Friday, April 5, 2013

Child of the Heart

Hi guys! It's been a while since my last post, I know. I'm dealing with a general case of the blahs, mixed with a huge case of zero motivation to do ANYTHING. Add in the passing of my recent 29th birthday on the first of April, and it's a downward spiral.

I've been missing my mom a lot these last few weeks, especially in the days before my birthday. For those of you who don't know, I was born on April 1, 1984 and shortly thereafter I was adopted by my wonderful mother, Eileen.

Mom already had 3 children, the youngest being 8 years older than me. Eileen knew my biological mother closely, and so when BioMother said that she just couldn't take care of me, Eileen quietly said "I want her." Here was a woman who already had 3 children (who were a handful, let me tell you!), but she had so much love in her heart that she took someone else's child and gave her a home.

Not just a home. A family. From the time I was old enough to understand what adoption meant, I knew that Eileen wasn't my birth mother. She made damn sure that I knew that even though I wasn't a child of her womb, I was a child of her heart. I was also the youngest, and so I will confess to being a -tad- spoiled.

In any case, I was lucky. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, but it was a very loving one underneath the chaos. My mother was not perfect, by any means, but she was a GREAT mother. I never, as some adopted children do, felt that I wasn't part of the family. And I was always Mommy's baby. :D

I grew up, met the man who stole my heart, moved out, and had my babies. Looking back, I can see how lonely my mom must have been having all her kids grown and involved in their own lives. She was so wrapped up in being Mom that she just didn't know how to be anything else! Then she got sick.

It was a horrible three months. The cancer was very advanced, and they tried the chemo, but by the time we caught it, there wasn't much the chemo could do. She passed away just days before Christmas and all in a heartbeat, my world was blown apart. My babies, especially my boys, were destroyed, and it was all I could do to hold it together for them.

But every year, on my birthday, it hurts just a little worse than on the other days. My birthday was always a big deal for me and Mom. She always went out of her way to make it as special as she could, even though she didn't always have the money to throw a party or buy me presents.

The running joke was that because I'd been born at 11:56 p.m., four minutes before midnight, I only had four minutes to make a wish, blow out my candles, eat my cake, and open the presents. Every year, without fail, she'd burst into my room at 11:56 and jump on me to give me my "birthday smacks."

Being born on April Fool's Day, you can imagine the torture I endured. On my 16th birthday, she handed me a box that contained a set of car keys. I nearly had a heart attack! Every 16 year old dreams of getting a car on their birthday! I run outside, only to be brought up short by the sight of a big red bow, laying on the ground in front of our house.

"Happy Birthday!!! Do you like your new invisible car?" I was not amused. Now, it's funny as hell, and I may just do it to my oldest when he turns 16, but then? I was MAD!

Well, anyway, I'm not sure what the point of this post was, other than to share a little bit of the awesomeness of my mom with all of you. I'd also like to share a poem I wrote for her, so here it is. Maybe it will bring some comfort to anyone who's lost someone.

Speak my name in reverence

Take comfort in my love

I’m gone but not forgotten

Watching you from above


I walk this path with you

Although your eyes can’t see

Look to your heart and there you’ll find

The greatest part of me


I’m on the side of angels now

I wear my wings with grace

Have no fear, we’ll meet again

In this heavenly place


So smile through your tears

Because through you, I will live on

My body may be laid to rest

But my soul is never gone


In every dance of sunbeams

Every whisper of wind through the trees

You’ll feel my touch, hear my voice

 Carried on the breeze
Lots of love,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Honor of St. Patricks Day- Irish Carbomb Cupcakes!!!

I'm such an airhead... I should have posted this yesterday for you guys, so you could make them for today. Well, better late than never, I guess. Anyway! I was trolling the internet for recipes one day last year and I came across this post from the Browneyed Baker...
May I say... this lady is a goddess and we should worship at her feet? GENIUS! So I figured I'd give it a shot and see how they turned out. The answer? I ate six... Here they are!
Irish Carbomb Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
For the Bailey's Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.
Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.
Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.
Filling the Cupcakes: Using a cupcake corer or the bottom of a large icing tip, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Bailey's Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or a hand held mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.
Fantastic!!! Another successfully tested recipe. Hope you guys have fun with this one! Let me know how they turn out.
Lots of love,
(Thanks to for the recipe!)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Herb Crusted Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce

Ugh. Have you ever had one of those days where you're just sick of everything and you have no idea what to make for dinner? That was me, yesterday. So I ask the hubby what he wants and I get "Whatever you want." Really? Would I be asking what you want if I had any IDEA what I wanted? Grrrrr! So, I plopped the laptop on his lap with my Good Eats Pinterest board open and told him to find something. This is what he came up with.
Now, we all know that not everything on Pinterest works out as well as it looks in the photos. But, that's what this blog is all about. Finding new recipes, trying them out, and letting you guys know how it worked out so you don't have to waste the time and money. In this case, it was a slam dunk!
Herb Crusted Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce
(The original recipe made enough for two people. I had to double it to make enough for everyone in my family, but I will stick to the original recipe to avoid confusion :)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Progresso Garlic and Herb Bread Crumbs (All I had on hand was plain, so I just made my own by adding 2 tsp of Italian Seasoning)
2 tsp McCormick "Perfect Pinch" Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper Seasoning
1 tsp chives (fresh or dried, doesn't matter.)
3 tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 can of Italian Diced Tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp basil
Black pepper
Plan of Action:
Mix bread crumbs, Perfect Pinch Seasoning, and chives thouroughly in a shallow bowl.
Like this!
Put milk in a seperate shallow bowl.
Dip the chicken in the milk, then dredge in the bread crumb mix.
(I did mention that I had to double the recipe!)
Melt the butter in a medium non stick skillet over MEDIUM heat. The chicken is thin, so it will cook quickly, and we don't want to burn it!
Add the chicken and cook until nicely browned and cooked through (about 10 minutes, depending on how thin your chicken is. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer! USDA temp for chicken is 165 degrees)
Drooling yet?
Remove chicken and keep warm. In the same skillet, add the garlic and saute for one minute.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up all those yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomatoes and cream and boil for one minute, stirring.
Reduce heat to low and add the Parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper to taste. Stir and cook the sauce until heated through and thickened. (About 5 minutes)
Serve by pouring the sauce over the chicken. You could serve it over a bed of pasta with some crusty bread to sop up all that heavenly sauce. In fact, the hubby said this should be our go to Alfredo sauce!
So, there it is. A Pinterest recipe tested and approved. Easy, delicious, and it does look exactly like the pic!
Let me know how it turns out for you!
Lots of Love,
*Thanks to for the recipe!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rainbow Cupcakes

Hello, my friends! It has been a while since I posted, I know, but life got in the way :D We actually took the kids on a couple road trips, one to Crystal Cave in Kutztown, PA and the other to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. That was such an amazing day! We spent the morning and afternoon in Baltimore, and then on the way home we swung through Washington D.C. and showed the kids the White House and all the amazing memorials. A.J. and Nick were all about the Lincoln Memorial, because, and I quote "That's the same statue that's in Night At the Museum 2, Mom!"
Anyway, we had a blast, but I'm back now, and in such a great mood! Hanging out with my kids makes me happy, and here's some other things that make me happy: rainbows, cupcakes, Channing Tatum, and Nora Roberts. I can't give you Channing or Nora, but I can give you rainbows and cupcakes... together!
I know rainbow cakes were EVERYWHERE for a while. Not being a girl who likes to jump on the bandwagon, I stayed away from them. Also, I saw so many pics posted of cakes where the colors had run together and ended up making this weird, grayish purple cake that made me think of zombie flesh. So, I give you rainbow cupcakes!

Slightly more time consuming then the cake version, BUT... prettier, and the colors don't run together.
Again, this is something I did before I started the blog, so there aren't step-by-step photos, but I don't feel they'd be needed in any case. This couldn't be more simple. It IS time consuming, but well worth it in the end.
All you really need to do is take a box of white cake mix, mix it according to directions, and then divide the batter evenly into six bowls. Take your choice of food coloring and add it to the bowls to get purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. ( I used the regular food coloring, so I had to play around to get the right hue. I've never used GEL coloring, but I've heard that the colors are more vibrant. If you know for sure, leave me a comment!)
Now here's the time sucker! You need to layer each color one at a time into your cupcake liners. You could certainly use a spoon and carefully spread out each layer over the last one, but I found that the easiest way to do it was to scoop each color into it's own Ziplock bag, snip off a corner, and pipe the batter into the liner.
See, you want to make sure to keep the layers thin in order to get all of the colors in without overfilling the liner. You also have to be careful to completely cover each previous layer with the new layer, in order to prevent colors mixing!
I'd also recommend sticking with the order of colors used in the picture. It's a tad blurry, I apologize, but the order is, from the bottom up:
The cupcake in the picture is one that I made using a spoon to spread each color, so as you can see... there's too much purple and not enough orange. It was hard to get the layers spread out completely without mixing them, so that's why I switched to the Ziplock baggies. Much easier, neater, and less cleanup!
Once you get the layers done, just pop them in the oven and bake according to box directions. Voila! Pretty rainbow cupcakes! One of my favorite things about them is that if you use the foil liners, nobody will know what the cupcake looks like until they peel the liner off. I wish I had take a picture of a whole one to show you how cool they look on the outside, but I didn't so you'll just have to make them yourself to see! :)
Well, there it is, folks. These are perfect for St. Patty's Day, school bake sales, birthday parties, football games, etc. If you're making a lot of them, you could recruit some friends and set up a little assembly line and have one person do each color.
I hope you make them and love them as much as I did! Let me know how they turn out in the comments below.
Lots of love,

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Relatable Post

Ick... I am not a morning person. Whoever invented 7 a.m. is probably the same guy who decided on the spelling of Wednesday. This man obvioulsy delights in tormenting the innocent.

Needless to say, I'm a grumpy bitch today, so I figured I would post something designed to put a smile on anyone's face. Hopefully, by the time I get through adding the pics and post this, I'll be in a better mood... otherwise, someone please warn my kids!

Never EVER fails. For some reason, I die laughing everytime I see this.

*snicker* It's so true though!
100% applies to me.
I can't even... there's no words for this. It's so freaking cute, it hurts.
Giggle-worthy, but really it's all about the Channing. Mmmmm, Channing.
Most awesome dad EVER! This will totally be Jeff when the girls start dating, lol.
If that ain't the damn truth!
*ahem* I don't know who this could be referring to...
ANd this one is my favorite... In my case, it would be "Babe," rather than Mom and Dad, lol. He finally got me a Kindle in self defense... he says, and I quote "You're not the one who has to carry all those damn boxes full of books when we move... the Kindle's expensive, but not as expensive as the hospital bills when I give myself a freaking hernia!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Smothered Pork Chops :D

The name says it all, folks. These pork chops are juicy, tender, melt in your mouth delicious. The gravy alone is so good I wanted to take a bath in it... and so easy to make. Hubby ate 4 of them... that's right... 4. F-O-U-R! They were that good. So, I thought I'd share them with you! I only have one pic for these, as I made them before I started this blog, but it's a pic of the finished product, at least.

*sigh* Apologies for the subpar picture... it in no way does justice to how good these looked.
Smothered Pork Chops
4 bone-in center cut pork chops (about an inch thick)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion sliced (thick or thin, depending on how you like your onions)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 and a 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
Ready, set, GO!
1. Salt the porkchops. Now, here you can get a little crazy and add a little seasoning. I sprinkled the chops with some cajun seasoning for a little kick, but you can use whatever herbs and spices you like. Don't coat the chops, just give em a happy little shower of herbaceous love :p
2. Pour the flour in a shallow bowl and lightly dredge the chops in it, making sure to tap off excess. KEEP THE REST OF THE FLOUR!
3. Heat the EVOO in a skillet large enough to contain all the chops. Use MEDIUM HEAT. We're just trying to get a nice browning on the chops, not cook them all the way through at this stage, usually 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to the plate.
4. You should have all sorts of yummy stuff at the bottom of the skillet now. We're going to use it! Add the onions, butter, thyme, sage, and a sprinkle of salt to the skillet. If the onions start to brown too quickly, lower the heat a bit. We want the onion golden brown, about 8 minutes.
5. Now add 2 tablespoons of that flour I told you to keep and stir it in for about a minute, just to cook the flour taste out. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Now pour in the milk, and breath the scent of that yummyness in... then add the chops to it and pat yourself on the back for being so awesome :)
7. Once the sauce starts to simmer, set the heat to medium-low and let it hang out until the sauce thickens up a bit and the chops are just cooked through, about 10 minutes. They should register 160 degrees on a meat thermometer, so if 10 minutes doesn't quite get you there, let em hang out a bit more. Trust me, extra time spent in that gravy bath won't hurt them any!
8. Let chops rest at least 3 minutes off the heat before serving, to give them time to suck all those juices back in.
*Must serve with rolls or crusty bread to sop up that gravy with! I caught the hubby using a slice of sandwich bread to swab the skillet out after dinner, lol!*
Good luck, and I hope it turns out just as amazing for you as it did for me... let me know!
Lots of love,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Handy Little Tips

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a good morning. Mine was awesome :D Dad was home from work today, so I got to sleep in a bit while he got the kids ready for school. Sheer bliss! I don't get to sleep in very often... if you're a mom, you understand. Once your kids are up, you're up. It's the mommy instinct, I guess.

Anyway, I've got a pretty cool post for you all today. I've compiled these genius little tips from all over the internet, and once you read them... you'll probably have a similar reaction to mine. Which was "Well, now I feel like an idiot." :p Hope they help, and if you've got any tips of your own, leave them in the comments!

Got a stripped screw? Lay a rubber band between the head of the screw and the tip of the screwdriver!

Everyone's got that pair of jeans that the zipper won't stay up on. Simple solution? Thread a circular key ring through the hole on the zipper tab, pull the zipper up, hook it over the button, and then button the pants as usual. Voila!

Fun little trick for bored kids on a summer night: Grab some glow sticks from the Dollar store, activate them, and then cut them open and pour the solution into bubbles. Glow in the dark bubbles! (Parental supervision for younger kids, obviously!)

Pour pancake batter into an empty, clean ketchup bottle. No mess, and you can make letters, faces, whatever you want!

Love this one for a baby shower or maybe a little girl's tea party: Bake cupcakes in those little ketchup cups you find at fast food restraunts. Not sure where you'd find them, so a little research is required, but you wouldn't need cupcake tins. Just put them on a cookie sheet. So cute!

I am about to change your life forever... Easter egg dyeing with small children made EASY! Push the egg into a wire wisk and let the little one dip it into the dye!

Use unflavored dental floss to cut soft cheeses or cakes neatly and easily! I used this to cut a round cake into two layers... I wrapped the floss around the middle of cake, crossed the ends, and pulled it slowly and steadily. Two perfectly even cake layers!

Small bathroom in need of more storage? Find a cheap cd tower and mount it sideways to the wall! Could also be used in an entryway for mail sorting, or a cute way to store cooking utensils in a kitchen with limited drawer space. Possibilities are endless!

There you go! There's probably a billion more tips out there, and I'm sure I'll be adding more in posts to come. Let me know if you used any of them, and again, if you have any to add, leave them in the comments!

Lots of love,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Morning Ramblings

Ugh... I am NOT a morning person... my children, however, are a different story. So, in the interest of allowing you to get to know me a bit better, I figured I'd occasionally add these little morning ramblings for your pleasure. :D There's no predicting where my mind will wander or what will come out of my fingers, so please forgive me for any obvious idiocy.

To start, my little blurb tells you I'm Mommy and Goddess to four kids. What it doesn't tell you is that I apparently have two sets of what is known as Irish Twins... the boys, Alex and Nick, are 9 and 8 respectively, making them 11 months apart. Then there's the girls, Shaylee and Gianna (Gigi). They're 3 and 2, making them 10 months apart. Yes... insanity runs in my family... Anyway, people always tell me when they find out how old the kids are that they're Irish Twins. I have no idea why. Does anyone know?

What all this means is that my life is a crazy-beautiful-hectic-scream inducing mess at times. But I wouldn't have it any other way! Dad works, so Mom gets to stay home with the kids, and the dog, the cat, the rabbit, and occasionally a lizard of some sort... and develop wonderful little eye-tics due to sheer boredom and repitition. Out of defense, I became addicted to the Food Network and now own 3 years worth of The Food Network and Rachel Ray magazines. I started to experiment in the kitchen, and at first... well, let's just say hazmat suits may have been involved, but the government has sworn me to secrecy so I can't say anything more about it. Over time, however, I grew more comfortable and realized that I had a little bit of talent, especially with baking!

I'm far from the stage where I can create my own recipe or whip up a five course gourmet meal in an hour, but I'm slowly coming into my own, tweaking recipes here and there and trying new things. So, on this blogging journal, I'll be trying new recipes from all over the place. Magazines, Pinterest, and even reader suggestions! I'll make them and post the results here, and you'll be able to see the results from an everyday, average mom who's not a whiz in the kitchen.

I've also discovered a fascination with the DIY/Crafts boards on Pinterest, so I may be posting projects from there as well. There will be a little bit of everything... maybe even some cries for help on potty training an ALMOST FOUR YEAR OLD who REFUSES to use the potty... not even in pull ups! My boys were so much easier to potty train...

I will TRY to take a photo step-by-step of each recipe, Pioneer Woman-style, but just know that among the many things I am, photographer is not one of them. There might be pictures, but they may not be pretty... and may involve various pets and/or children. In addition to this, there may be some recipes that don't have photos, due to me being an airhead and not taking them, or my house is a mess and I don't want everyone to see the mountain of dirty dishes in the sink... I'll try to limit these. :p

Well, that's it for this post. I hope you're all having a great morning! I'm on my third cup of coffee and my fourth snuggle with a random girl child, so mine is shaping up to be a good one. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback from you readers, or recipes that you've been wanting to try but don't want to spend money on... I'll test them out for you! I'll leave you with this thought...

Lots of love,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flutter Cups

I love my kids... I say that with utmost sincerity and just a leeeeetle bit of eye twitching. But can someone, for the love of Pete, please explain to me why they want the biggest, most overly decorated, cardboard-flavored and frosted with 10 pounds of sugar, most expensive birthday cake they can find? For the boys, it was Transformers, for the girls it was Disney Princesses or Tinkerbell. Not that there's anything wrong with any of them, but stick a plastic robot or a dancing princess on top of a cake, slap it with a logo, and the price suddenly goes up twenty bucks. I'd just like my kids to have a little more integrity, people... and a cheaper outlook on life wouldn't hurt.

In any case, that's how I came up with these little beauties for my daughter Shay's 3rd birthday. They were sparkly, they were cute, and best of all, they were cheap! She loved them, and so did I. The stenciling was a bit time consuming, but it was well worth it. 24 Flutter Cups cost me around 10 bucks, and her eyes lit up like Christmas morning when she saw them.

WARNING~ They are -almost- too pretty to eat! :-)

Flutter Cups

1 box of your favorite cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Devil Food Moist Deluxe, my personal fave)
1 tub of your favorite icing ( Duncan Hines, again, whipped cream cheese)
1 bag white chocolate chips
Vegetable oil
Colored sugar
Wax paper
Butterfly wing templates
Make the cake mix according to the box directions. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake accordingly. While the cupcakes are baking, grab your waxpaper and cut one six inch square per cupcake.
As for the templates, I used these, which can be found here:
Mix one cup of the chocolate chips with 1/4 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a glass bowl or measuring cup. Melt in the microwave in ten second intervals, stirring between each cycle, until the chocolate is smooth. Pour it into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with a small corner snipped off, which is what I did. You may have to experiment with how big a hole to make, as you want the line of chocolate to be thin but not easily breakable. If you use a pastry bag, I'd recomend a fairly small tip.
Let the chocolate sit a bit, until it's less runny, but still easy to squeeze out. Grap a wax paper square and lay it over your chosen template. Pipe the chocolate out, tracing along the design, like this!
Now, before the chocolate hardens, quickly cover it with your sugar. I did experiment with this a little, and I found that the finer sugars work better than sprinkles or coarser grained sugars. In any case, this is what it should look like:
Now it's just a matter of letting the chocolate cool. It will harden and easily peel off the wax paper!
Hopefully, you didn't forget the cupcakes. :p Once they've been frosted, you can add the wings. I found that if you cut two small slits in the tops of the cupcakes, you can sort of push the wings in a bit to help them sit up. Here's the end result...
P.S. The original recipe called for jelly beans for the body... I didn't have any on hand, so I just melted milk chocolate chips the same way as the white ones and piped out little bodies. And the rainbow sugar on this one was actually just me taking all the leftover sugar from the solid color wings and mixing it together... :p
Hope you like them!