and utterly burn worthy.

I mean…look at it…how could you not take that chance??



And while it was whipping in my mixer, I was so impressed at how quickly it all came together, to produce such a perfectly fluffy and delicious ganache. This is definitely a recipe that quickly became one of my favorites, one that will be my go-to whenever I need a chocolate frosting.


I’m so pleased to share this with you today, and I hope that you’ll stop by Suzanne’s blog to visit her, and to see what she has cooking up her sleeve. I can guarantee that it will be amazing!

Life is good…it’s a “Finding a new favorite chocolate frosting, and totally knowing that you can rock that frosting out of the house!” kind of good…


Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache
Copied from Suzanne’s blog: A Pug in the Kitchen

Makes enough frosting to fill and frost a 9-inch cake

Chocolate Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cut into tablepoon-size pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces dark chocolate (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the heavy cream in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 45 seconds, add chocolate and microwave another 30 seconds Stir until its smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine, set aside so that it will cool before adding to the caramel.

In large saucepan add the sugar, turn heat to med/high and let sit until it starts to liquefy. Start stirring with a heat proof spatula. The sugar will crystalize but that’s alright — keep stirring until its all liquid. Stop stirring and let it cook until it turns amber in color, then add the butter and stir to combine.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate cream. Stir until its incorporated. Store in a container at room temperature until ready to use. Note: If you make this ahead of time, simply place the bottle or jar in hot water to warm the caramel so it’s pourable.

Ganache :
4 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate broken into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor (I like cointreau or kahlua) or vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate caramel sauce

Heat cream to scalding (not boiling). Pour over the pieces of chocolate that are in a mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes then stir until there are no pieces of chocolate and it’s smooth and shiny, then add the chocolate caramel sauce and stir to combine.
Place bowl in an ice bath and stir or whisk until it’s cool but not cold — it will stiffen fairly quickly if it gets too cold. Remove from the ice bath and beat with a mixer or whisk until the ganache is fluffy and spreadable. Frost the cake immediately. Best served at room temperature.



Eat Your Peas and Carrots!

I’ve been sitting here, staring at an empty white page for about an hour or so. Mike is sitting here with me. Sophie is lying at our feet.

“What can one possibly write about peas and carrots?” I ask the both of them.
“I have no idea. Why would you even want to?” Mike replies.
Sophie just looks at me.

It’s quite obvious that neither one of them really cares.

Mike looks at Sophie, and Sophie looks at Mike…
“I know baby, I’m scared too…” he says to her.
“What have we done lately that’s story worthy?” I ask him.
“Nothing. We suck.” He replies.

So, we haven’t done a thing lately.
I guess I have to fix that.
You know… so we don’t “suck” anymore.

IMG_1849So, forget Mike and Sophie.  They don’t like peas and carrots anyway….

I do have one question for you. It has nothing to do with peas and carrots. It’s one that I heard on the radio on the way to pick up my CSA box this afternoon.

Which would you choose?
A red pill that would make you fluent in every single language in the world…
A blue pill that would make you the master of every single instrument in the world…

While it would be awesome to know how to play every single instrument in the world, I would absolutely love to be fluent in every language in the world! I mean, how cool would that be? I could talk about peas and carrots in any language I wanted!

…and I still wouldn’t know what to say about peas and carrots, no matter what language I spoke!

Which pill would you choose?  Know how to play all instruments?  Or fluent in every language?


Seriously though, I’ve received these gorgeous carrots for the last three weeks in my CSA box from Becker Farms (in Gasport, NY), and for the last two weeks, these beautiful peas. I’ve gotten into the habit of grilling the carrots, simply rubbed with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I like to do a quick sauté of peas with scallions, garlic, parsley, lemon and butter, and then serve the peas over the carrots.

While this is a great side dish, it’s also a wonderful meal in itself! There is no doubt that peas and carrots have had a wonderful relationship for years now, and the lemon with the scallions truly complement them both. It’s quick, it’s easy, and a wonderful summertime meal..served fresh off the grill, or served cold. It’s delicious either way!


I’m taking this dish to share with my friends at Angie’s Fiesta Friday. This week, Angie has asked Indu, from Indu’s International Kitchen, Selma, from Selma’s Table, and Hilda, from Along the Grapevine to co-host! Oh yeah, this is going to be a great time! Thanks to Indu, Selma, and Hilda for co-hosting! And thanks to Angie from The Novice Gardener for hosting this wonderful party for the 24th week in a row! I hope you stop by the party to see what all of the talented people have shared this week! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, it’s a great way to meet other bloggers, and to gain exposure. You will love this wonderful blogging community…everyone is so friendly, you’ll feel like you’ve known us all for years!


And now, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of wonderful people who are new to the blogging world…

Emily from The Burlap Kitchen has been blogging since around February this year. She is a delightful person, who really knows what she’s doing in her kitchen! I am so happy she stumbled across my blog, otherwise I wouldn’t have the pleasure of watching her blog grow, and grow it shall, as this girl is going places!

Tina from Miss Wu Kitchen is very new to blogging. This is how small a world it truly is… I used to work with her husband! I was so thrilled to hear that she had started a blog, that I went right away to see what she was up to! Her blog has a wonderful start with some deliciously gorgeous cupcakes, and I look forward to getting to know her!

I hope that you stop by to visit them… I know that you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!

Life is good. It’s a “why do you even want to talk about peas and carrots anyway?” “Because they’re delicious, that’s why…” kind of good..


Peas and Carrots
Serves 2

One bunch fresh carrots, with the greens trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 quart fresh pea pods
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

Clean and trim the carrots. Generously rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place over low heat on the grill, and grill until browned.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter with the lemon juice. Add the scallions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for about three minutes or so. Add the peas and parsley, and sauté until tender, about five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over the grilled carrots.

Garnish with fresh parsley, and serve warm or cold.



Fresh Cherry Scones

About a week or so ago, Katie and I were out shopping. Okay, so the truth is, we were supposed to be picking strawberries, but there were a few factors in the equation that kept us from going… such as:

    1. It was hot outside.
    2. It was late in the afternoon, and we were tired.
    3. It was the very last day of strawberry picking, so we knew that it would be slim pickins’.
    4. Ok, number 3 was just a lame excuse.
    5. We really wanted to go to Christmas Tree Shops and Target.
    6. Emphasis on Numbers 1, 2, and 5…
    7. We knew that my beloved Wegmans actually carried the Coulter Farm’s strawberries in the little green cartons that we would have put them in, and no one would be the wiser when we came home with them from the store.

Honestly, nobody was even home when we got there, and they wouldn’t have thought anything of it anyway….but since we feel like we’re getting away with something here, let’s just go with it!


This really has nothing to do with the strawberries. We did go shopping at Target and Christmas Tree Shops….and we did make jam with the strawberries… but that’s about as far as that goes. Actually, Katie made an awesome strawberry basil jam, that I’d like to share with you one of these days. Maybe. If she says ok.

But again, this has nothing to do with strawberries, or Katie’s strawberry basil jam. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with Target or Christmas Tree Shops for that matter.


What it has to do with, is that in between shopping, we stopped at a popular coffee house that is a part of Target. While I was ordering our iced coffees, I noticed a blueberry scone in their little glass case. Now that sounded really appealing, so I ordered one for the both of us to share.

A red flag did pop up in my mind when the girl behind the counter handed it to me in a sealed plastic bag, which says to me that it had been baked a while ago, probably weeks ago, and most likely took a few of them out of the freezer that morning.

It’s not a bakery, Prudence… it’s a coffee house.
Their baked goods are delivered in a big truck, not fresh out of the oven.
I get that. I really do.

IMG_1889This is how bad I am…and please tell me that there is someone like me out there…. I couldn’t even wait until we made it to the car, and I’m opening the plastic bag to break a piece of scone off, to pop in my mouth in the middle of the parking lot!

It was so dry.
Dry and crumbly…

….and as I tried to tell Katie that it was dry, I started laughing, because my mouth had become so dry from this scone, that I couldn’t talk! And when I tried to talk, all that came out was scone dust! I mean, it was only a matter of 30 seconds before I took a swig of my iced coffee, and all was right with the mouth environment once again….

But in that 30 seconds of choking on scone dust, I envisioned myself lying in the middle of the parking lot, and the paramedics standing over me, telling the rubberneckers (because you know rubberneckers and their morbid fascination and all)… “It was the dry scone…she couldn’t wait until she got to the car….”


I firmly believe that while a scone should be on the crumbly side, there is no reason that it should ever, ever be dry!!

So, this past weekend while I was making cherry jam with the cherries that came in my CSA box, along with a bag of black cherries that I bought from my beloved Wegmans, I thought that a fresh cherry scone would be the perfect thing to go with the jam, and I saved about a cup of cherries to use in the dough.


They’re quick and easy to prepare, and honest to goodness, these scones are delicious. They’re moist. Moist!! They’re sweet. And they’re packed with a cherry in every bite!

They’re great for a “grab and go” breakfast, or to serve on a lazy weekend morning…a brunch…or even a tea party! No matter how you serve them, they’ll be a hit with everyone!

Life is good, it’s an “Emphasis on a moist scone” kind of good..

Fresh Cherry Scones

Just a quick note: Make sure you mix the ingredients just until combined.  The dough will be sticky, so make sure you use a lot of flour on the board before you put the dough down, and then generously flour the top of the dough before you roll them out.

While I have them cut into eighths, you can actually cut them into sixteenths, and make them into mini scones.

I’m sharing the mock clotted cream recipe that I found from Tea Time Magazine.  The cherry jam recipe is from the directions that came from the box of Sure Jell.

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh pitted cherries, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter cubes, and cut in with a fork or pastry blender until the flour mixture and butter are large crumbs.

Add the heavy cream and egg. Stir until just blended. Fold in the cherries.

Place the dough on a generously floured surface, and flour the top. Roll out to a 1″ thick square, or circle. Cut into wedges. (Shown here).
IMG_1746Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool completely on cooling racks. Drizzle with vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth.

Serve the glazed scones with mock clotted cream and homemade cherry jam.

Mock Clotted Cream:
(From Tea Time Magazine)
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and sour cream. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth. Add cream and vanilla extract, beating until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until needed.

Cherry Jam:
Recipe from Kraft Sure Jell  ( I didn’t use the almond extract)

4 cups prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe sweet cherries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
5 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/4 tsp almond extract

STEM and pit cherries. Finely chop or grind fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups of the prepared cherries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

STIR pectin into fruit mixture in saucepot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and extract. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon.

FILL containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. (If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.)




Writers Process Blog Tour, Part II: Janelle’s Cucumber and Sesame Seed Salad

A few weeks back, I participated in the Writers Process Blog Tour. I took it a little bit further, and said that I wanted to share something from each of the girls who I introduced to you. Today, I’d like to share Janelle, from Bakes in Slippers. Seriously, how cute is her blog’s name? I’ve only known Janelle for a couple of months now, but feel like I’ve known her for much longer than that, and that’s because she shares not only her delicious recipes on a daily basis, but I’ve enjoyed watching her share her life, her daughter’s milestone in graduating from high school, to searching for a college to attend.. She’s funny, she’s loving, she’s dedicated… I’m honored to know her, and so happy that I stumbled across her on Twitter…


I’ve come to the conclusion that Janelle never sleeps. I don’t know how she can possibly sleep with all of the food that she keeps cranking out of her kitchen on a daily basis! I swear, she posts so many wonderful and beautiful photos of food…I wonder how she does it. It’s not just preparing the food, but she still writes about it, and then produces gorgeous photos too! Oh, and then runs a Facebook group on top of all of that!! Unless she has cloned herself, I would say she is a Super Blogger!


While all of her recipes catch my eye, there was one that really caught my eye, and that was her Cucumber and Sesame Seed Salad. At the time, I had so many cucumbers in my fridge, and I knew that this would be the perfect salad to use them in. A change of pace from the sour cream cucumber salad that I normally would have made. I’m so happy I tried this… it’s delicious. It has a bit of an Asian flair to it from the sesame and green onions. It’s sweet and it’s nutty. The longer you let it sit, the more flavorful it becomes!! I love to eat it as the main dish, with a piece of crusty bread…. Last night, I made it yet again, but this time after I let it sit forever, I threw it over some leaf lettuce. Delicious. You really need to try this.

I hope that you stop by Janelle’s blog, Bakes in Slippers. I know that you’ll be captivated just like I was…

Life is good, it’s a “Having a friend who you’ve only known for a couple of months, but feel like it’s been a lifetime” kind of good…


Cucumber and Sesame Seed Salad
I’ve copied this recipe from Janelle’s blog: Bakes in Slippers

*This amount serves two, so just keeping going up until you have enough to fit your needs.

1 large cucumber shaved long or sliced thin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 T red wine vinegar (rice vinegar would work well also)
½ tsp minced garlic
pinch of crushed red peppers
½ tsp sesame seeds
2 green onions diced thin
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Combine cucumber, salt, and sugar into a bowl mixing well until cucumber is coated. Let marinate for 30 mintues
While marinating, combine remaining ingredients (except green onions) into a bowl and stir together, set aside
Drain and rinse cucumbers and put into a bowl, mixing in the marinate. Top with green onions and let sit in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Serve cold, topping with toasted sesame oil. Can be kept up to three additional days.



Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake

My best friend Cindy’s son will be taking his driver’s test in the next couple of weeks. There are three things that I think about when I hear about someone taking their driver’s test….lawnmowers, my father laughing, and strawberry shortcake.

Cindy has heard this story a gazillion times, so Cynthia, I know you’re reading this, so you can skip these next few paragraphs while I tell everyone else my story….

I’m not a fan of driving, and there is no doubt that I’m a defensive rather than an aggressive driver. There is a very big reason for that…

I was a late bloomer when it came to getting my driver’s license. I took my test when I was 18 years old. When my friends were all going for their driver’s tests, there were rumors going around school of a very, VERY grumpy and balding examiner, who was failing kids left and right… they called him “Grumpy Bald Guy”. I was nervous enough, I didn’t need to think about grumpy bald guy (GBG for short).

My father drove me to my test that day, and as we sat there waiting, I prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t get GBG.

Yeah, my prayers didn’t go through that day.
GBG came walking up to my car.
My lime green Gremlin with a white stripe.

Mmhmm… That’s right.
Lime Green.

GBG didn’t smile. Didn’t really do anything really, except get in the car, and wrote on the papers that were on his clipboard. I did everything I was supposed to do, checked everything I was supposed to check… my window was down so that I could do my hand signals…and his window was down too. We were set to go.

…And then he told me to make my first right hand turn at the stop sign. Ok, I made it through the right hand turn perfectly. Deep breath. So far so good.

It’s important for you to know that there was a man mowing his lawn to the right of us… GBG started to tell me to do my three point turn, when all of a sudden there was a loud bang on my car… GBG makes a loud grunting sound, and falls forward.

Somebody shot my car, and then shot GBG! There’s blood! The man was bleeding!! What does an 18 year old girl do, when she thinks that her car and GBG have been shot?? Well, she slams on the brakes in the middle of the street, and starts to cry…that’s what she does!

I can’t even tell you if I put the car in park, sobbing, I asked GBG if he was alright… maybe a little loudly, and very, very shakily.

GBG sits up, and grabs a handkerchief out of his pocket, and puts it to the side of his head. He had me pull to the side of the street until he could get his wits about him. And there we sat, him holding a handkerchief to his head, and me crying, watching the man mow his lawn.

He looked around the car, and picked up a pretty good size stone from the floor. The only thing that he could figure is that the man that was mowing the lawn to the right of us, hit a stone. The stone must have flown from the lawnmower blade, and somehow hit my car, but then somehow made it perfectly inside the window… and hit GBG in the head!

What are the odds?

I asked him if he wanted to go back to where we started the test, and he said “No, let’s continue the test”. He quickly rolled up his window, and the test continued.…

From that point on… my three point turn turned into a five point turn. My parallel parking was about three feet from the curb. I don’t remember using any hand signals at all…

We made it back to where we started, and the test was over. We got out of the car, and he walked over to my father, and stood there talking to him for a few minutes, and I sat in the passenger side of my car, waiting for my father to come take me home.

Pa laughed all the way home.
I cried all the way home.

I swear he had tears rolling down his eyes as he was telling my mom about it, he was laughing so hard. I know that he wasn’t laughing at me, but just laughing at the whole situation. In hindsight, it’s hilarious! But at that point in time, my life was crashing all around me..


I stood there crying, watching her cut up strawberries while he told her about it. Mom was making strawberry shortcake for dinner. She would do that once in a while. It was a special treat when we had strawberry shortcake for dinner…and I think that she was making it to celebrate my drivers test!

Now, back then, they didn’t tell you that you passed your test on that same day. We either had to wait for the license to come in the mail, or we could call within a couple of days and they would tell us whether we passed or failed. There was no doubt that I failed that day.

I didn’t want to know. But after a few days, my father said that I should call. “No way” I said. So he called for me. After he hung up, he turned to look at me… “You passed.” he told me. And he gave me a great big hug.

And then we laughed…

GBG passed me.
He passed me.

To this day, I’m shocked that the man passed me. I did everything wrong during my test. I slammed on the brakes in the middle of the street when the rock hit my car. I sat there sobbing like a lunatic. Everything I did after that was completely wrong.

But the grumpy bald guy passed me.
To this day, I still have the rock that hit him in the head.

I’ve kept it in my jewelry box for all these years.  It serves as a reminder that some of the things we think are so “life crashing” at the time, are just memories and sometimes funny stories that we can tell later on…

So while I was cutting the strawberries for this, I was thinking of my mom, standing there cutting up strawberries while my father was laughing and telling her the story…. and I was thinking of Zach, Cindy’s son, knowing that on the day of his test, I’ll cross my fingers, and silently hope that there isn’t a man mowing his lawn to the right of him…just like I did for my kids…and probably will do for everyone that I hear has a drivers test coming up…I know that he will do just fine during his test, and I have no doubt that he will pass with flying colors.. I love that boy.

I made this strawberry shortcake a little differently this time around… I really wanted strawberry shortcake with the warm biscuits, and fresh strawberries….but I was really in the mood for cheesecake with fresh strawberries too…so why not have both? There really was no reason not to! And to be honest, even if there was a reason not to, I probably wouldn’t have listened..


Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake. I simply made the whipped cream into a cheesecake whipped cream. It’s delicious. The best of both worlds! It’s a wonderful dessert… or a wonderful treat for dinner!

I truly hope you do have strawberry shortcake for dinner sometime…

I’m bringing my strawberry cheesecake shortcake to Angie’s Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener to share with everyone. Angie is a beautiful host, and always puts on a wonderful party! This week, she has asked Margy from La Petite Casserole, and Sylvia from Superfoodista to co-host… two absolutely beautiful souls. I know that this party will be so elegant, so sophisticated with these two wonderful girls in control. I just cannot wait to get there… Thanks to Angie, Margy, and Sylvia.. it’s going to be a wonderful time..

Life is good, it’s a “He passed me. The man passed me.” kind of good…


Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake
Serves Four

Just a quick note: The biscuits that I made were “Ruth’s Diner Mile High Biscuits” that I found on Pinterest, and that’s the recipe that I’m sharing with you today. It made exactly 7 biscuits for me. I toasted the remaining three biscuits for a couple of days, and ate them with fresh strawberry jam.

2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup sugar (I don’t like them too sweet, so use as much sugar to suit your sweet tooth)
Cheesecake whipped cream (Recipe to follow)
Ruth’s Diner Mile High Biscuits (Recipe to follow)
Whole strawberries for garnish

In a large bowl, mix the strawberries and sugar. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Ruth’s Diner Mile High Biscuits:
Adapted from Deals to Meals
3 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup water (Prudy’s note: I had to use 1/2 cup water. 1/4 cup just wasn’t enough)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and butter until crumbly. Mix in buttermilk, egg and just enough water to make a workable dough. Mix the dough until it is just barely combined (don’t over mix). Roll the dough onto a floured cutting board about 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter, or a 2 inch round cup. Place on a greased baking sheet (touching each other) and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 12-15 biscuits, depending how thick you make them.

Tips to making awesome biscuits:
*ONLY hand mix your dough. Don’t mix in a Bosch or with a hand mixer. The dough will be too tough and the dough will become dry if you use a mixer. You don’t want to over mix this recipe. The best way to mix this dough is with a pastry cutter or using two knives and cutting the dough back and forth. This method takes a little longer but will ensure the perfect biscuit. You want pieces of butter left in your biscuit, that is what keeps the dough light and flaky.
*Next tip is to keep your biscuit dough fairly thick. You want a tall and thick biscuit more than you do a thin and hard biscuit. Keeping the dough thick will ensure a chewy and soft biscuit. I keep my dough about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (cooking times may vary depending how thick you make them).

Cheesecake Whipped Cream:
1 8oz cream cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the shortcake:
Slice a biscuit in half, place the bottom half in a bowl. Pipe the cheesecake whipped cream onto the bottom half of the biscuit. Generously top with strawberries. Place the top half of the biscuit on top of the strawberries. Pipe a dollop of cheesecake whipped cream on the top of the biscuit, and garnish with a whole strawberry.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

S’Mores Cups

1044799_10200800140237298_1115234710_nThis is my son, Michael.
Or…as I lovingly call him…the Little Jerk.

I’d like to share him with you today.

I talked to him a couple of days ago, and asked him if it would be ok if I wrote a little something about him. He knows that I talk smack about him quite often in my posts, and usually it’s about him talking smack about me! I told him that sometimes I worry that the people who really don’t know me, or know what’s going on with him, might not understand the relationship that we truly do have, and think that I’m a disrespectful mother…or worse…that he’s a disrespectful son (which couldn’t be further from the truth)….

“Absolutely not” he answered in response to my asking to write about him.
“Ok, I respect that…” I replied.

Then he stood there for a minute thinking about it…and finally said:
“You know what? That’s fine…go ahead. I’m ok with it.”

First, I want to start out by saying that I had my two girls first. Mike is the baby of the family. When I had Katie and Jessica, I never dreamed in a million years that I’d have a boy. Or that I’d even want a boy. I mean…you can’t dress them up in cute little dresses, and buy them Barbies and fun stuff like that.

And then Mike came along.
And I fell instantly….head over heels….madly in love with that baby boy.
And I instantly knew what every other mother of a son feels….

It was around March last year, a couple of months before his 18th birthday. I was working in the kitchen, and he came walking in…

“Mom, I need to show you something…” he said, and began to pull up his sleeves. He held out his arms, and they were filled with bruises. Not just any bruises. But giant, deep dark, black and blue bruises. Massive bruises.

My heart sank, and I felt instantly sick, and very, very scared.

“Mike, what the hell? Are you fighting?” I asked. (please God, let him be fighting)
“No, I go to bed, and they’re there when I wake up” he answered.
“Have you been working out, using your punching bag or something?” I asked. (please God, let him be working out).
“A little, but not too much, but that’s not all…” he replied, as he started to pull up his pant legs to reveal more massive bruising on both of his legs.

And then he pulled up his shirt to show me the same bruises all over his torso. It makes me sick just to type these words. I made the mistake of Googling his symptoms. I won’t tell you what all of his symptoms pointed to, but it was bad.

We went to the doctor first thing on Monday morning. The doctor went through all of the same questions that I did… Fighting? No. Working out? No. Did you fall? No.

Then the doctor looked at me and asked “Well mom, what do you think?”….. “You know where my brain is Dr. Szymanski…” I answered. He nodded his head and said: “Yeah… we need to get some tests done. “ He went on to explain that the test results would take a full week to get back to him, so not to worry. Mike could go to school as he normally does, and he would call me the following Monday. One week.

Tuesday morning…the very next day, I’m sitting at my desk at work. The doctor calls… “Where is Michael?” he asks, a bit frantic.
“In school” I answered him.
“Get him out and take him immediately to the emergency room, he needs a blood transfusion! His platelet levels should be at 140, and they’re down to 6!!!” He kind of said kind of panicky..

I don’t remember much of what happened.  I don’t remember if I even hung up the phone…. I remember one of my co-workers holding on to me really tight, and a voice somewhere in the background saying: “Somebody needs to drive her to get her son…”

One of the girls that I work with took me to pick Mike up, and I had time to wipe my face, and compose myself the best I could. I can remember him standing outside of school waiting for me, and on the outside, he was cool as a cucumber…but his eyes told me that he was really scared.

The fear of the unknown.

He’s such a big guy, but all of a sudden, he was little again… and I wanted to grab him under my wing, and protect him, and fight anything that might try to hurt my boy.

But at the same time, I felt so small… like a tiny little insignificant speck in this whole universe. Helpless. Scared.

He was filled with questions, he was annoyed, and he was scared. And all I could tell him was that we had to get to the hospital…something was going on with his platelets, and we had to get it fixed.

And then the tests on him began.

He never once saw me cry. I’d excuse myself as if I had to run to the ladies room, and then I would go and sit with Katie in Jess in the waiting room. My girls are my spine. They are my life. I would sit in the waiting room, and get the sobbing out of my system….beg God to take whatever it was, out of Mike…and put it into me. And then I’d go back to his hospital room, and would have some smartass comment for him….just to keep the banter between the two of us going. It kind of calmed him…and it kind of calmed me.

The test results came back.

It’s called ITP. Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. An auto immune disease. Which in layman’s terms, means that his body for some crazy fluke of a thing, decided to kill of its own platelets, making it difficult for his body to heal in a proper manner…his blood won’t clot when his levels are low. So if he cut himself, the bleeding wouldn’t stop. A simple bump to his head could do some major damage to his brain, or worse.

We are blessed.

I don’t want him to be sick, but if my son has to be sick, it’s an illness that I’m grateful for him to have, because it can be managed. He can lead a somewhat normal life. Ok, I say that…but that’s the selfish mother in me….What I hear is that I get to keep my boy. I get to take him home.

What he hears is that he will never be able to play football again. He will never be able to do the things that normal 19 year old boys can do.


He graduated from high school last year… and at that point, the doctors were still trying to regulate his meds. He was bruising about every two weeks. You’d never know it, but underneath that graduation gown, his body was riddled with bruises. The next day, he spent 12 hours hooked up to an IV that would boost his platelet level, to get him through another two weeks.

It’s a pain in the neck for him, and he has to be very cautious with everything he does from now on. When he starts to bruise really bad, we know he is due for a treatment, which takes 12 hours, and which totally knocks him down for a couple of days afterwards. He has to wear a med-alert necklace in case of an accident, so that the medics know that he has low platelets. Everyone around him must be aware of his condition, in case of an accident…even if it’s something as simple as a small cut. His friends are awesome. I love those boys. They take such good care of him for me.

We are blessed. I get to keep my boy.
There is an unspoken bond between my son and me.
One that says we made it through this war together.

So, when I talk smack about him….or talk about him talking smack about me…. Now you’ll know. It’s all with love.

I love my kids more than life itself.


So…when Mike agreed to let me write this about him, I asked him what recipe he’d like me to post on his behalf.

“Stuffed shells” he immediately replied (which came as no surprise, because they are his all time favorite).
“No, better yet.. how about those s’mores cups?” he said, changing his mind…. “You made them for me all the time last year”


That was a great idea.  Even though I know that these little cups have run their course on the Internet…S’Mores Cups are fitting for this post, because that’s what he craved all last year, and that’s what I made for him. So, so many times last year. I would have made him whatever his little heart desired.

They’re quick and easy to make. You can have the ingredients on hand at all times (unless you’re like me, and you get into the chocolate a little more than you should)….  And he loves them.

They’re perfect to take to any party,  to eat around a bonfire, or for a “just because” kind of day… Everyone will love them, both young and old.

IMG_1668Life is good… it’s a “I might talk smack about the little jerk, but my love runs deeper than you could ever imagine” kind of good….


S’mores cups
Makes 24 cups

Just a quick note…I don’t know where the original recipe came from. If you Google S’mores cups, or look them up on Pinterest, you’ll find a gazillion recipes for them, all using basically the same amount of ingredients. I did a little digging, and this was the oldest post that I could find for the recipe. I actually tried them for the first time last year. Katie’s boyfriend Ryan’s mom made them, and I knew immediately that Mike would love them.  I changed the ingredient amounts just a little bit.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, divided
12 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter in a small bowl.

Place 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan. Firmly press crumbs to form shallow cups. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.

Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using shears dipped in cold water. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened. Remove pans from oven to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.

Break remaining candy bars and place in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 to 60 minutes or until set. Makes 24 cups.



The Hills Have Pies

IMG_1518 2
Have you ever seen the movie(s) The Hills Have Eyes, by Wes Craven? If not, I highly recommend you don’t…unless you love to be on the edge of your seat and scared out of your mind. The 2006 movie was a remake of the 1977 classic of the same name. Wes Craven really knows how to tell a scary story…one that stays with you…pretty much forever. Scared and scarred for life.

The story is basically about a family who is on a cross country, and is purposely detoured, and drive unknowingly into an abandoned U.S. nuclear testing site. There, they are terrorized and almost all of them killed by mutant “hill people”.

It’s a movie that always comes to mind when we are at the cabin….because, of course… our cabin sits on a 57 acre hillside. And what makes it even creepier…is that there is this man who has suddenly appeared in the last few months while we are on a hike, or a four wheeler ride. Although the land is posted, there are still some of the local neighbors who use the trails for their four wheelers, or for going on walks.

But this man… he’s just plain scary. He’s rather elusive, which makes him even more creepy….and when we come face to face in the woods, he just disappears into the trees. One minute he’s there… the next minute…poof. He’s gone.

We did find out from the local neighbors that he’s harmless. But that doesn’t make him any less scary, especially when he’s there… and…you know he’s there because you saw him…but then all of a sudden he’s not there anymore. And then you have to walk by the spot in which he disappeared because that’s the way back to the cabin….

And it always makes me think of the end of the movie, when the remaining family members think that they’ve killed off all of the mutants…and unbeknownst to them, there is a mutant hill person silently watching them through the trees…is he watching me through the trees as I pass by? It’s quite unnerving.


I really need to stop watching scary movies.
And I need to start making more pies.


So anyway… up in the woods along the trails are wild strawberries. They’re everywhere…And if I’m lucky enough, I can grab a few before the mutant hill man, or a chipmunk finds them first. What better way to calm my jittery nerves, than a rustic strawberry pie, and a scoop of fresh ice cream on top…


The hills have pies.
And that’s not scary at all.
It’s delicious.

It’s delicious especially with my quick (cheater’s) fresh vanilla ice cream, which is basically frozen whipped cream, and a cute little pastry heart garnish (Because every pie should have a heart). This is enough bring a smile to even the crankiest of mutant hill men!


….And…. I’m bringing my rustic strawberry pie to Angie’s Fiesta Friday today… and have the honor once again to co-host! Today, I am thrilled to be co-hosting with Elaine from Foodbod! This is going to be one lovely party, because not only is this lady one highly talented chef, her sweet personality is like a magnet.  It’s truly love at first sight as soon as you meet Elaine, you just can’t help it…she is so darn adorable!

A special thank you to Angie from The Novice Gardener for hosting Fiesta Friday. I know I say this all the time…but how time flies when we’re having fun…. Can you believe that we are at week number 22 already?? Our beautiful Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds every single week! But how can it not? Angie is true blue…with a kind heart, and a hilarious outlook on pretty much everything! And not surprising, her funny and entertaining manner keeps people coming back each week! And don’t get me started on her absolutely gorgeous photography and mouth-watering recipes. Seriously. You’ll become instantly smitten. I promise.

I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week…you’ll be amazed. We have some truly talented people there!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Elaine or Angie, if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…


I truly hope to see you there!

Life is good, it’s a “I wonder if mutant hill man likes strawberry pies, because maybe I’ll make him one someday” kind of good…


Rustic Strawberry Pie with Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream

Just a quick note…if you’re planning on making the ice cream for this recipe, although it’s simple, then you’ll need to plan ahead. You’ll need to freeze your ice cream maker bowl for at least 8 hours, to overnight!

1 quart fresh strawberries (Because let’s face it. Wild strawberries aren’t readily available to everyone.)
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
dash salt
Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust (Recipe Below)
Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe Below)

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust:
If you haven’t tried this pie crust….you honestly need to. It will be your “go-to” pie crust forever.
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir. The dough will be sticky.
Roll out on a generously floured surface, a little on the thicker side. Maybe about a ¼” thick-14” square. Spoon the strawberry mixture into the middle of the crust, leaving about a 2-1/2” edge. Cut around the square so that the edges are perfectly straight. Save the scraps. Fold the edges up over the strawberries, overlapping the corners, so that it folds into a perfect square. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Roll the scraps again to about ¼”, and using a heart shaped cookie cutter…cut a heart out of the pastry dough, and place it in the middle of the pie (Because all pies should have a heart).
With a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry hearts as you can. Sprinkle all of the hearts with course sugar, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch them, so that they don’t burn! These hearts will be used to garnish the pie and ice cream later.

Quick Vanilla Ice Cream:
Just a quick note:  This is basically frozen whipped cream.  You want the heavy cream to be cold when you start this. Make sure that you keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to make the ice cream!  I only add 1/4 cup of sugar, because I just don’t care for it when it’s so sweet, especially when it’s going to top a very sweet pie. If you like it a little sweeter, then by all means, add more sugar.  It won’t change the texture of the ice cream at all.
2 cups heavy cream (Just out of refrigerator, you want it to be cold!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Combine the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Since the heavy cream is right out of the fridge, then you can go ahead and pour it into your ice cream maker’s bowl. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. It takes a good half hour or so.

As soon as it’s frozen to your desired consistency, serve it with a square of fresh strawberry pie, and garnish with a pastry heart.



Raspberry Rose Sorbet: My Guest Post for Frugal Foodie Mama!


I had the honor of writing a guest post for my friend Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama today! I was so thrilled when she asked; it took me a matter of a millisecond to say “Yes!”   And it was another millisecond before I knew exactly what I wanted to make!!

I think it’s safe to say that we are officially in the heat of the summer….and what better way to cool down, than with raspberry rose sorbet?


Seriously…this sorbet made with fresh raspberries and a hint of rose is so, so delicious….and it’s just one of those things that makes you feel happy to serve to your very surprised guests when they see the floral ice bowls that you made! Just sit back and listen to the “Ooh’s and Aah’s” while they proclaim you to be the master of desserts for the day!

But only you know the truth…and that’s just how easy this pretty dessert was to make!

It’s posted today, so if you’d like to see more photos and get my recipe, please visit Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama! While you’re there… browse through Carrie’s beautiful blog…I know that you will love her, and her many wonderful ideas and recipes…

….such as Carrie’s:

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry & Ricotta Ice Cream

ice cream

… or her

Frozen Strawberry Key Lime Margaritas 



Seriously…Crazy delicious!

A special thank you to Carrie for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It has been a pleasure. Truly a pleasure.

Life is good… it’s a “raspberry rose and flowers in ice” kind of good…