Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chop Chop, Baby!

Many, many years ago, when my husband Gary was working for a Computer Software company in Newport Beach, he 'discovered' this new resturant across the street from his office. It was called 'California Pizza Kitchen', and he raved about it CONSTANTLY. Seriously. I think the during the years he worked in Newport, he ate at CPK an average of 3 times a month for lunch! Funny thing, the only thing he would order (and still does) was 1. the Thai BBQ Chicken Pizza, and 2. the Chopped Salad. He would regularly lament that he would love to eat the Chopped Salad at home, if I could find a recipe.  {sigh,...poor Dad}}

Now, this was about 16 yrs ago, looooooong before *I* discoved the Internet, and even longer before that wonder of 'Google'. Fast forward to about 5 yrs ago. Another visit to CPK (where he STILL orders the same 2 items!), and I came home determined to re-create that dang Chopped Salad. So...turn on computer, bring up Google, enter 'CPK Chopped Salad Recipe' and Viola! (that is Whaa-laa, lol) I FOUND IT !! At first glance, it seemed a bit daunting,...but upon closer inspection, realized the half the ingredients were for the dresssing, and all items in my cupboard. Yeah!

A few days later, I made the Salad for the first time....SUCCESS!! I actually tasted BETTER that the CPK version...(maybe because it was sooooo much cheaper doing it myself) ! We have this salad regularly in the warmer months, along with sourdough rolls. Yum Yum !
A couple of notes - 1. Don't add the tomatoes to the Salad, serve them on the side. This way, if there is leftover salad, you can bag it up for a day or two and it won't get soggy.
2. Feel free to change the amounts of lettuce, meats, and cheese to your own taste. As it is, this makes a HUGE bowl of salad, enough for our family of 8 for dinner. You might not want that much.
3. At least DOUBLE the dressing recipe. One recipe of dressing is not enough for all this salad. Don't change the dressing recipe...it is pretty much perfect as is. It is also VERY strong, and zesty!

All that said, here is the recipe, copied from RecipeZaar. I'm also including the link, if you want to print it from the site.  http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/California-Pizza-Kitchen-Chopped-Salad-112979


1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons shallots, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/3 cups olive oil, mild flavored
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips
12 leaves basil, chopped into fine strips
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup garbanzo beans
4 cups tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 cups turkey breast, diced (i'm trying this is grilled chicken breast)
1/2 cup salami, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped


For salad, toss together the ingredients in a large bowl and chill in your refrigerator.
For dressing, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl and chill for an hour.
Just before serving, toss dressing with salad and serve on small individual plates.
Can serve 4 for a main dish or 8 for small side salads.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fast Five for Friday !

Guess it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted. {sigh} The only excuse I have...it's been a BUSY time of year. (i get so tired of the word 'busy', anyone have other words I can replace it with??) April was full of BBQ's and Birthday Party, and MAY is Crazy Birthday Month, plus Mother's Day (ahem!)and TONS of school activities. Crazy Busy. Yep!

1. Last week was Steph's Sweet 16 Birthday Party, followed by her actual 16th Birthday this last Tues (May4th) Have I mentioned that HALF of my 6 kids have May birthdays?? Hmmmmm, wonder what that says about us?? Anyway, we had a SUPER FANTASTIC FUN PARTY, lots of friends, family, food and presents! Photo is Steph, on the left (wearing Jenni's old Prom dress) and little sis Cami at the start of the Party.

2. Jenni started a homebased business this week, making Vintage style belts and hairwear. Her FB fan page is: Jennifer Elizabeth-Vintage Belts and Hairwear . She is already super busy with orders, and happily keeping trying to keep up with them. She also does custom items, so get in touch with her if you are looking for cute and unique belts and hair goodies.

3. I'm having a VERY Last Minute Mother's Day Special on Baked Goodies! Check out my NEW FB fan page for the info : Cakes n Crumbs - FB Fan Page . All orders must be in my dinner time today, with goodies available for pickup tomorrow (Sat) evening.

4. Speaking of Birthdays...tomorrow is my #1 Oldest Son's 28th Birthday !!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARY ALAN !! (or G2 as I shorten his name) Wow, so if he is 28, then I must be....about 42???  Yea, I wish. I was only 20 yrs old when I had Gary Alan,...I feel like we kinda grew up together, ya know?? We even had a period of time when he was a young teen that people thought we were sister/brother. I loved it, Gary...not so much, haha! Gary is a Great Son, a Caring Oldest Brother to his 5 younger brothers and sisters, and a VERY talented Musician/DJ/Entertainer! How many of you know he is a Highly Trained DJ?? Or that he was in Show Choir in high school?? Yep, I'm PROUD of my boy. OH, and he has the CUTEST, BESTEST Girlfriend in the world !! Love you Son!  (photo: Gary on the left, doing this thing, Mike acting as 'Security', at Steph's party)

5. Waiting...waiting...waiting.....We (my husband Gary and I) are not-so-patiently waiting to hear about a couple of jobs he has interviewed for. One was from 2 months ago...they still haven't made a decision, the other is from interviews this week. They are 'supposed' to be getting back to him by the end of this week to see if he goes to the next round. Asking for PRAYERS and GOOD THOUGHTS please...I'm really trying to keep my Faith and Hope going, but it's so hard. Any additional help would be great. Thank you so much, we will let everyone know when he gets the job! (trying to keep positive here, lol!)

Off to do a bit of Costco shopping, and see what other trouble I can get into this beautiful Friday in SoCal ~!
HUGS, Linda

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Let them Eat Cake !

Since I have a few minutes of free time, and access to the laptop, i thought I'd post a few pics from the Wedding. ('The Wedding', lol) The first one is the actual Wedding Cake. Jenni pretty much left the design up to me,...I knew she wanted it kinda 'rustic' to go with her Vintage Garden theme. And it had to have the birds and branches. We also wanted it BIG, cause it needed to make a statement. (not sure what the statement was, maybe 'This is one stinkin' BIG cake' ??) This was what I came up with, and I was pretty pleased with the results. And it was VERY easy to decorate, lol. The sizes and flavors were:
12" round - Styrofoam (fake)
10" round - Chocolate and Vanilla cake, with Snicker Bar Mousse filling
8" round - Vanilla cake with Pineapple filling

The 2nd photo is of the Dessert Table. It included 5 seperate 10"round cakes, and platters of homemade cookies. Many thanks again to Angie Jones (no relation, but should be!) for her YUMMY cookies! The cake flavors were:
1. Chocolate Cake with Fudge filling
2. German Chocolate cake
3. Carrot Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Icing
4. Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese icing (no nuts)
5. Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese icing

All together, there was enough cake for 200 servings. My beloved husband Gary kept saying that he bet that HALF the cake would be left when the reception was over. Yea, right. Guess what?? There was NO CAKE leftover!!! Except that styrofoam layer, but that doesn't count ;) Can I just say..."In your FACE Gary!" hahaha!

Warning! Shameless Business plug coming...if you are shopping around for a wedding cake for an upcoming wedding, please give me a call! I do tradional tiered cakes, Dessert cakes, (like the 5 on the table) Money saving Sheet cakes, and Cupcakes! I can help you design the perfect Cake for your reception. Many flavors to choose from, all homemade and yummy!

Happy Eating! Linda

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Howdy Ya'll!

We's a fixin' to have us a BBQ fundraiser to get Miss Stephanie Jones on a Millikan High School Choir Trip to San Francisco! We'd appreciate it if 'n yew could come support her at the "Jones Family BBQ Joint" on Saturday, April 17th!

Vittles: Pulled Pork or Beef Brisket(BBQed by Pa), Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, & Ice Cold Lemonade! We'll also have a kids vittles menu with BBQ Chicken and Mac n Cheese.
Delicious desserts made my Ma will be available at extra cost.
Tickets: Presale only - $10 per adult, $7 per student, $5 fer kids under 10 yrs. old
The BBQ is Saturday, April 17th from 4-7pm, wif seatin’ every 30 minutes.
Come to the back yard at 2290 Canehill Ave for yer Authentic Southern BBQ !
We do take out!

Please contact Miss Stephanie at (562)370-7026-cell or(562)594-0059-home to purchase tickets and reserve yer seat!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carrot Cake for 7 ? or 9 ?

Just in case you've been hiding under a rock for the last few months, and didn't hear, Jenni and Phil got Married last week!! HORRAY!!! YIPPEE!!! It was everything we could have wished for. The weather was beautiful, and Bride and Groom were stunning, the Reception was a TON of FUN, and they newlyweds had a fun and relaxing honeymoon in Aruba. (yea, i'm jealous)Jenni is so cute, she keeps posting things on FB like, "I'm a Wife!" and "I'm Married". Yeah, now the REAL life begins. lol

I'll post some photos of the Wedding Day once we get them back from the Photographer. (AnDrea, who was AWESOME by the way. And my dear friend KC as 2nd shooter!) Jenni looked Gorgeous in her Ivory wedding dress, and the Reception was decorated so cute and fun! My girl did a GREAT job with her theme, and I think the guests enjoyed all the little details that she put so much time and effort (and $$) into. And all the amazing people that just stepped right in and helped,...WOW! You all know who you are, and I've already (tried) to thank most of you, but I have to say again, THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH! I have simply AMAZING Friends!! In a perfect world, we would have been able to pay to have all the reception taken care of, but since we don't live in a perfect world, we had to do almost ALL of it ourselves. And it was such a great help having all the help and support and last minute donations available to us. A few people I want to give a 'shout out' to:

My AWESOME Samoaan Mother-in-law, Sefiti - 90% of the dinner! And Father-in-law Clois for his BBQ skills!
My sister-in-law Cyndi - Kitchen Helper Extrodinaire!!
Angie Jones - the YUMMIEST cookies ever! (the ONLY thing I ate at the reception, 2 of her Snickerdoodles)
Colleen and Tina - Last minute Fruit delivery, yea!
Tami, Liz, and Cari - my cake cutters/servers. I started to help with the cake cutting, but got distracted. These ladies did it ALL. AMAZING!
TAMI again, for her help that same day in getting the food ready. She followed my directions PERFECTLY!
My sister-in-laws, Rhonda, Angela, Krystal - Food helpers, great job!
My (future daughter-in-law?) Linda N - you rocked at cooking Eggrolls! haha, wink-wink!
My #1 SON Gary Alan for his awesome Skills as DJ. He rocked the house!
Sooooo many more people that I can't remember, THANKS !

So anyway...now that Jenni is gone, should it be 'Carrot Cake for 7' or since I gained a Son-in-law, 'Carrot Cake for 9' ??? LOL!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Keep Swimming...

I think that will be my mantra for the next 8 days. Yep, only 8 days to go until THE WEDDING! Wow. 2 thoughts..."where did the last 4 months go?", and..."HOLY MOLY, I have alot to do!!" I'm thinking a 'List of Lists' will work well for today, and maybe help me get my activities and thoughts for the next week into some sort of order. (this idea is from my Utah friend Sophia)

TEN things I need to do this weekend:
1. Go to Distribution Center today with Jenni to buy clothes
2. Stop at cake decorating store for a few things
3. Finish Carrot Cake to donate for Los Al ward's Silent Auction tonight
4. Make a "Splenda" German Chocolate Cake for a customer. (good luck with this, my first time using Splenda)
5. Pick up my Wonder Drug prescription from Costco
6. Finish editing some photos
7. And put those photos on a CD
8. Prepare YW lesson for Sunday
9. Go to Newport Beach Temple tomorrow for Jenni's endowments!
10. Teach YW lesson on Sunday

NINE places I will go this weekend:
1. Newport Beach Temple
2. Distribution Center
3. Jenni's apartment
4. Costco
5. Out to lunch tomorrow??
6. New Moon release party at Borders. Not.
7. Grocery Store
8. Church
9. Wherever kids need to be taken to

EIGHT things I hope I can get family members to do so I won't have to:
1. Fix toilet seat in bathroom
2. Clean the stove
3. Clean the Microwave
4. Clean the Bathroom
5. (do we see a pattern here??)
6. Clean Kitchen Floor
7. Laundry
8. Vacuum

SEVEN things I need to purchase:
1. New Toilet Seat
2. Cake Box/Board
3. Underwear
4. Big Cute Tote bag
5. Large Ziplock Bags
6. Plates/Napkins/Cups/Cutlery, etc for 200. (this is Jenni's)
7. New WELCOME mat for the front porch

SIX things I need to BAKE or COOK:
1. Red Velvet Cake (for wedding)
2. Chocolate Chip Cookies (for wedding dessert table?)
3. Sugar free German Chocolate Cake
4. Waffles for Sunday dinner
5. Pork Roast in the Crock Pot
6. Big Batch of Spagetti sauce

FIVE people I am GRATEFUL to:
1. Tami Mallett
2. Liz Jimenez
3. Loni Wilkenson
4. Jessica Brimley
5. Verlin Youd

FOUR things I'm looking forward to:
1. Jenni's reaction to the Temple tomorrow
2. The headbands and necklaces being made for me and my girls
3. Lunch out tomorrow?
4. Hearing about Gary's hopeful//possible JOB

THREE things I'm feeling right now:
1. Anxious
2. Detirmined
3. Nervous

TWO things I wish I had MORE of right now:

ONE last thought:
I'm SO so so so GRATEFUL for all my wonderful friends and family and all the help and support they've given us the past few months. (even the last year!) Hope to see all of you at the WEDDING and/or RECEPTION next Sat! (but I still expect you to help with setup and decorating the Woodruff Building Thurs and Friday. Really. lol)

HUGS to all!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

SNOW DAY(s) !!

Hi Gals!

I've been busy, busy this week, getting ready for our Stake YM/YW Snow Trip! I'm 'privledged' again this year to have been asked to be the COOK for this little trip. I must admit, so far it's much easier this time, since I'm using the same menu that we used last year. Still had my shopping list! So, if you have any teens, (or adults) going, here is what they will be eating:

Dinner- Homemade Chili, with Cornbread, and Veggies w/ Ranch Dressing
Dessert- Fresh Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies (i premade 10lbs of cookie dough)
Breakfast - Pancakes, Bacon, Fresh Fruit, Milk, Juice (maybe eggs for a few special people)
Lunch - Hot dogs, (chili dogs if there are leftovers) Chips, Fruit, Lemonade
Snack - Granola Bars, Fruit

See, no worries, plenty of yummy food...no one will starve!

Ok, I promise to get caught up blogging next week. Maybe a few recipes, definitely a BAKING SPECIAL (can you say LEMONS, again?!) and BIG, HAPPY news on hubby's Job Search!! I'm off, see ya in a few days!
Hugs, and Happy Eating...and Fun in the Snow!

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's NOT Purple

Just a photo for the naysayers out there in Cyberland, who feel the need to form negative opinions my daughters choice of colors for her upcoming Wedding, without either knowing Jenni OR seeing the actual colors. (yea, I'm really going there)

The color of the bridesmaids dresses in this photo is close to the color of dresses that all TWO of her 'bridesmaids' (younger sisters) and the Maid of Honor will be wearing. Her sisters dresses will be tea length and have sleeves though. Her others colors are a Soft Yellow, (different shades) and some Silver for accessories. (like shoes, and such) Her whole reception is going to be a Vintage Garden theme, she has purchased many of the decorative and serving items herself. It will be cute and quirky, with things like wire bird cages, wicker chairs, white 'distressed look' ceramic trays and photo frames to name a few. (don't want to give away too much, you'll have to come to the reception to see for yourself!)

Oh, and just in case anyone needs something else to comment on...her actual Wedding Dress that she will wear at the reception is IVORY! {{gasp!!}} And looks absolutely Beautiful on my very fair-skinned redheaded daughter. (check photos below for proof of her coloring, in case you doubt my word, lol)

Ok, I'm off my soapbox for now. (and a word to the wise, it might not be a good idea to piss off the Mother of the Bride 6 weeks before the wedding. just saying.)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Goodies!

Hey! It just occured to me that Valentines Day is THIS Sunday! Do you know what that means?? I need to offer some AWESOME Valentines Goodies for my most AMAZING customers to order! (yea, all 4 of you. wait, i think i'm up to 6 now, go me) By the way, did you gals know that I am a certified Cake Decorator, for the last 25 yrs?? Yep, from Eagle Scout Cakes to Wedding Cakes, and even a year of teaching for Wilton, I've done it all. Or so it feels at times, lol.

So, here's what I've some up with;

1. 'Heart' Cupcakes - Regular size Cupcakes, decorated with Frosting Swirls, and Fondant Hearts. Available in 3 yummy flavors; Devil's Food, Vanilla, or Red Velvet. Frosted with a Chocolate Buttercream, or Vanilla Cream Cheese Swirl. (yum-yum) These are 6 for $12, minimum of 6 (same flavor, please) That is only $2.00 per cupcake, a dollar LESS than the little boutique bakery around the corner sells their's for. Mine are homemade, and just as good. Promise!

2. Sweetheart Cake - An 8" Heart shaped Devils Food Cake, filled with a Raspberry Cream Cheese, and covered with a Chocolate Fudge Frosting, then drizzled with Chocolate Ganache. Double Yum! Also available in Red Velvet, with Cream Cheese Frosting. A Sweet Deal at only $25 each...and that includes a written message if desired! (just keep it 'clean' haha)

Now for the ordering info; You have 48 hrs to make up your mind, and let me know what you will be wanting. (or until Thurs at 10pm). I will spend Friday/Sat baking, and have all items ready for PICKUP Sat Afternoon/Evening. No orders taken after Thurs night, I need to purchase special boxes, etc. Sorry. Leave orders HERE, under comments (with your contact info) OR Email me - carrot_top6@yahoo.com OR Call me;

LAST, ALL monies made off this Valentine Special will go directly to purchase my daughter Jenni's Temple Wedding Dress!! (she is the lovely young lady in the post below). She has already purchase her Official Wedding Dress, but it is light Ivory color to go with her fair complextion. I want to purchase the White Temple dress for her...a special gift from Mom.

Thanks Ladies! And Happy Eating!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's not Fair!

I found out today that my dearest, adorable, beautiful daughter Jenni is CHEATING me out of one of the best perks of being a 'MOB' (mother of the bride). You'll never guess what she did. Come on, give it a try...Whatever you guessed, you're probably WRONG. You know what my sneaky, sly, clever girl did????? She had her Fiancee Phil's address put down as the 'ship to' address for any gifts ordered off her Gift Registry!!!!
Do you realize what that means?!?!?! It means that any gifts she gets before the wedding, get delivered to HIS house, and I DON"T GET TO SEE THEM! And worse, I don't get the opportunity to 'borrow' anything, or 'try stuff out' ahead of time to make sure it works! Cause you know, I would just HATE her to get something like a Belgian Waffle Maker and discover the first time using it that is doesn't work. Yeah, I really try to being a loving, caring Mom...but she just doesn't give me the chance. (lol)

And one more thing...she even gave Phil all the Gift Cards she got at the Showers on Sat, so 'she' couldn't use them! Dang kids...

That's Ok, I'll just get back at her by posting embarrassing photos of her with Honeymoon Nighties. Bwahahahaha!

Love you Jen, and I had a great time at BOTH your bridal showers! (but couldn't you have at least slipped just ONE Target GC in my purse???)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Every few days on Facebook, I like to ask "What's for Dinner?"
Why? you ask...For one thing, it gives me a topic to post that people might respond to that might not usually reply to other posts. Another reason, it gives me new ideas for dinner time. There are an amazing number of great cooks out there in cyberland, and I think we should ALL have the opportunity the share our FOOD. lol. (ok, except maybe Hillary, and her chicken-noodles-mashed potatoes stuff. The jury is still out on this one) (love ya, Hil!)
And lastly, it gives me the chance to Google "dinner" images, and come up with this photo, titled - "Redneck Seafood Dinner" ROTFLOL, I kid you not!! My husband would KILL me if I made this, but my kids would probably LOVE it, especially Cami.

Bet ya didn't know, (well, how would you?) but most weeks I plan a Weekly Dinner Menu. I find my week goes so much smoother if I know in advance what I'm making for dinner any night of the week, instead of just 'flying by the seat of my pants'. I usually only plan Mon-Friday, cause I used to insist that I had 'weekends off', but in reality, I still do cook on weekends too...just not full-on dinners, unless we are BBQing or having company. (and THAT happens so often...not!) Planning menus ahead also lets me take advantage of what I've got hidden...er, 'stocked' in the freezer, and use grocery sale items too.

Also, by writing down menus, I can look back at previous menus to remind me of things we haven't had in awhile,(Steph begged me for 6 months to make Beef Enchiladas) or maybe have been having too often. (like those cheap Trader Joes Potstickers...sorry honey!) I can also look at my week, and figure that Wednesday, with Work, Mutual, and Musical Rehersal, (and accompaning taxi service) might not be a great day to make a time consuming Chicken Pot Pie from scratch. Or a day that I have 4 loaves of bread, 2 pans of cinnamon rolls, and a batch of cookies to bake, wouldn't be the best day to ALSO use the OVEN to cook Meat Loaf and Cheesy Pototoes. yep, did that the other day.

So, now that I've given you so many positive reasons to create a Weekly Dinner Menu...will you?? I'm gonna CHALLENGE you to do so this week! An to sweeten the pot, (haha) I'm going to offer a PRIZE! Post your weekly menu HERE (in my commnets) or on your OWN BLOG,(and leave a link here)...and you will be entered to win either a SEE'S CANDY GIFT CERTIFICATE, or a ONE LOAF of my HOMEMADE BREAD! (your choice of flavors). I'll post my menu first, to get your menu-planning juices flowing...the rest is up to you. I'll also try to post some of the recipes I use during the coming week. Sweet deal, no??

Here's my menu, lets see your's ;)

Monday - Pork Chimichangas (Pork cooked in Crockpot)with Homemade Guacamole, Green Salad
Tues - Pan Grilled Chicken Gryos, on homemade Flatbread, Steamed Broccoli
Wed - Crockpot Chili with Steamed Rice, Grated Cheese, and Cornbread Muffins
Thurs - Leftover BBQ Pork on Buns, French Fries, Fruit Salad
Friday - Ranch Chicken, Spanish Rice, Sauteed Squash

OH, and I haven't forgotten...someone will be WINNING a NUTTY SURPRISE in the next couple of days. Keep checking back for the winner! Hugs, and HAPPY EATING!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Well Folks, we have a WINNER!! Remember my post last week, about having my FIRST blog giveaway?? Bet you thought I forgot, huh?? Oh ye of little faith...tsk, tsk.

As soon as this upcoming crazy bridal shower weekend is over...AMY SUE will be feasting on a loaf of my Famous Cinnamon Swirl Bread!! WHoo-Hoo!! Congrats to YOU!!
(I'll give ya a shout-out on FB when I have it ready Amy)

Oh. Are you feeling bad that YOU didn't win anything?? Well, it's not too late. Here's your chance. Read yesterdays blog post, "Oh Nuts" and follow the directions in the post, and YOU too might be a lucky winner like Amy. Except next week it will be something 'Nut' related. Yes, it's a surprise, and I'm not telling yet. And Yes, I'm kinda mean that way...just ask my kids. Or better yet, my husband. ha!

Hugs and Happy Eating!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oh Nuts!!

Sorry, couldn't resist...had to follow up a post about 'Fudge', with a post about 'Nuts'. {Jessica, you can get your mind outta the gutter right now. I refuse to have my blog sink to an even lower level of degeneration}{lol} Anyway, I was thinking about nuts last night after making another banana split for my hubby.

He ALWAYS has to have chopped nuts on his banana split, and they ALWAYS have to be Pecans. The man loves his pecans. Must be the Okie in him. Make him Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans (instead of Walnuts) and he is happy. Give him a German Choc. Cake with Coconut-PECAN Icing and he is in heaven. Pecan Sticky Rolls, and he will swoon. And a Homemade Pecan Pie?? He'll do almost ANYTHING for a homemade Pecan Pie. {wink-wink, nudge-nudge} I meant mop the kitchen floor!!!! Sheesh, some of you people....! He also loves Cashews, but not really cooked in anything, just roasted-salted to eat out of hand.

Me?? I like almost any type of nuts, just depends on what they are being used for. Walnuts in my cookies, Pecans in my Praline, Almonds in my Asian Cabbage Salad, (and toffee!) My earliest 'nut' related memory though involves Pistachios. YUM! My Dad was in the Navy, and was the Ship Supply Clerk. (or something like that). He would occasionally bring home leftover goodies from the ship for us...like Ribeye Steaks, (that is where I get my love for rare Beef) Beer, (before we were re-activated LDS) and bags of those RED DYED PISTACHIOS. I would sit on the back step, and crack them open and eat them as fast as a 8 yr old could. The downside was red-stained fingers for the next 3 days, lol. And if I was really lucky, my Dad would shell them for me! No stained fingers! (yea, I was a bit spoiled)

All this Nutty rambling brings me to this...you should EAT MORE NUTS! They are healthy, and good for you. (in moderation) I love buying the HUGE bags at Costco, they are great quality. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE buying them at Sprouts. They put different types on sale every week, and considering the awesome quality of their nuts, the prices are GREAT! (i stocked up on 8 lbs of Pecans during the Holidays...and used them all)

So, what are YOUR favorite kinds of Nuts?? And what is your favorite way to eat them?? Leave a reply, and next week I will have a special NUTTY surprise for one of you! {{wink-wink, nudge-nudge}} haha! I'll let you know who the lucky winner is on Sunday.

Hugs and Happy Eating!!

ps...HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY to my youngest son, MICHAEL. (only a day early!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oh Fudge!

No really. Fudge! HOT Fudge! The dark, chocolatey goodness that dreams are made of. (oh come on, I know I'm not the only person that dreams of Hot Fudge...!)

I made some last night. Not in my dreams, but in REAL LIFE. In my kitchen, on my (messy) stove. Yea, you know you have a messy stove too...it just proves how much you use it! And after I made it, and we ate it on Banana Splits, I thought, "hey! this is so easy and good, i should post it on my blog!" (no, i don't use capital letters when i think)

A few notes on ingredients before we get to the recipe. Sometimes the brands of food I use in recipes doesn't matter. Like canned corn. If I'm making my Santa Fe Chicken Salad, the salsa doesn't care if the corn is Del Monte, or Stater Bros brand. (Salsa is not snobby like that. Jambalaya is, though.) However, other recipes definitely turn out better when certain brands are used. For instance:

Nestles Chocolate Chip (semi sweet) are the BEST tasting, reasonably priced Chocolate Chip you can buy. Don't buy store brands to try to save a few $$. Your finished recipe will not taste as good. maybe even nasty. I get these in like 18 lb bags (ok, only 5 lbs) at Sams Club or Costco. And I go thru ALOT of them. At least one huge bag a month. You might say our family is full of chocoholics. Better than booze, right??

Now, at the other end of the brand name thing, is Sweetened Condensed Milk.

<< -----Most people use this one. Guess what?? You don't have to! There are 3-4 brands of sweetened condensed milk on your store shelves, and ALL of THEM are cheaper that this one! At my grocery store, Eagle Brand averages $3.00 a can. The other brands average around $2.00 a can, and I regularly find them for 2/$3 !! That is HALF the cost of Eagle Brand! And it tastes the same! And works the same! I'm embarrassed to say, it took me quite a few years to discover this. But now I only buy <<--- if it is on sale cheaper than $1.50 a can. (Sams club had a 4 pack last week, for $3.80. yep, i bought it) Anyway. I do't want none ya'll sayin ya didn't git ya sum ed-chu-ka-shun from mah blog.

Without further ado...(i always wanted an excuse to say that) here it is;


1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 Cups Chocolate Chips

1 Cup mini-Marshmellows

1/2 Cup Milk (just the stuff outta the fridge)

1 t. Vanilla

pinch of Salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, to keep the chocolate from burning. Keep stirring until all the marshmellows are melted and mixed in. (this will take 5-10 min. It's worth it, really.)

Serve this over a Banana Split, make a Hot Fudge Sundae, smother a Hot Fudge Brownie, pour over Pancakes, (ok, just kidding about the pancakes. maybe.) or practice fingerpainting your Honey. (hey, no one ever said this blog was 'G' rated!)

Keep any leftovers in a container in the fridge. Hide from the kids if neccessary.

Hugs, and Happy Eating!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kung POW Chicken

My family LOVES Asian food. Any type of Asian food. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, even Cambodian. (we have a Cambodian ward in our Stake, so we've ate our share of it) Living in SoCal, we're blessed with many resturant options if we want some type of Asian meal.

On the 'low' end, there is Panda Express...(who doesn't love their Orange Chicken??). My husband won't eat there. (you're not surprised, are you?) Mid range is Pic-up Stix, which has those lovely Cream Cheese Wontons. Husband WILL eat there, but not the Wontons. 'High' end would be PF Changs, or their little brother, Pei Wei. I don't think there is anything on their menus my husband WON'T eat, lol.
Now, you also have your small, privately owned places,...our Favorite until recently was a Thai resturant, Siam Palace, over in Los Alamitos. But then the owner (Kelly. Yes, we knew her name) sold it to one of her employees. Not the same...sadness.

We love to eat out. However, considering the size of our family, and our up and down financial situation, eating out is rarely feasible. So, being the 'awesome' cook that I am, (direct quote from all my kids.) I try to cook many of our Asian Resturant favs at home. I am always on the lookout for recipes that will please hubby's 'high end' tastes, but fit my 'low end' budget.

I've found great recipes in cookbooks, and magazines, but most of our recent favorite copy-cat Asian recipes have come from food blogs. (some of my favorite food blogs are on my sidebar). This recipe, which we had again tonight, comes from Suzanne's food blog, Creating Post it Notes. Suzanne is a GREAT cook and baker. We 'met' on a scrapbooking message board, where I lurked on her blog for quite awhile before finally introducing myself to her. Suzanne is LDS, and owned her own small bakery in Florida. (yes, I'm jealous) She now lives in New York, and plans to go to Culinary School in the near future! (still jealous) Go Suzanne!! She is very generous with sharing her WONDERFUL recipes with her blog readers, for which I am so grateful. My White and Wheat Breads are based on her recipes.

Here is the Kung Pao Chicken recipe, which I changed just a bit to work with the ingredients I have. (you can see the original on her website) This serves 4 adults, but I always double it for our family. You can also adjust the heat, by adding or subtracting Chili Peppers.

**Watch the "t's" in my recipes. BIG T = Tablespoon little t = teaspoon **

Suzanne's Kung Pao Chicken (photo above is from Suzanne's blog)
4-5 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (i buy those big bags frozen from Costco)

2 T. Cornstarch
2 T. Soy Sauce
2 T Sake, or Rice Wine, or Cooking Wine
1 T. Vegetable Oil

Cut up Chicken into bite-size pieces, put in bowl or Ziplock bag. Combine all marinade ingredients, pour over chicken, mix well and let sit for about 30 minutes. Prepare Stirfry Sauce.

Stirfry Sauce:
2 T Soy Sauce
1 T Sugar
1 teaspoon Vinegar
2 T Water
1 T Cornstarch
(you might want to double this, if you like alot of sauce on your chicken)

Mix all together in bowl, and set aside. Prep the veggies.

1 bunch Green Onions, sliced
2 T grated Ginger, either fresh or from a jar
2 cloves of Garlic, or minced from jar
1/4 C roasted Peanuts
1 can sliced Water Chestnuts, coarsly chopped (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (depending on how hot you want it)

To Cook: Heat 1 T oil in wok or large frying pan. Add chicken, and cook until almost done. Remove from pan and set aside. Wash pan.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in pan. Add garlic and ginget, sauteing for about 20 seconds. Add chili flakes, continue sauteing for another minute, then add peanuts. Stir well, add water chestnuts, chicken, and stir fry sauce. Stir to coat, let cook until thickened. Add green onions, stir well, and serve.

Menu: Kung POW Chicken over Steamed Rice
Chow Mein or Trader Joes Pot Stickers (yum!)
Fresh Fruit, like sliced melon,...or steamed veggie, like broccoli

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls and Sloppy Joes

I've had a few requests from readers (all 4 of you) asking me to start posting recipes. Sure! Cause I have absolutely nothing else to do but spend *another* half hour on the computer. {eyeroll} Just kidding!! Actually, I'm rather flattered that there are people out there that want MY recipes. So, being the 'giving' person that I am, I have decided that I WILL start sharing recipes.
(NOTE; many, if not most of my recipes come from cookbooks, blogs, and cooking websites. I will try to cite the source if possible. I am not creative enough to come up with original recipes, but I do seem to have a good eye for finding recipes that will work for me and my family.)

As per the first request I got, from Amy-Sue, here is my Sloppy Joe recipe. It is from an old Mormon Cookbook, titled 'Mormon Country Cooking'. All 6 of my kids will eat this, except the oldest son, who will only eat it if I leave out the onions. He has texture issues. sheesh!

Jones Family SLOPPY JOES

2 lbs Hamburger
1 large Yellow Onion, finely chopped (the finer it's chopped, the less the kids will notice it)
1 can Tomato Soup
1/2 C. Ketchup (Heinz is the best!)
1/4 C Brown Sugar, packed
2 t. Chili Powder
2 t. Worcestershire Suace
1 t. Salt
1 t. Dry Mustard (or couple squirts of bottle mustard if thats all you have)

Chop Onion, spread in large frying pan. Top with Hamburger, turn on heat to medium high, and cook till hamburger is browned, stirring occasionally. Drain any fat off meat mixture, return to pan. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, simmer for 10-20 minutes. Serve on Hamburger Buns.

NOTE; you can adjust the spices on this, but it is not spicy at all. You can also add more brown sugar if you want it sweeter.

Now, on to CINNAMON ROLLS! Nope, sorry...you're not getting the recipe. I'm not THAT dumb, haha. I'm offering a Cinnamon Roll Special for the next 3 days. (that Tues-Wed-Thurs)
Order a pan of Cinnamon Rolls, and get a coupon for a FREE DOZEN Chocolate Chip Cookies!
The coupon will be good for 2 months, just give me a couple days notice before using.
The Cinnamon Rolls come in a 9x13 pan, 12 LARGE, FLUFFY, OOEY-GOOEY BUNS of GOODNESS, for only $10. Made will all the best ingredients...Butter, Milk, Eggs, Cinnamon, Sugar, More Butter...YUM! (For a photo of all that yummy goodness, go down a 5-6 posts.)

To Order, leave me a comment here, or send a message to me on Facebook. Or call my cell if you must; 500-4859. Thanks!! And Happy Eating!!

Dear Santa Claus

Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl this year. I've only yelled at 2 kids, forgot to wash underwear once, took Cami out to deliever flyers for 2 hours so she could earn $$, threatened to wash out only 1 kids mouth, and only said 'h*ll' once in conversation. Not bad, considering it's only the 4th week of January.
Since I'm on a such a good girl roll, I thought I'd start my Wish List now. Just so if you are chatting it up with the Elves, you can get started on my stuff. Cause I could use these things SOONER, rather than later. Maybe you could pass this info on to the Easter Bunny?? I'm expecting him in a couple of months. Thanks!

#1 - A Beater Blade for my KitchenAid Mixer. It scrapes the sides of the bowl, so you don't have to stop the mixer and do it yourself. Cool, huh??

#2 - For my injured shoulder to stop hurting, and finish healing before the wedding. 3 months is long enough, I'd also like a full nights sleep, if it's not too much to ask. Seriously, I have sewing to do, and computer work to do, and WORK work to do....NO PAIN Please!

#3 - A job for husband. Where he gets paid in REAL $$$. (not a commission only, 6-8 months down the line. sheesh) And comes with Health Insurance. And Dental too, as long as we're wishing.

#4 -One of these please, that works. ---->
Color and Brand don't matter. Really Large would be great.
I loved my most recent (free!) dryer, but the heating element quit, and cost too much $$$ replace. Sadness. Thank goodness for sunny days and clotheslines!
#5 - More Carpet Cleaning jobs for our business. And less rain, cause when it rains too much, everyone cancels their carpet cleaning. No carpet cleaning = no $$ to pay basic bills.
#6 - Customers that need Wedding Cakes or other large baking orders. I have to bake many loaves of bread just to fill up my gas tank. A few big cakes would really be helpful, and result in higher per hour $$ for me.
#7 - Continued Health and Strength for our Family, and Friends. Apprieciation for the Love and Support we've been shown the last year. Gratitude for the Blessing we do have, try not to dwell on the Hardships.
Thanks Santa for your consideration. Love, the Jones Family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And in the Baking World today...

BREAD! BREAD! BREAD! (yes, you read that correctly...BREAD!)

As I mentioned in Saturdays Post, I was gifted a nice size amount of Flour on Sat. Wheat, and White. Along with Eggs, Dry Milk, and Veggie Oil. Guess what?? Those are all items I use in my Homemade Bread! Yea!

I've decided that I will share the Bounty with You, my 4 blogs readers. (ha) For this week only, you can get my wonderful HUGE loaves of bread for only $4 a loaf! There is a catch, though. (isn't there always??) I'm only doing Country White or Honey Wheat at that price. AND, you have to order a minimum of 2 loaves of bread...either 2 White, 2 Wheat, or 1 of each. I think you will agree, after tasting my bread, that it is the best homemade bread you've ever eaten...or your money back. Wait, nevermind that last part,...I'm not giving any money back, hehe. Oh, these are LARGE loaves of Bread, or did I mention that already??

Here are photos of Homemade Bread. These are NOT my photos, it hasn't occured to me to take pics of my Bread yet until now,...but these pics, ('borrowed' from the internets) look the closest to my Bread.
To Order- The BEST way to order Bread from me this week is by leaving a comment here on the Blog, OR send me a Facebook Message. You can also email me at carrot_top6@yahoo.com but for some reason, I missed getting a few emails last week. darn. Leave your order, and either email or phone # for me to get back to you. Your order will be put in my baking 'lineup' for the week, and I will let you know when it's ready.

OH, and a gentle reminder...I do ALL KINDS of Baked goods. Cakes, Brownies, Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls, I even consider special requests, just let me know what you need. (ex: I'm baking a Double Chocolate Fudge Cake for someone at Church tomorrow!)

Must get back to my Kitchen...and KitchenAid...I have more bread to mix! BYE!

Trouble, Trouble...

What can I do to get into Trouble this week? Due to a delay in my boss getting his pallet of books, I'm still off from work for ONE MORE WEEK. I really do have a lot of things I can do around here,...just trying to prioritize and figure out what is the most appealing.

Should I work on a bridal shower gift idea for this girl??--->
(she really is cuter in real life, lol)
Wedding is March 27th, don't forget!

Or get some more baking started?? Maybe laundry, while the sun is shining and I can hang out the clothes?? Oh, I really should get my dinner into the crockpot, it needs a few hours to cook. (French Dip Sandwiches, yum) And it might be a good idea if I get the little girls Wedding Party dresses cut out, so Jessica can get started sewing...

WAIT! I've Got It!! {{handslap to forehead}} A SHOWER!!!!!!! Bye!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Flour Power! And a Giveaway!!

I woke up this morning, and slowly opened my eyes. What was that weird light coming in thru the window?? Ahhh...it was the SUN!! Hello Sunshine! I Love you! My wet towels that need to be hung out to dry Love you 2 !!
Looks like we made it thru a week of very wet weather with only a hole in the boys bedroom ceiling as damage. Hopefully you survived in one piece too??

Flour Power = A friend is on a low carb/no carb diet. She cleaned out her cupboards yesterday, and sent me a PILE of high carb goodies. And a few bags of FLOUR; whole wheat and white! Yea me! Since I have so much nice flour waiting to be used, (along with fat free milk?!) I'm having a BREAD Special. Get 2 loaves of either Honey Wheat Bread or Country White Bread for only $8. (That's $4 a loaf for those of you that went to school in LB. ha.) Order anytime today or Sunday, your bread will be available Mon/Tues. Your name will also be entered TWICE in my giveaway. Next...

In honor of the SUNSHINE, I am having a "Sunny Saturday Special", AND a giveaway!
The Special: Order a tray of Magic Cookie Bars (20 large bars) (also known as Hello Dolly's) within the next 6 hrs, and be entered TWICE in my giveaway. The bars will be available for pickup TODAY, after 4pm!! (or tomorrow, by arrangement) These are soooo yummy...graham cracker crust, choc chips, coconut, walnuts, with ooey-gooey sweetened condensed milk smothering the whole thing. MMmmm. The cost; Only $12 for a tray of 20.

Now, the giveaway. Order either or both of the specials today, and be entered in a drawing for a FREE loaf of my famous Cinnamon Swirl Bread. It's great for toasting or making into french toast! Don't feel like ordering anything right now? Then leave me a comment or link me to your blog, and still be entered once in the giveaway.
To Order; Email me at carrot_top6@yahoo.com or call me @ 562-500-4859 (cell)

Hugs, and Happy SUNNY Saturday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ehhh, What's Up Doc??

Carrots make me think of Bugs Bunny,...loved him as a kid, more as a grownup (could apprieciate the 'adult' humor)...so, that is the reason for the title. LOL.

Speaking of Carrots, my RAINY DAY SPECIAL for WED is...CARROT CAKE!! Here's the deal: Order a Carrot Cake from me TODAY, pick it up on FRIDAY for the weekend. An 8" Round Carrot Cake, Cream Cheese Frosting (no nuts), ONLY $20 !! What a steal! It will look just like the one right there on my blog, but 2 layers instead of 3, and no nuts. It serves 12-15, and keeps for days. Not that it will be around that long, hehe. Makes a great dessert to have on hand for family or guests this weekend. Or hide in a closet and eat half of it yourself...I won't tell. This cake if from an ollllllld family recipe, and has earned me a (good) reputation in my ward. I'm probably gonna have to make one of Jenni's wedding cake tiers Carrot Cake, to satisfy my family's love for it.

And here's a heads up for tomorrows special: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins AND Handmade Soft Flatbread!! Both are 'da bomb'...I mean, 'da macaroni'. Don't ask, loooong story. Just trust me. More info on both these goodies tomorrow! Stay tuned. Or as Elmer Fudd would say, "I'm off to catch that Wascally Wabbit" Happy Baking!!