The First Meal

On Sunday a question was posed for an “ice-breaker” for each table to talk about. The question was “when did you know that your spouse was “the one”

It was a question I could answer very easily. And it was fun to reminisce about it with friends.  I also thought it might be a fun topic to ask my blog readers to answer – so feel free to write up your blog post and tell me where to go read it!

Here is our story:

We had been “officially dating” for about a week – but we had been talking pretty much every day for around 6 months.  We had spent the day before (Thanksgiving) meeting each others families and sharing lunch/dinner with the other’s families.  We had planned to spend the day together and not really do much.  The day started very early with me meeting Brian at a tire shop so he could drop his truck off to get new tires. We then went back to his house and watched an episode of Extreme Home Makeover that was filmed in the town he grew up in.   I honestly don’t remember much about that day with the exception of the first meal he made me, being goofy in front of a guy – and him liking that side of me, having chinese food for dinner, falling asleep cuddled up on the couch watching Back to the Future together, and what I was wearing that day (a pink peasant type top, and very light colored jeans.)  The day was just a normal, nothing special type of day.  But I knew that day I was falling in love with him, and that this relationship was going to go places.

I want to focus on the first meal that he made me just for a second – because I really think that this is what he used to live on before I came into the picture – even though I found out that he is actually a pretty good cook!

He made me Velveeta Shells and Cheese and we had a Snack-Pack chocolate pudding for dessert.

And it was delicious!  He has actually made me plenty of delicious dinners since then, but I still hold both of those things close to my heart.

Ok, it’s your turn – how did you know that your spouse was “the one”?

Make it a GRATE Day!



Banana Bread

I love a good piece of Banana Bread – don’t you? Well, unless I’m talking to my husband, but I already knew he was a little weird!  This recipe is one of my favorites to make. It always comes out really delicious.

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread



1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup plus 2 TBS sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed

2 TBS creme fraiche or sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)



1. Set oven to 350′. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray)

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

3. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream, and vanilla.

4. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts.

5. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour


My Notes:

* This last time I made this recipe I accidentally forgot the sugar until after I poured it into the loaf pan – thankfully I remembered and was able to pour it back into the bowl and mix the sugar in.  Bread turned out great!

* I made one loaf of bread out of the above recipe. It took 1 hr and 40 minutes to fully cook.  I checked it every 10 minutes after the first hour.

* You can make 42 muffins using 1/3 cup of batter in each cup. I used Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream and each muffin is 194 calories.

* I don’t care for nuts in my bread, so I leave them out.

* My friend Priscilla just recently told me about this trick, and it WORKS – try it out!  When you take your bread out of the oven take it out of the pan and only let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then wrap tightly in foil – yes, while it’s still hot. Do not put in a ziplock bag.  It will keep the bread moist and delicious – no need for slathering it with butter!


Make it a GRATE day!



Strawberry Coconut Tres Leches Trifle

This trifle is the perfect dessert for a hot summers day. It’s light and refreshing! I love that this recipe uses ALL of each ingredient called for. You won’t have 1/2 a can of (fill in the blank) left over at the end.  This recipe can be thrown together in under 30 minutes and it is great to make early in the day and served at dinner.

Personally I LOVE my Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl – it comes apart and has a lid for easy traveling. But any trifle bowl will work just fine.

This original recipe can be found in The Pampered Chef’s Spring Summer 2010 Season’s Best Recipe Collection.

Strawberry Coconut Tres Leches Trifle



1 lb fresh strawberries

3 pkg 3 0z each Soft Lady Fingers or 1 Family Size Pound Cake

1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 can (14 oz) Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1 8oz container sour cream

1 pkg (3.3oz) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1 tsp Korintje Cinnamon


1. Set aside one (or three!) large strawberries for garnish later on.  Remove green stem from strawberry and slice the rest of the strawberries – I used my egg slicer again!


2. Cut lady fingers into 1 inch pieces OR if you’re going to use pound cake (like I did, and what I prefer) You will want to slice the pound cake long ways in half




Then Cut it into strips – I usually get about 4 strips out of the loaf


Then cut it into cubes


3, Whisk together 1/2 cup of condensed milk, 2/3 cup of the coocnut milk and the 8 oz of sour cream.



4. Add Lady Fingers or Pound Cake into above mixture and GENTLY toss – just enough to coat.




5. Attach open star tip to Easy Accent Decorator and fill with 1 cup of the whipped topping. DSC_0926

6. Combine pudding mix, remaining coconut milk, remaining sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon



7. Gently fold in the remaining whipped topping – until just mixed. DO NOT OVER MIX.





Add about 1/2 of the lady finger/pound cake mixture to the bottom of your trifle bowl.



Then add about 1/2 of the strawberries. You can get creative if you’d like to and line them up around the bowl and make it pretty, but I usually don’t.


Then take 1/2 of the pudding mixture and pour it over the berries.


Repeat layers.  Smooth top as much as you can.



9. Take your Easy Accent Decorator and draw lines across the top of your trifle – usually about 4-5 and then turn 1/2 way and draw lines going the other way.




You’re going to top it with a sliced strawberry or three! Here’s how you do it:


Take your egg slicer and have your strawberry stand on it’s end


SLOWLY start slicing the strawberry – DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH


At this point you will gently push the strawberry back towards the white part of your slicer or away from the wires.


Then you will have a strawberry with cuts in it. You will gently twist the strawberry with your fingers until it fans out.


And there you have it – a SIMPLE gorgeous easy dessert that is a crowd pleaser!


Make it a GRATE Day!



Strawberry Shortcake….my mom’s way…..sort of

Growing up one of my favorite desserts was Strawberry Shortcake. I loved the strawberries and the sweet red juice all soaked into a biscuit…..wait, you’ve never had strawberry shortcake with a BISCUIT?  Can I tell you a secret? I didn’t know strawberry shortcake was anything different until I went to college – only then did I find out that people use pound cake or angel food cake as a base and then they top it with whipped cream….oh my.  So since we had an over abundance of biscuits left over from the biscuits and gravy I made the other day I decided to make up some strawberry shortcake.  Obviously this is such a simple dessert, but one that is just delicious!  Since my mom’s shortcake was a little different – I thought I would share how she used to make it – along with my additions!


1. Slice strawberries – or just chunk them in half


2. Sweeten with sugar (my mom didn’t do this!) I usually use 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar – depending on how many strawberries I am using.


3. Smash your strawberries – you can use a potato masher, but I love to use my Mix n’ Chop – you want to smash them until there is a bunch of juice and the strawberries are smaller chunks.


4. At this point you can use them, but I like to let them sit for a few hours in the fridge.

5. When ready to use break up some biscuits in a bowl (for a great biscuit recipe click here!)


Pour some strawberries over the biscuits


And top with whipped cream (something my mom didn’t do!)




Yes, yes, I know – simple. But sometimes I think we need to remember that everything we put on the table doesn’t need to be hours upon hours of  hard work in order to taste good.

What’s your favorite easy dessert?

Make it a GRATE day!



Pie Update

So I re-made that amazing four berry pie. I knew it only needed a few tweeks to make it a million times better, and it did.  So here are my updates to that recipe – but if you’re looking for the true Achatz Pie – the following recipe is close, but isn’t perfect.  If you’re super picky you would be better off heading to one of their many locations and enjoying a little slice of heaven.

Thankfully my husband thought it was great and very much enjoyed it.  So here are my changes.



2 1/2 cups pastry flour

2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup butter COLD, cut into chunks

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup COLD water – I get a glass full of ice and fill it with water as I am getting everything else ready so it’s SUPER cold when I need it)

Directions for dough:  

1. Mix flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add butter and shortening – I placed these in my food processor and let it do the work, but if you want to do it by hand that’s ok too!  Mix until combined and crumbly

2. Add cold water and mix again. Until dough forms – do not over mix.

3.  Press dough into a fat round circle, place in bowl, cover and place in refrigerator for at least an hour – I usually make my dough in the morning and finish my pie a little later on – so it’s usually in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Ingredients for filling:

1 1/2 cups tart cherries (I used frozen since I couldn’t find fresh)

1 1/2 cups raspberries

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 cup blackberries

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca granules

4 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions for filling:

**Pre-heat oven to 350′ **

4. Mix cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, 1 ¼ cups sugar, tapioca granules, corn starch and lemon juice. Place in large pot and heat over medium heat until thickens. You will want to stir until your arm feels like it’s going to fall off – and then stir some more! Don’t let those berries burn!  Remove from heat.



5. Roll out bottom crust. Fill with pie filling. Be careful – that pie filling is HOT HOT HOT!



6.  Roll out top crust and fold into quarters. Vent with a knife while dough is in quarters to make a pretty design. Unfold crust over top of pie.   Cut off remaining dough over-hanging from around the edges of pie with side of fingers or knife. Flute edges to seal.

I decided to be cheesy and make it a little love note to my husband.  Next time I think I will cut out the words once I’ve put the crust on the pie…my heart looks a little weird here


7. Spray top crust with cold water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for browning.

8. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment to catch drippings. Place this sheet on bottom rack; to avoid smoking do not put this sheet directly on bottom of oven.

9. Bake pie at 350 degrees in the center of the oven for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown, you should be able to see the filling bubbling from your vents.

10. You want to let this pie cool for a few hours before serving – trust me, it’s worth the wait!



Notice the filling isn’t sitting in juice or falling out of the crust too badly? This is the way this pie should look.




Now if I could only figure out the original crumb topping, I might be right on target with this pie!  Let me know if you decide to try it.

Original pie recipe can be found here, although I don’t recommend trying it the way it’s written.  My first blog post about this pie can be found here.

Make it a GRATE day!



Kiwi-Lime Dessert Cups

When it starts getting hot outside don’t you just love something light and refreshing? Well look no farther.  These dessert cups will be a hit for any gathering that you need to attend or even just for your own family! I always get rave reviews whenever I take them anywhere.

This recipe is from The Pampered Chef Season’s Best Recipe Collection Spring/Summer 2010

Kiwi-Lime Dessert Cups


non-stick cooking spray with flour

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted & divided *

1 – 24 count package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 lime

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp powdered sugar

1 drop green food coloring

2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping

1 cup fresh strawberries

2 medium kiwi, peeled.

*to toast almonds – put them in a dry saute pan and cook on medium until brown – watch them, and stir often – you will know they are done when you can smell them 🙂 Don’t let them burn or you will need to start all over!


1. Pre-heat oven to 350′. Spray cups of a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour.  Set aside 2 tbsp of the almonds. Finely chop remaining almonds using a food chopper.  Place chopped almonds into a small bowl.




2. Dip cookie balls into the chopped almonds – coat evenly.  Place into mini-muffin pan; bake for 9-15 minutes (depending on your oven, you want them to be light golden brown) Cookies will form their own “cup.” Cool in pan 3-5 minutes; remove cups and place on a cooling rack.



3. Meanwhile, zest lime using Microplane Zester to measure 1 tsp (I usually just do the entire lime) Juice lime with a Citrus Press to measure 1 tbsp (again, I usually just do the entire lime.) Combine zest, juice, cream cheese, powdered sugar and food coloring in Batter Bowl; whisk until smooth.  Add whipped topping; mix until stiff.  Spoon mixture into a large resealable plastic bag; set aside.  Slice strawberries and kiwis (maybe you could use your egg slicer!) cut kiwi in half.

(I totally forgot to take pictures of those ^^ instructions – but here is the bag after I’ve filled the cups….oops!)


4. To assemble, trim corner of bag; pipe filling evenly into cups. Top with Strawberries, kiwi and reserved almonds. (I have used sliced almonds and stuck 3-4 of them in each cup – this time I had extra chopped almonds left over so I just used them, and I think I actually like the look of the chopped better)





Yields 24

Cooks Tip: The filling may appear curdled when mixing in the whipped topping; continue mixing until filling appears smooth again.

Let me know if you decide to make these! They are YUMMY!

Make it a GRATE Day!



Pie and Pinwheels

Remember when I told you that I’m a horrible wife since I never make my husband his favorite dessert? Well, I decided to remedy that since tomorrow is his birthday!

My husband grew up in a small town in Michigan. In this sweet little town there is an amazing pie shop (that has grown to be all over Michigan) that makes the best berry pie that I have ever had – and well it ends up to be Brian’s favorite.  A few years ago they took second place on Good Morning America for this pie and they shared the recipe for the pie – YAY right? Wrong….

I was very tempted to skip today’s post because of this pie failure, but since I’ve somehow gotten this reputation for being an amazing chef and nothing that ever leaves my kitchen is bad, I thought I needed to do this!  But be watching for an update to this pie recipe, because trust me – you DO NOT want to make the recipe I followed.

here goes!

Recipe that I followed can be found here.

I just learned how to make pie crust in my food processor – why did I not know about this before? It makes it SO easy.

I will say that the pie crust recipe that is posted with this pie was very good – so if you want to use it, do so!



This is what the ingredients look like BEFORE you add the water.Image

This is where I first noticed that this recipe might be a little off – it says not to mix the above mixture with the water – just to let it sit together in the fridge. I didn’t do that, partly because I didn’t read the directions in full, and because it didn’t seem “natural”

I made two pies at the same time – so this first batch is the one that I didn’t mix “as much”Image

Here is the dough that I mixed up more and I liked the look of it better – it also “felt” better. Image

I made up the dough in the morning and came and finished the pie later that afternoon.

Here are the berries I used – gorgeous no? ImageImage

All the ingredients that go into the berry mixture – this is where I should have had an alarm go off in my head. This mixture needed to be cooked down into a pie filling – NOT thrown into a pie shell…trust me on this one.


The pie crust needed to be kneaded a little bit before I could roll it out – don’t forget the extra flour so your dough doesn’t stick to the pastry mat.

Speaking of a Pastry Mat – why in the world did I wait so long to purchase one? They are freaking amazing!  I think I’ve heard bad things about them in the past because people were talking about the paper ones that were laminated – well I purchased this one, and it’s awesome!! It’s a very thick silicone and cleans up super easy! I bet it would be fun for playdough as well! Image

I loved being able to roll out my dough to the proper size – something I’ve always had to guess at….Have I told you how much Iove this mat yet?


Since I needed both hands to move the crust from the mat to the pie plate I don’t have a picture of that – but the easiest way to do it is to use your rolling pin. Start by peeling an edge of your crust and place it over your rolling pin, you can lightly roll the crust onto the pin and then quickly transfer to a greased pie plate.


If you rolled your dough a little to big you will want to trim your edges a bit to fit your plate. Image

Again, I should have had a lightbulb go off in my head before placing these berries into an uncooked pie shell….we’ll see how cooking it down works later today or tomorrow. Image


Again – knowing how amazing the Michigan Four Berry Pie is – and knowing it has a CRUMB topping – this recipe calls for a top crust…. so I followed the recipe knowing it was wrong at this point.

So I rolled out the rest of the dough folded it into quarters and I decided to do a tear drop shape so that the pie could vent.  I really would have loved to have this pretty little pie bird that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. Image


So at this point you want to attach the bottom crust to the top crust. I tend to go around and squeeze them together and then place a design on later.



Here is my crimping for the pie crust – again since I needed both hands to do this I  couldn’t get a picture of it.



I then used a spray bottle and sprayed some water on the top of the crust and then sprinkled sugar on the top – looks pretty huh! Image

The finished product – it’s so pretty right now! Image


So then we took the pie to our small group last night – when we got there the top crust turned all pink from all the juice in the pie….it was SO NOT PRETTY anymore…I wanted to cry.  The inside was not like pie filling and well….the juice was everywhere. Lets just say it was a MESS! Image

Thankfully it still tasted ok – but it was NOT what I was going for… all. ImageImage

So watch for an upcoming post about fixing this recipe!

So when I was little my mom would make what we called “Pinwheels” with the left over pie dough.  So I thought I would share that recipe with you all too! Thankfully this is a no brain-er, and you can’t ruin it!

1. Roll out your left over pie crust

2. Sprinkle Sugar and Cinnamon all over it (shown here with just sugar) You can also do any other seasonings that you want to. This time I used a Sprinkle from The Pampered Chef – and it was fantastic!  (sadly they don’t sell these sprinkles anymore…sorry!)


3. Roll the dough up into a “log” Image

4. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces. If you’re using this pastry mat, you will want to use a butter knife – and not a sharp knife!


5. Place pinwheels in a greased pan Image

6. Cook in a 350′ oven for 20-30 minutes depending on if you want them soft or crispy. Image

7. Enjoy!

So there you have it – yes, sometimes “peculiar” things come out of my kitchen, and even when I follow a recipe exactly something “peculiar” can still come out of it!

Be watching for an update soon!

Make it a GRATE day!



Blueberry Pie Bars

Pie is my husbands favorite dessert. Sadly, I don’t know that I’ve ever made him one….bad wife confession!  I have purchased him pies, does that redeem me at all?   Well I saw this recipe and thought that it would be pretty easy, AND I had a great cause to make it – our weekly small group!   Needless to say these bars went over VERY well, and we didn’t come home with too many leftovers.  Brian very much liked them.  YAY!


Blueberry Pie Bars

Crust & Topping:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled.


2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup greek yogurt

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp almond extract

16 oz fresh blueberries


1.Heat oven to 350′. Grease an 8×8 – inch pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. For the crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly.

3. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping; set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

4. For the filling: whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add the sugar, yogurt, flour and almond extract.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Spoon the filling over the crust and sprinkle the reserved topping mixture evenly over the filling.

5. Bake 45-55 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.  Cool 1 hour before cutting and serving, or serve out of pan cobbler style.

Yield: 16 bars


This recipe was adapted from Life’s Simple Measures .

Hope you enjoy!

Make it s GRATE day!



Better than……(you know what)…..Cake 2

I made this cake recently for a function that we attended that shall remain unnamed (ok ok it was a CHURCH function! Shh…don’t tell ok!)  It’s from the Point of Grace’s “Cooking with Grace” cookbook. It was really good – the only thing “I” would change is to melt the chocolate chips – I wasn’t crazy about that “crunch” in the middle of an ooey gooey cake mixture!  But Brian really liked it that way….so it’s up to you!



18.5 oz German chocolate Cake mix – (I used a double fudge chocolate cake mix)
**You also want the ingredients on the back of the cake mix**
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup caramel sundae topping (or the whole jar if you forget to read the instructions…like me lol)
12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed (or 16 to finish up the carton lol)
3 Heath Bars, crushed (or just buy the already crushed up bag of heath bars located near the chocolate chips at your local grocery store)

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Grease and flour 9×13 pan (I didn’t flour it – I used the Pam spray with flour in it)
3. Prepare cake mix and directed on package, pour into prepared pan
4. after 10 minutes of baking, remove cake from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips
5. return to oven and continue to bake until cake is done
6. while cake is still hot use the end of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the top of the cake.
7. pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
8. Let cool completely
9. Top with caramel sauce, then whipped topping
10. sprinkle with candy pieces

Better Than... cake 2

Keep cake refrigerated. It gets better the next day! Enjoy!!  Serves 12-15

I made this 2 days before we were going to eat it – and it was fantastic!!

Better Than... cake 1 (1)


Make it a GRATE Day!