Saturday, June 29, 2013

30 BLOWS Thirtieth Birthday Gift

A while back, we had a good friend turn 30.  His dear wife planned a really fun evening complete with Beer, Barbecue and Beer Pong to celebrate.  I didn't want to come empty handed, but the invitation didn't really indicate whether we needed to bring a gift or not.  I decided I wanted to bring something that would be funny, but not all black and "over the hill" themed.  I've seen variations on this type of treat using suckers that say, "40 Sucks."  Had the gift been for a woman, I might have gone with the sucker theme and used a really cute flower pot.  But guys?  They like beer, baseball, sunflower seeds and bubble gum.  The big bucket of gum reminds me of baseball.  The bucket even says, "Team Tub."  Perfect!  It was a hit, and needless to say our friend did not need to buy any bubble gum for a while.  So another guy we know is celebrating his 30th birthday this weekend and I decided to repeat my idea.  Stupid me didn't bother to save the printable last time, so I had to measure and come up with a label all over again.  I decided that was a lot of work and I would definitely save it this time, for future use.  I even decided to share with you, and I've added a generic "30 BLOWS" label at the bottom that you can print out and use yourself!  I hate to admit my age, but thirty really doesn't blow.  And forty doesn't suck.  You're as young as you feel so get out there and enjoy.  Bubble gum and all!
A Big Bucket of Bubble Gum Birthday Fun!
(Say that five times fast)
Happy Birthday Noah...
Welcome to the Over 30 Club!
What you need for this project:

Tub of bubble gum
Full-sized printable adhesive labels
Print out your label.
Cut carefully and it should fit the lid of the bucket,
just enough to cover up the writing...
Tie some fun ribbon onto the bucket handle.

Wish the recipient a Happy Birthday!
Assure them 30 really isn't so bad...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grilled Cabbage

I hated cabbage when I was a kid.  I didn't like cabbage of any kind, including sauerkraut.  When I went to college and had sauerkraut as an adult for the first time, in a quaint little German town, I realized I liked it.  A few years later, I was visiting my friend Jenny and we went to her grandmother's house for lunch.  She was one of these dear little ladies, and great cooks that insisted on filling your plate for you.  And you know you'd better eat everything on it.  Much to my dismay was a large helping of boiled cabbage.  One thing my mother did teach me was good manners.  So I made up my mind to be polite and power through the cabbage on my plate.  And guess what?  I liked it.  Loved it.  Now we have cabbage in some form pretty often.  Little Devil thinks I'm trying to poison her, but Mr. DD and I like it.  I served with cabbage wedges with my Slow Cooker Kielbasa.  It was the perfect compliment and made a great meal, but this would make a great side dish to any meal, year round.
Grilled Cabbage
Shown here with Slow Cooker Kielbasa.
"It's like a de-constructed hot dog."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mango Chicken Salad

Normally we like the standard chicken salad around here.  Eggs, pickles, mayo...But once in a while it's fun to try something new and different.  With an abundance of basil in our backyard, this seemed like the perfect combination!  Very refreshing, and perfect for lunch or summer dinner on the patio:

Not your typical chicken salad!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Triple Peanut Butter Cupcakes

My dad LOVES peanut butter.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Peanut butter on toast.  Peanut butter and syrup.  That's right, peanut butter and syrup.  As in pancake syrup.  One of those delicacies I remember from my childhood.  Peanut butter mixed together with pancake syrup, served with white bread.  I haven't had that one in a long time.  So for his birthday, I wanted to make a dessert that screamed peanut butter without screaming peanut butter and syrup.  (Ewww, that sounds so gross now that I'm old.)  So I decided on Triple Peanut Butter Cupcakes.  That would be the triple threat of Peanut Butter cake, Peanut Butter buttercream frosting and topped with Peanut Buttery Reese's Pieces candies.  I think you get the message, he loves peanut butter. Happy Birthday Daddy!

Happy Birthday Dad!

The Triple Peanut Butter Cupcake Party
Cream shortening and sugar together.
Add eggs.
Add peanut butter and mix until creamy.
Alternate adding flour mixture
And milk mixture.
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full

Bake about 25 minutes or until golden.
Cool completely before frosting.

Combine powdered sugar and butter.
Add vanilla, peanut butter and milk.
Beat until fluffy and desired consistency.

Frost cooled cupcakes.
Garnish with Reese's Pieces.
Enjoy!  It beats peanut butter and syrup,
but just barely according to my dad!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Father's Day Snack Bags

So my Mother's Day Candy Grams In A Jar were a big hit.  So much of a hit that I didn't want the dads in my life to be jealous when Father's Day rolled around.  I didn't want to recycle the exact same idea, and frankly I don't think dads care if their gift is in a cute jar.  Plus my dad and father-in-law aren't really supposed to be having so many sweets, and I did not want to be the one responsible for their chocolate overload.  I decided I wanted their gift to be mainly savory stuff, preferable snack foods.  Because face it, when you're a grandpa, and it's summertime, all you really want to do is sit in your chair, watch baseball and munch on snacks.  I searched and searched online for ideas and ran across a Father's Day Trail Mix that contained a few of the foods I used.  I used that inspiration as my launch board.  I took the little saying that accompanied the snack mix and expanded on it, writing my own little poem.  Yes, it's dorky I know.  But it's for Dad and he won't mind.  I was able to find all of the items in the individual serving sizes at Wal-Mart, with the exception of the little bags of Hershey's Kisses.  I found those at my friend Dollar Tree.  The cute little clips were 6 for a $1.00 in the $1.00 section at Michael's.  I love a bargain!  I think the men in my life are really going to enjoy this little treat.  I hope you do too!
Here's the finished bag,
all ready for Dad!
The Contents:  A box of raisins, a package of Goldfish crackers,
a package of microwave popcorn, chocolate chip cookies,
a small box of Cheeze-It crackers, a small package of Teddy
Grahams, A package of chocolate covered pretzels,
a package of peanuts, a box of Skittles and a small package
of Hershey's Kisses.
I found plain kraft paper style gift bags at Michael's,
along with the little heart clothespin-style clips.
I printed the poem out on cardstock...

Put the items in the bag...
OR make a snack mix using these items.
I think a "trail mix" made up of these ingredients
would be just as cute. Package them in a baggie
and tie the poem on as a tag! Be Creative!

Clip the poem on the bag with a cute 'lil clip.
Michael's had tons of fun clips, some looked like
be-dazzled clothespins!
Here it is, all finished...

All ready to go and present to DAD!
Happy Father's Day out there to all of
the Dads, Granddads, Uncles,
Brothers, Friends and Male Mentors...
Enjoy your day!
In case you can't read the tag in the picture, the poem says:


RAISINS are for you well you raised me.
GOLDFISH because you're the big fish in the sea.
POPCORN for being a "Pop" as solid as a rock.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 'cuz I'm a chip off the old block.
CHEEZE-ITS 'cuz you're the big cheese.
TEDDY GRAHAMS for all the bear hugs you've given me.
PRETZELS for guiding me through life's turns and twists.
PEANUTS 'cuz I'm your 'lil peanut, you get the gist.
SKITTLES for the rainbow of love and cheer you give.
KISSES to show the love you'll get as long as you live.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Brown Sugar Brickle Bars

I love Heath Bars.  Well let me clarify.  I love the center of the Heath Bars.  Don't tell anyone, but I could actually live without the chocolate on the outside.  I wish Dobby the Elf from Harry Potter lived here and could scrape the chocolate off of Heath Bars for me.  You can purchase Heath Bar Bits at the store, by the chocolate chips.   And those are good in a lot of recipes, but nothing beats just the toffee bits without the chocolate.  Usually around the holidays I can find Heath brand Brickle Bits which are just the toffee bits!  No chocolate!  Too bad they are pretty small and kind of hard to eat out of the bag.  I always stock up on these because I love recipes that call for "brickle bits."  These Brown Sugar Brickle Bars are so gooey and rich.  The little crunchy brickle bits are the ultimate in this recipe.  Be sure and cut them small. OR don't. Cut them big and serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a reader on Facebook suggested.  

Here are the brickle bits.  See???
NO Chocolate

Melt butter and brown sugar together
until smooth.
Combine with other ingredients.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake approximately 30 minutes.
Enjoy the ooey, gooey, sticky
brickle-y goodness!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Baseball Watch Party #2 (Yes, I like Baseball!)

When the Sooners football season rolls around, I am the biggest football fan.  And then the countdown to baseball season begins and I become the biggest baseball fan.  And to tell the truth, baseball might just edge out football a little bit in my heart.  But don't tell that to anyone.  Because I have a reputation to uphold.  Being such a fan, it's pretty easy to tailgate or host watch parties.  I love baseball (DUH) so that pretty much meets the criteria.  Oh and all of my serving dishes are red and/or say:  SOONERS.  And I'm the Queen of Casual Entertaining.  Meaning there is beer in the little fridge on the patio, just help yourself.  When Sooner Baseball made it into the regional tournaments, working  toward the College World Series last year we had some friends over to watch.  We actually moved our tv out onto the patio and it was a blast.  Great weather, great friends, great team.  And of course:  great food.   Here's a few ideas you can throw together for some baseball-themed fun:

You know the words to the song...
Cracker Jacks are a baseball must!
Don't forget the peanuts.
I love the scoops for serving.
Seems so "old fashioned."
I made things super easy.
Hot Dogs and Baked Beans.
Our friends brought chips and beer
and the meal was complete! 
You can find my Baked Bean Recipe HERE.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lithuanian Torte

I have no idea where Lithuania is.  Nor did I know they are famous for making torte.  Somehow in all the time I lived in Omaha, Nebraska I managed to miss out on the famous Lithuanian Bakery with its magical torte.  I have a dear friend, Michaela who RAVES about the torte.  When she came to visit me, all the way from Omaha, Nebraska for her birthday, I decided it was time to introduce myself to Lithuania, and their torte.  Mind you I have never even seen one of these things. I didn't even bother to get out a map and look for Lithuania.  I  couldn't find much information about Lithuanian Tortes online, except that apricot seems to be the preferred flavor, and they contained some kind of cream, sandwiched between some kind of cakey-cookie layers.  I decided to give it a go.  I came up with a cookie layer, a simple cream filling, and added apricot preserves.  It wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever made, but my friend said the flavors were right on!  I think I may have invented Oklahoman Torte.  Lithuanian Torte via Oklahoma.  It's a lot of work, but well worth it if you've got a good friend like Michaela.
My Mock Lithuanian/Oklahoman Torte.
The Line Up, all the way from Lithuania. 
Just kidding.
Do they have Jell-O pudding there?
Beat sugar and eggs in an electric mixer.

Add milk and softened butter.  Combine.
Add dry ingredients.
Shape dough into a log. 
Wrap and chill several hours.

Cut dough into 12 even pieces.
Roll dough very thin,
and cut into a circle, using a salad plate
as your guide.  Bake and cool. If you're smart,
you will do all of this ahead. 
If you're a genius, you will cheat and used
refrigerated sugar cookie dough. 
(Not exactly the same, but close enough
when you are making up recipes to duplicate something that someone's Lithuanian Grandmother invented.)
When you're ready to assemble
the Lithuanian Nightmare,
whip the heaving whipping cream until fluffy. 
Add the instant vanilla pudding
until you get a thick, creamy mixture.
Add a dollop of preserves to the platter
to prevent the torte from sliding around. 
(This did not prevent the torte from
sliding around for me.  I now know why I've
never had Lithuanian Torte in Oklahoma. 
It's too dang hot here for tall,
fancy desserts to survive. 
That's why this is only found in
Omaha, Nebraska where it's cold.)
Place a cookie on top of the preserves.
Spread on a layer of cream.
Add another cookie and top
this one with apricot preserves.
Keep on repeating this
process forever and ever. 

Well really only 12 times. 
Sing Happy Birthday to your friend!
Slice and serve
before it falls apart :)
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