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Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Are you already hard at work in your kitchen this morning??

Take a deep breath.  Have a cup of coffee.  Remember that today is about being with loved ones and giving thanks.

Today is also about consuming yummy goodness.

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding

Recipe from Michael Symon


pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
6 cups day-old bread cut into cubes
1 cup toasted pecans
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325.

In a bowl, combine the salt, cream, pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, and spices.  Set bowl aside.

In another bowl, toss the bread cubes and pecans together with the melted butter.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Add pumpkin mixture to the bread.  Toss to coat.

Transfer to a 9×9 inch square baking dish.  Bake until set,  about 45 minutes.

This bread pudding is good hot or cold!  You can serve it by itself or with a side of ice cream or cool whip.

Now, stop reading food blogs on Thanksgiving and go give your loved ones a hug!!!


Spicy Sausage Stuffing

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My Mom & I were at Target a few weeks ago.  She was saying that it’s too bad that stores skip straight from Halloween to Christmas.  She was in search of some new Thanksgiving home decor and was coming up empty.  All we could find was this paper mache turkey in the party supply aisle.

I jumped on the bandwagon with her.  People shouldn’t turn on Christmas lights until Thanksgiving night at the earliest!!  No Christmas tree to be put up until Thanksgiving night at the earliest!!  No Christmas shopping until Black Friday!!  I was passionate about it.

And then I remembered that I’ve been listening to Michael Buble’s new Christmas CD for weeks.

There’s always an exception to the rule.

I’m making an exception to the rule for Thanksgiving.  We always have Stove Top stuffing for Thanksgiving.  Now, Stove Top is freaking delicious!  Don’t get me wrong!!  But when I saw the recipe for Emeril’s spicy sausage stuffing, I was sold!!  I’m sure my Dad isn’t too pleased with my decision.  He probably has a back-up box of Stove Top waiting in the cupboard just in case.

If you like Stove Top, plus meat, plus that Emeril BAM kick….you’ll heart this stuffing!!!

Spicy Sausage Stuffing

Recipe from Emeril Lagasse


3 tablespoons EVOO
4 cups milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 eggs
12 cups cubes day old white bread
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 pound ground beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with EVOO.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, chicken broth, and eggs.  Add cubes of bread, mix well.  Set aside until mix is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large skillet on medium-high heat, cook sausage and ground beef.  Break meat apart with a spoon until browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, celery, green bell pepper, onion, salt, red pepper, and black pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Transfer meat mixture to your bowl with the bread.  Add parsley.  Stir to combine.

Transfer to your prepared baking dish.  Spread out evenly.  Bake until golden brown on top, about an hour.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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I completely forgot to tell you about the AWESOME thing that I did last Thursday.

My friend, Amy, and I went to the movie theater for a Twilight MARATHON.  We watched Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn Part 1.  We were there from about 3:30 pm until Breaking Dawn ended at about 2:30 am!!!  It was packed with other crazy ladies/girls like ourselves…..and a handful of dudes…and a toddler?!  Weird.

I was worried that I would be too tired to make it through.  9:30 pm and I’m usually drooling in bed.  But the time went pretty fast.  There was a 30 minute break between movies, which was nice.  And there’s a bar and a diner in the movie theater.

So, it was:

–go to the bar for a drink
New Moon
–go to the diner for dinner
–squeal and try to contain excitement for Breaking Dawn
Breaking Dawn
–wait in the parking lot FOREVER to leave
–fall into bed from 3 am to 8 am

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Recipe from RecipeGirl


For the cookies:

2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the rolling sugar:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice


In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy in your mixer.  Add in your sugars and pumpkin puree and beat well.  Mix in your egg and vanilla extract.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture a little at a time into your wet ingredients, mixing at you go.

Cover your dough with plastic wrap.  Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together your rolling sugar ingredients.

Remove dough from the refrigerator.  Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and roll into balls.  Roll the balls in the prepared sugar.  Coat them well.  Place rolled dough onto your cookie sheets.  Flatten your dough with the bottom of a glass or other flat surface.  Sprinkle some more sugar on top of cookie dough.

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes.  Remove cookies and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*Note:  this cookies are more of a cakey texture.  The pumpkin is subtle and it’s not a traditional snickerdoodle.  They are a great cookie to go along with a cup of coffee or a cup of afternoon tea.  These cookies also freeze very well!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

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If you had to pick, what would you pick as your favorite TV ever??

I choose Friends!!!

And yesterday, there was a Friends marathon on TBS.  So, you know what I did yesterday…..watched about 12 episodes of Friends.  (I cleaned, did laundry, and caught up on blogs too during this time!!)

My favorite episode is the Thanksgiving episode where Monica puts the turkey on her head.


And Rachel makes the trifle with meat.

“What’s not to like??  Custard, good.  Jam, good.  Meat, good!”

While watching Friends, I did not try my hand at making a trifle.  But I did make cream cheese swirl brownies.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Recipe from Jane and Lorraine

Yields:  12 brownies


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
8 ounces of cream cheese


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick spray and set it aside.
In a small bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup of sugar until crumbly.  Beat in one whole egg, one egg white and vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and cocoa.  Gradually add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until blended.  Pour into your baking pan and set it aside.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.  Beat in your second egg white.
Drop by tablespoonfuls over the brownie batter.  Drag a knife through the batters to make a swirl pattern.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow brownies to cool before enjoying.
With the cream cheese swirl, I think these brownies are best served after chilling in the refrigerator!

Restaurant Review: Larkspur Bistro & Bar

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If you’re a food blogger, do you write your posts right away?  Or do pictures sit around FOREVER until you finally post?  For me, it’s very hit or miss.  Sometimes, I’m very disciplined and post the next day after I go somewhere or bake some sugary goodness.

And sometimes, I forgot that I have pictures from a restaurant on my cell phone from…oh months & months ago.

I not-so-recently went to Larkspur Bistro & Bar with my friend, Angela.  Larkspur is one of my favorite restaurants in Wichita.  Great ambiance and a good spot to linger with a friend (or date) over a bottle of wine.

Does anyone else take a picture of their wine to remind them later that they liked it?  It comes in handy when you’re at the liquor store and need to remember what you like.

When at Larkspur, I always get the chicken pistachio.  It is so good with that cream cheese sauce.

For our sides, we split the fresh asparagus and Yucatan fried potatoes.

Why don’t more restaurants serve fried potatoes??  They were delicious!!!

Finding these pictures on my cell is making me crave some Larkspur!  And wine….


Weekend Ramblings

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1.  I need this cookbook.


2.  Do families like the Braverman’s really exist??  And if so, can I marry into one of these families?

3.  I recently had my best self-serve froyo concoction yet at CherryBerry.  It was spiced apple pie frozen yogurt plus dulce de leche frozen yogurt topped with some granola & butterscotch chips.  I died!

4.  I’m behind of my magazine reading, so that’s on tap for today.

5.  I had Golden Grahams for breakfast.

Classy deliciousness.

Fudge Crinkle Cookies

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I went to see the movie, Margin Call.  Have you heard of Margin Call?  Yeah, I hadn’t until the day before I agreed to see the movie.  I only watched 1/2 of the trailer online ahead of time.  What could go wrong?  Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, that guy from Heroes, that guy married to Jennifer Connelly, and that guy from Gossip Girl…..

I found it so BORING!  It’s called a “financial thriller.”  The most thrilling thing was when I noticed that the Gossip Girl guy’s character was wearing white socks with suit.  White socks with a suit are scary!

Maybe this movie was too smart for me.  It did take me about 40 minutes to figure what MBS were.  They kept saying MBS all the time!!!  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh mortgage backed securities.  I get it, I get it.  Geez, the screenwriter could have just spelled it out a little easier!  I even worked in the mortgage industry for years and I was like, HUH?!

You know what’s EASY to understand?

Fudge Crinkle Cookies!!  I was emailed this recipe recently and it’s so easy!!  I’ve learned to keep boxes of cake mix on hand for these quick wonders too.

Fudge Crinkle Cookies


1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, mix cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla with spoon until dough forms.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar and place balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Restaurant Review: Mike’s Wine Dive

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I recently went to Mike’s Wine Dive with my friend, Amy.  Amy and I first went to Mike’s Wine Dive about a year ago and it was awesome!!!!  She’s been back several times since, but it was just the second time for me.

They have a 13 page menu of wines they offer by the bottle.  It’s intense.  It’s just a one-pager for wines by the glass.  So go when you want to settle in for a while!!

I knew that we’d only be there for a short time.  I ordered a glass of Manifesto Cab Sauv.  I was informed by the waiter that they only offer Manifesto by the bottle now.  Ummm okay, well I’m not paying $35 for a bottle when I can buy a bottle at the liquor store for $16.  And by the way, you still list Manifesto by the glass on your online wine menu, Mike!

I settled on the La Flor de Pulenta instead per the suggestion of my waiter.  It was still very tasty, so no biggie.

On to our appetizer, we ordered the bruschetta topped with basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and Balsamic reduction.

This “bruschetta” was super tasty!  Love love loved the Balsamic reduction on it.  Although, I’ve never had bruschetta with soft hunks of bread like this.  I thought bruschetta was a way to salvage stale bread, no??

Moving on to my entree…..last time, I got the Lobster, Shrimp, and Crab Macaroni & Cheese.  It was excellent that first time I went to Mike’s Wine Dive!

This time, it was pretty ick and very disappointing.  😦  You know when you use crappy cheese and not enough cream….so that the cheese melts into goops of grossness?  Yeah that happened.  :/

Oh goodness!

With the changes in wine and to the quality of the entrees, perhaps that explains why we got a table right away on a busy Friday night.  Also while we were there, a guy’s chair BROKE on him as soon as he sat down.  And he wasn’t a big guy.  (I would have been SO mortified if that happened to me!!  Although would have been nice to get a free meal out of it…)

I looked online after our meal and have found that Mike’s Wine Dive changed management over the past few months.  Well, new manager….get your act together!!!  I would try Mike’s Wine Dive again since my first experience was so good.  But I doubt I’ll risk ordering the Lobster Mac & Cheese again.

The most entertaining part of dinner happened in the restroom after Amy & I ate.  There was the DRUNKEST middle-aged lady in the restroom.  She asked us what we’d ordered to eat and we told her.  Well, that opened the door for her to tell us her life story:

1.  She’s on a date with a guy, but doesn’t know if she likes him.  But she’s been dating him for SIX months.
2.  She’s an admin assistant at an attorney’s office.  And we should come by work some day and visit her.  It’s the attorney’s office with the nice aquarium in the lobby… we should know where it is based on that?!
3.  Her roommate is a contestant on Dancing With the Stars and we should come see her dance!!  Wait what?!  We finally figured out it was just a local Wichita version of it.
4.  Her husband left a couple of years ago after he reunited with an old flame from high school that he found on FACEBOOK!  FB is evil, y’all!
5.  The old flame from high school is now……wait for it…..a professional female wrestler!!!

Ha….oh my goodness.  We were trapped in the bathroom with this lovely nut job for over 10 minutes.  Amy finally had the sense to fake a call on her cell phone and we got out of there.

So…..Mike’s Wine Dive…..great wine selection…..just okay food…..interesting bathroom entertainment.

Weekend Ramblings

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1.  I tried my luck at the casino yesterday since it was 11/11/11.  I lost.  Maybe I’ll try again next year on 12/12/12.

I cashed out with 10 cents left on the machine.  I thought about taking it to the cashier to get my dime.  But I decided that would be too sad.

2.  It took me the whole episode of The Good Wife to recognize where I knew the red-headed attorney from.


It’s Arlene from True Blood!!


She’s way better on The Good Wife.

3.  There’s a 90% chance that I’ll cry anytime I watch Grey’s Anatomy.  This week was no exception.  Henry!!  Come back!!!  😦

4.  I made my bed this morning!!  (I usually do,

What’s the black & white thing though?

Is that a lump?

This is how I find Haley almost every day.  She’s such a considerate little pup.  She somehow burrows under the cover while still maintaining the look of the made bed.

That takes talent.

5.  This week I was at the grocery store one afternoon.  I was walking around the produce section and suddenly I decided that maybe I should try sushi again.  I’ve tried it about 5 times and each time it was a no-go.  But once I get something in my head, there’s no turning back.  So, I headed over to the sushi department and got a spicy tuna roll.

You guys…it was delicious!!!

I’m finally a hip, sushi lover…..10 years late to the party.

Banana Muffins

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Did you know that Jonathan Lipnicki is 21 years old now?

Who the heck is Jonathan Lipnicki?

The human head weighs 8 pounds.

Oh…..that kid from Jerry Maguire!

There was a story about him NOW on Yahoo.  The human head may weigh 8 pounds, but I’m more interested in that SIX PACK!!  What?!?!


The secret to his rockin’ abs??

Banana Muffins

Okay, that’s totally not true.  But it worked as a segue!!  😉

Banana Muffins

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3-4 ripe mashed bananas


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.  In another bowl, add the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat together to mix.  Stir in the mashed bananas to your wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Stir just until blended.

Line your muffin tins with paper liners.  Divide the batter into the liners.  Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Test for doneness with a toothpick to see that no crumbs are attached.  Transfer muffins to a wire rack and cool slightly.

Makes about 15-18 muffins.  Serve warm or cooled.  Serve for breakfast or dessert.

I prefer my banana muffins for breakfast, before I hit the gym to work on my own 6 pack abs!  Or before I sit in front of a computer for 10 hours.  One or the other I’m sure.  🙂