My version of the Hersey's Black Out Candy Bar Cake...

As I have probably mentioned, I am a far cry from a "baker." When the urge strikes to bake I do what I do when I need inspiration for home decor...I hit the internet.

I found this AMAZING cake recipe here...and while it may appear somewhat intimidating, I promise, if I can do it, you can do it! (I won't post the entire recipe...just follow the link!)

My daughter-in-law, Taylor, is our "special needs" child! We jokingly call her that because she has to be gluten-free for health reasons, so I have had to make several adjustments to my cooking and baking routine during our weekly Sunday dinners. 

The only REAL adjustment has been the use of gluten free flour (I order this from Amazon...a tad more expensive than regular flour but she is worth it!) Not a huge deal but I have found that it tastes a tad "different" than regular flour in most baked goods so I try to find recipes with lots of sugar and chocolate and not as much flour.

This cake fit the bill! Tons of sugar and chocolate and honestly, I think you could smear chocolate butter cream icing on a rock and it would taste good! Add in the layer of chocolate cheese cake and you have a winner in our house!

This is my cake...


Obviously my presentation is not near as "perfect" as Danielle's, but trust me it tastes just as good!

OH MY GOSH!!!! Seriously, this cake really is amazing!

If you don't have to worry about the gluten issue, you could even use a box cake.

That being said, I don't think you can buy an icing that is as rich and delicious as homemade buttercream icing. And you can make buttercream any flavor you like...vanilla, lemon, chocolate, peanut butter...the options are endless and the homemade icing takes your cake to a whole new level of amazing!

Not a simple recipe, but definitely one you want to put on the menu for your next family gathering!

Strawberry cake...

Matt’s girlfriend, Hannah, found out last week she got the job she wanted at a new school!

YIPPEE! A reason to celebrate!

We asked her what her favorite cake is…strawberry.

Hum…my Grandmother’s Lemon Cake is TOO DIE FOR and I got to thinking…why couldn’t I substitute strawberry cake for the yellow cake and strawberry jello for the lemon jello and make a strawberry cake TOO DIE FOR…and guess what…I did and IT WAS AMAZING!!!! (less the lemon/powdered sugar “glaze”)

I found a recipe for strawberry butter cream icing

1 cup fresh strawberries

1 cup butter, softened

3 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar, sifted, divided

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth. (Strain to remove the seeds, if desired.) Transfer strawberry puree to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often, until the puree is reduced by at least half, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Beat butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat 1 cup powdered sugar into the butter until just blended.

Beat 2 tablespoons strawberry puree and vanilla extract into the butter mixture until just combined. Repeat with 1 cup powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons strawberry puree 2 more times. Beat the last 1/2 cup powdered sugar into the frosting until just blended.

Butter cream icing is my favorite…whether vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry…SO much better than the store bought stuff!

Chocolate covered strawberries…a treat all on it’s own especially this time of year when strawberries are in season.

I have a “gluten free” daughter in law so it is one of our favorites.

I use Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips…but there is a trick to melting it! Microwave 1/2 bag in a glass bowl for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave again for 30 seconds and stir again…keep doing this until the chocolate is melted. Usually 3-4 30 second rounds. It is important to do this slowly and carefully or you will end up with a chalky wad of chocolate that I haven’t found a way to salvage.

After the chocolate is melted, I dip the strawberries (washed and dried)` in the chocolate and lay them on a cookie sheet covered in wax or parchment paper…then refrigerate until the chocolate is firm again…usually a few hours.

I had a little bit of chocolate left over so I spread it on parchment paper, let it harden in the fridge and then broke it into “shards.”

Another super simple dessert that is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!

I am mulling over all the possibilities now for jello infused cake…Blueberry? Cherry? Pineapple?

The possibilities are endless!!!!

Simple Pot Roast

I am a "pot roast queen." I make a meeeean pot roast. When I had two growing, hungry boys it was a "once a week" staple. Brian loves it and it is his special birthday dinner every year.

I found a new pot roast recipe recently and decided to give it a try. I have NO idea where I got it...probably off Facebook. I saw it and printed it. Typical.

I really should pay more attention so I can give proper credit!

Getting me to deviate from a "tried and true" dish is a real challenge...but I have forced myself to experiment a little just to get out of my 30 year!

This recipe was worth it. SOOOOO simple! The recipe said to cook it in the crock pot for 8 hours on low, but it was more than done after 6 hours! 

Put one 1 Pot Roast in the crock pot...seriously, the cheapest pot roast you can find will work! (Who doesn't love a good recipe for inexpensive cuts of meat these days!)

Sprinkle a package of Hidden Valley ranch dressing and McCormick Au Jus mix on top.

Put a stick of butter on top.

Put about 5 pepperoncini peppers on top (I didn't have was still good!)

Do NOT add water!

Cook on low for 8 hours (again, it was more than done after 6)

I made gravy with the juices. Put it over wild rice.


You could serve with noodles, rice or potatoes. Throw in a salad or veggie.

SOOOOO simple.

Just my kind of meal! 


The PERFECT steak!

Are you looking for the PERFECT steak? I found it...and I thought I had posted this recipe a long time ago but I guess I just "pinned" it! (Thank goodness for Pinterest...again! This was my 1st pin!)

I always grilled our steaks and I would have sworn up and down it was the BEST way to cook a perfect steak. 

I was wrong. (Not the first time!)

The "Pin" led me to this site. Amuse Bouche. Just in case this site disappears, here is a recap!

(I only use garlic, lemon, salt and pepper in my compound butter...I just zap the butter for about 30 seconds, mix in my seasoning and then stick it in the fridge to harden up a bit. As always, I tried the recipe and then tweeked it to my taste! I have used this method on ribeye steaks and it is just as good...just don't cook the steaks as long in the oven if they are thinner than filets! Also, I always let my steaks get to room temperature before cooking.)

Restaurant Style Filet Mignon

By Whitney



DISCLAIMER: The reason this dish is so amazing is due mostly in part to having the very best, most fresh ingredients possible.  That means high grade salt, it means pepper ground right in front of you by a pepper mill.  It means fresh herbs and it means REAL BUTTER.  The good news is that these are all things you should already have in your house. Take 1/2 stick of butter, softened, and mix well with the peeled, chopped garlic, the chopped herbs, and the lemon zest.  Form into a log and refrigerate.  Generously season the filet's with salt and pepper, approximately 1 teaspoon of seasoning per side. Heat the remainder of the butter (1/2 stick) and the olive oil in a cast iron skillet to a screaming hot temperature.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.   Sear the filets in a screaming hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust has formed. While the steak is searing, continue to spoon the residual butter in the pan on top of the meat while it's cooking.  Once both sides are seared, place in the center of the oven for about 6-8 minutes, depending upon how thick your steak is.  In the last minute of cooking, take the log of compound butter and slice a nice thick piece to place on top. Your steak will be ready when it is approximately 135 degrees in the center, or when you push lightly on the top center of the steak and it gently and slowly bounces back.  (Note, this is medium rare kids. Some people don't like to eat cows while they are mooing, so clearly you can cook longer if your afraid of the pink.)

There you have it...the PERFECT steak!

I'm sure the men in your life are growling at you and telling you how WRONG I am. 

Trust me...they know not of what they speak!

BTW, if you don't have an iron skillet, you can pick up wonderfully seasoned iron skillets at just about any flea market and Amazon carries "pre-seasoned" skillets! Definitely worth the money if you don't have one!


"GO TO" family casserole!

Soooo easy...and it can be made as a side dish or you can throw in some chicken or pork and your favorite veggies, and make it a "meal-in-one."  I love meals that have everything in ONE dish!

1 lb bag of hash brown potatoes  (I take them out of the freezer and let them thaw a bit...easier to mix)

1 can of cream of mushroom

1 can of cream of celery OR cream of chicken...whichever you like

1 cup of sour cream

2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)

1 stick of butter  (notice I said BUTTER...NOT margarine...since my daughter told me margarine is one molecule away from plastic, I just can't eat it anymore...besides butter is soooo yummy! I coupon and I buy the generic brands of some stuff...I can splurge on butter)

Salt/pepper/season to taste!

Mix it all together.  Put it in a casserole dish.  Bake on 350 for about an hour, or until brown and bubbly.  Again, you can add chicken/pork and veggies to make a "meal in one."

Easy...and it is one of my kids favorites....and for those picky kids, it is a great place to hide veggies!!!