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Pumpkin Clause

I was forced awake by someone shaking me this morning and telling me ‘I think that Pumpkin Clause came last night.’




He may have a huge stuffed turkey and framed pictures of wrestlers. He may eat us out of house and home. He may smell like a boy.




But my man is creative. And sweet.




Here is what Pumpkin Clause brought me last night.









Of course, there was some healthy goodies in there, but I chose to snap the fun stuff – like the iTunes gift card, some Ghiradelli since I am a chocolate snob, and the cute autumn-themed apron.




Can it get any better than this?





He is quite festive. 🙂




He is also doing the grocery shopping for us since my parents at all of our candy corn last night.




Are you wondering what I got him?




That would be…




…nothing. Except for my undying love. Oh, and last night was ‘get-your-husband-loaded-then-take-him-to-Sur La Table-and buy-out-the-store night. ‘




That was fun for me, too. All in all, I’ve had a great Halloween so far! We are going to carve pumpkins this afternoon, even though my dad can carve them better, since we spent all of our money time last night eating, drinking, and shopping.




Again, you guys cracked me up with your Friday Trivia comments. 🙂




The correct answers were:

1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

2. George Lazenby, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig.

3. Dale Earnhart

I’m sure you all know I surely didn’t have anything to do with the last question.




Here’s who made the cut this week:








Jessie (vegan-minded)



That Kind Of Girl







And if you missed last week, check it out to see who got the correct answers.




I’m not coming back with a Halloween recipe. I am coming back with a Smoked Cheddar Bacon Mac recipe. Because it should be eaten on Halloween.




And every other day, too.

Trivia Friday #2.

My husband brought home pumpkins to carve on Wednesday night. This really excited me because I LOVE carved pumpkins, and we didn’t get any last year since we lived in this place.



He was all gung ho about carving the pumpkins that night, on Wednesday. However, it was raining here in Pittsburgh and I didn’t want our pumpkins to be ruined by Saturday.



Me: I think we should carve the pumpkins the day before Halloween. They might rot if we carve them now.
My husband: Why? Does your dad carve them the day before Halloween?



Things like this are a running joke between my husband and me. Well, at least I think they are a running joke.



I have not failed to mention how exceptional my life, family, and childhood are and have been. I feel very blessed and my brothers and I have all turned out alright. I also have so many wonderful memories of my childhood – and they are all so good – that I would like to do everything my way.





Not me. No way. I am not at all like Mother Lovett.



So here is what tanspired via cell phone last night – a text message conversation between my husband and dad:



My dad: (jokingly) You should wait to carve the pumpkin’s until the day before Halloween.
My husband: (only slightly joking) Thanks for the advice, I find my life is easier if I do things the way you would.







What’s that? You are looking for some food pictures?



I only have a few, but the recipe to come later will cause you to gain 5lbs just by looking at it. If your pants are already tight like mine, you may want to think twice about visiting again.



Here is some chunky chili that I made earlier in the week, along with some whole wheat naan.





Some pumpkin pie yogurt, which I found very disappointing. I let it sit in front of me for about 45 minutes, hoping it would develop a better flavor.





It did not.



A beautiful honeycrisp, eaten x 7 this week.





And for all of you animal lovers, here is our family dog, picture courtesy of my dad.



This is Winnie.




She has a wild personality, loves to play football, and finds chasing squirrels to be her most favorite past time ever. That is her personal ad in ‘puppy’s looking for love.’  She also barks constantly until you pay attention to her.


Apparently, Winnie and I have that in common. According to my dad, she would also like to begin a blog.




And this here is Abby.



Abby was the best dog ever. She was so, so incredibly sweet. She changed my feelings towards dogs. Growing up I was always scared to death of animals, and pretty much planned on moving out when I was 15 and we got a dog. Unfortunately, Abby went to doggy heaven on Easter Monday this year. It was a sad day.




Friday is finally here! Which means – Friday Trivia! If you did not participate last week, here is your chance. The guidelines are as follows, and you have a whopping 5 chances to win!



Here’s how it works:

-3 questions are posted Friday morning. 


-You have until midnight (EST) Friday to qualify – leave your answer in the comments section.


-The comments will not be made public until Saturday. I will get it, but it will not appear. So please do not comment 324 times like I have in situations like these. One comment per person.


-Everyone who answers correctly will be entered into a drawing for an awesome prize EVERY MONTH. This means if you participate in FOUR trivia Friday’s in one month, you have FOUR chances to win. I sure am good at math.


-The prize will be different each time and announced on the 15th of the month. It may be small, it may be big. It may be tangible or not. It may be a lock of my hair. Who knows? Either way, it will be announced mid-month. 


-The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on the last day of the month. If the last day falls on a Friday, winner will be chosen Saturday.


Oh, and if you are super-excited that October is almost over and it is almost prize time? You lose. Because we are startin’ today and going through November. That’s FIVE chances to win this go ’round. Thank my brother for this super-fun idea.


My brother did not provide this week’s questions because he thinks he has the swine flu. I am sure there is a direct correlation between him having the swine flu, and the fact that on Wednesday night he put on a Miss Piggy wig from the 1980’s and declared he was going as ‘H1N1’ for Halloween. Hmmm…khama’s a biotch.



These questions come from my husband, which you could probably figure out if you have read THIS.





1. Where did the Walsh family live before moving to Beverly Hills, 90210?

2. Name at least 4 actors who have played James Bond.

3. What driver won the most Sprint Cup Series Championships in the 1990s?

Thanks for playin’!

Stuffed Artichokes.

How excited are you for Friday trivia tomorrow? I got 3 more questions comin’ at ya!



Have you ever had stuffed artichokes?



I never had. Not until 2003.



And for the record, I ate them at an ex-boyfriend’s house on most holidays. Yep, I said it.



The relationship didn’t stick, but the artichokes sure did. I think my husband is happy on both accounts.




My mom had never had them, and I didn’t know anyone who had. Sad to say, I am not very cultured. Unless you consider never leaving home and being afraid to use public restrooms cultured.



A few years ago I created this ‘stuffing’ for the artichokes, after learning how to prepare them first.




If you are looking for a recipe that does not include butter, oil or cheese – you have come to the wrong place, my friend. But I hope you’ll stay. 🙂




I bought this 4 pack of artichokes from Trader Joe’s for $3.99. Talk about a deal.



In my grocery store, they are $2.50 a piece. Not that this matters, because I think money grows on trees I love them so much that I am willing to pay $5.00 for artichokes and $7.00 for avocados. I have no idea where all of my money is going.











These are beauties. ‘Round these parts you don’t see such elegant artichokes.











You’d think I lived in a remote area of town. I don’t. 




I do this one of two ways. This time, I cut the top off of the artichoke before boiling.











Sometimes I do it after. I believe after is the best way, in order to keep the artichoke from browing. But I have never had that problem, so I do it my way.

I am such a rebel.




The prickly leaves should be trimmed off.











Unless you enjoy cuts on your tongue and cheek.




Hey, some people do. You may like that kinda’ thing.

I’m not judging.




You can see I was practicing my karate chopping skills and took off a huge hunkin’ chunk of the bottom left artichoke.


















Don’t do that. Please don’t follow my lead.







I let them drain for about 5-10 minutes. It can be done longer, but I am extremely impatient.











Chances are, those that know me and are reading are thinking ‘No! She is definitely not impatient at all.’





I have talked about panko before. I adore panko. My lobster mac adores panko.











You should, too. It is nice.




This is how I created the stuffing for the artichokes.
































Otherwise known as – a myocardial infarction in a saucepan.







The panko and cheese create an incredible stuffing.


















Toasted, cheesy, and crispy – yet soft. Remember that time I wished I could eat breading as a meal? This is one of those times.







The artichokes need to be reallllly pulled apart to get the stuffing inside.

























Do you think I didn’t take a couple spoonfuls for myself?











You don’t even know me.




If you really knew me, you’d know I ate quarter-cupfuls of the mix.




Isn’t this incredible?


















I dumped a bit of water in the bottom of my small baking dish. I love the ‘casserole dishes for two.’ I have one from pampered chef.











Unfortunately, a casserole that can actually fit in the ‘casserole dish for two,’ only feeds me. And then, I need to make a dish for my husband in a ‘casserole dish for six.’ That should satisfy him.






Check out the stuffed, baked artichokes.










If you are not familar with eating the ‘meat’ from the leaves, you simply pluck a leaf, and scrape from the top down with your teeth. Buttery, toasted, cheesy stuffing included.

















Stuffed Artichokes

4 artichokes

1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

3 peeled garlic cloves

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut stems off of artichokes. Place upside down in a large pot and fill with water. Boil for 20 minutes. Artichokes should be submerged in water, so you may need to place a bowl or other object on top.

Remove artichokes from pot. Let drain upside down for 10 minutes. Cut off the top 1/2-1 inch of artichoke. Trim remaining leaf tips if sharp. 

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/8 cup butter. Add chopped garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and any other fresh herbs or seasons you desire. Stir until mixture comes together. It will most likely be dry, so add the remaining oil and butter. Add in the parmesan cheese, a squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juiced, and stir until lightly golden brown.

Pull apart artichoke leaves and spoon mixture evenly inside. Place artichokes in a baking dish and add 1 inch of water to the bottom.

Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Place foil over the artichokes and bake another 25 minutes. 

Serve with clarified butter and a dish to discard leaves.


































Remember when I made Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi’s??







Cinde from Gluten Free Taste of Home made Gluten Free Pumpkin Gnocchi’s for all of you gluten-free peeps out there. Check out her site, and try out her recipe!




Also, a HUGE shout out to Seth from Boy Meets Food for spending alot of time with me yesterday regarding my wordpress issues.





And if you are craving more buttery, sugary goodness, follow How Sweet It Is on Twitter and Facebook.

(I’m having some wordpress formatting issues (spacing between photos and lines) that no one has been able to figure out – I apologize if the formatting of this post is goofy!)

I think the title says it all, but could there be a more fabulous combination?



Well, assuming you like pears. And figs. And gorgonzola.


A lot of people are not fond of all 3 said foods.  Maybe I should stop while I’m ahead. 



I LOVE pears, figs, and am more than passionate about gorgonzola. 



You may be thinking ‘is there a food she does not like?’

Why, yes. Yes, there is.



It would be vegetables. 

All vegetables. Except for corn. Which is, like, a fake vegetable.




This was one of the juiciest pears I have found in a long time.



I chopped it up, snuck multiple bites, pouted because I couldn’t just eat the entire thing, the threw it in a small dish with some sugar and cinnamon.










Crumbled gorgonzola.


I could eat this as my entree and dessert. Who am I kidding? I already do.





One of my most favorite foods on the planet.





Fresh, juicy figs.

I also enjoy dried figs. I don’t discriminate.





The incredible fig spread I bought last week at Whole Paycheck Foods.






The pear, figs, and gorgonzola went into a ramekin.

I only added the figs and gorgonzola once the pears were roasted, and allowed it to roast for 5 more minutes.



Truth be told, it really could be eaten like this. The juiciness of the roasted pears combined with the soft, pungent gorgonzola creates a world of flavor.



But as much as I love it alone, I love my pants tightening around my waist more, and added some flaky empty-calorie-filled puffed pastry.


I know you think I’m joking.

I’m not.



Just call me by my new nickname – ’puffy pastry’.



Serve it with fresh figs.

And crispy, flaky layers topped with fig spread.







Roasted Pear, Figs and Gorgonzola Puffed Pastry

1 large bartlett pear

3 fresh turkish figs

2 tablespoons gorgonzola

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon fig preserves

1 sheet Pillsbury puffed pastry.

Preheat oven to 400.

Thaw puffed pastry according to directions. Once thawed, place in oven and cook according to directions – about 15 minutes. Once cooled, slice pastry into squares.

Chop up pear and place in ramekin. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Chop figs into quaters. Once you remove the roasted pear from the oven, cover with chopped figs and gorgonzola. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Spread fig preserves on 1 side of 2 puffed pastry squares. On a third square, spread both sides with fig preserves. Assemble one square on plate, fig preserves-side up. Place spoonful of pear, fig and gorgonzola mixture in middle of square. Top with 2-spread-sided square. Place on another spoonful of pear mixture. Top with 3rd puffed pastry square, fig preserves-side down.

Serve with fresh figs.






I am slowly increasing pants sizes…




…one cup of gorgonzola…


…at a time.






Do you know any good personal trainers?



Oh wait. I am one.



The gravy stain on my shirt and popped-off buttons caused me to forget.



I am staging a gorgonzola-free intervention. With myself.



And my pants.

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Chunky Fire-Roasted Chili.

Here in Pittsburgh the mornings and evenings are chilly, yet the temperature during the day is reaching about 65.



Still perfect chili weather, in my opinion.




Sometimes I make chili with ground turkey, and sometimes I use beef. I’ve also mixed turkey, chicken AND beef. That is delish.


I wanted to partake in the chili-eating, and was craving some good ole’ ground beef.



I wear the pants in this house.



(I’m shakin’ in my boots as I type those words.)





I used about 3lbs of organic 92/8 ground beef.













Chopped up some veggies.













And found nice, huge chunks of mold inside the red pepper we had just got at the store.









Don’t you hate when that happens??







I rescued the no-mold sections.










Which is actually surpising, since I served my husband tacos with tortillas that expired on August 25th last week. I checked them out again this weekend and they were covered in spots of black and green mold.



I guess he was so hungry, he overlooked that.







Chopped up a few cloves of garlic, which I think is oh, so fun.
























It all went into a giant pot with some olive oil. I took a picture, but just accidentally deleted it. I am lazy.









I seasoned the beef with sea salt and pepper.













And threw it into the pot.


















We do like our chili chunky (like my other soups), so I broke up the beef and tried to leave some larger chunks.









The chili sauce base.











 Tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and fire-roasted tomatoes. Yum.







I don’t use any seasoning packets – I prefer to do it myself.










Crushed red pepper, cocoa chili powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin.




While I love doing the seasoning my way, I always end up doing different things each time. I guess that is the beauty of it.






At about noon, I decided it was time for this.










For the chili, of couse.







 Ok, maybe not.












But I did add some to the chili. It was thirsty.


















I used a LARGE can of kidney beans. I’m talking, HUGE. They went in after the base sauce.




























My first round of seasonings added.

















I’m noticing my pictures are a bit blurry. I think my camera is on it’s last leg. I am devastated. I love my camera. I don’t want to have to buy a new one.



I’d rather buy 5 inch pumps.




Because I don’t have any. I swear. 





I let my chili simmer for about 6-8 hours.










Of course, there were many tastings withing those 6-8 hours.







Including a few bowls for my husband.


















Topped with smoked cheddar. My all-time favorite cheese. Along with gouda, asiago, gruyere…



Does it get any better?







Chunky Fire-Roasted Chili

3 lbs organic, grass fed 92/8 ground beef

1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 small red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red wine

2 large cans tomato puree

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can of fire-roasted tomatoes

1 extra-large can of kidney beans

1 small can of tomato paste

1/4 cup chili powder

4 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon cocoa chili powder

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon smoked paprika


Heat a large pot on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the chopped onion, peppers and garlic. Saute until vegetables are soft.

Season ground beef with salt and pepper. Add to pot and break apart with a wooden spoon. Let brown. Add one cup of red wine and continue to saute and stir for about 3 minutes.

Add tomato puree, diced tomatos, fire-roasted tomatoes and kidney beans. Stir and add tomato paste.

Add chili powder, cocoa chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and smoked paprika. Stir and let simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Simmer for 2-8 hours.






This here is a recipe I found deep in the pages of one of Mother Lovett’s recipe books. You know, those crazy-beautiful books from the 1950’s that have yellow pages? I wrote about them a few weeks ago. They certainly are a treasure to me.



Since I know no restraint when it comes to cream cheese, I figured I would LOVE this recipe. Anything to make my inner thighs jiggle more and begin stretching the seam of my pants.



Oh wait. That already happens.



This time I don’t just have butter. I have cream cheese.















Ingredients in the morning sunshine.














Creamed butter and cream cheese.















This went into my mouth. Suprised?









This is obviously your first time visiting. 











And I also licked this clean.











It was delicious.








I used milk chocolate chips. Not dark.










Because I hate anything that is deemed ‘good’ for me just really love milk chocolate.








Ready to go in the oven.























The finished product.











 Can I tell you a secret?


Thanks. Don’t tell anyone.





I didn’t like these cookies. They were not sweet enough for me. Which, luckily for you, means that you would most likely love them. I have the sweetest teeth known to man.





My husband and brother LOVED them. 


They are also the kind of people that sometimes find certain desserts ‘too rich.’




Yeah. Those people.




Ugh. They are luckily they are family.



I just don’t get the concept. There has never been anything too sweet or too rich for me.



I wanted to throw these cookies out. That led to a giant fight, because my husband suggested I was wasting food.



He obviously has not looked at my thights, butt, hips, stomach, and arms.





So, in my honest opinion, these did turn out perfectly. I think most of you would absolutely love them, so I urge you to give them a try. They do have a slight sweetness to them just not enough for my whacked out tastebuds.













Cream Cheese Chocolate Cookies

1 cup butter

3 oz of cream cheese

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and cream cheese together. Add vanilla and mix. Stir in flour and salt, just until blended. Fold in chocolate chips.


Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. The cookies will remain light in color.