Cheese Straws – Southern or not, mostly delicious

Although my friend Mo and her mom Cat might deny that Cheese Straws are indeed a Southern Classic; I made them and they are wonderful…but what do you eat them with?  The boys “liked them” but the oldest said they dried his mouth out a little and maybe some ham on them would be better.

Below is the recipe I used.  I am not sure I will make them again anytime soon.  Maybe I am not Southern enough or maybe I just wasn’t the biggest fan.  I have read other recipes and they say to bake until crisp.  Maybe I just need to play around with these some more.

I think more salt, and maybe some dry mustard would be an improvement or even some bacon grease, but then again there are very few things that bacon grease doesn’t improve in the kitchen.  Even our cat Thai would likely agree to this idea!


Our family cat: Thai


Sifting the dry ingredients together.


Creaming the butter and cheese together.  Total nightmare. Next time I am using the stand Mixer. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cool it buddy!


All finished


A little less than 2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t kosher salt

2 sticks butter, at room temperature ( apparently softer than 2 hours in a 73 degree house)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese although I hear parmesan works great too.

The How To:

Preheat the oven to 310 degrees F.

Use a mixer to cream together the butter and the cheese then set this aside.  At this point I was ready to throw in the towel because cheese and not quite soft enough butter were flinging  all over the kitchen.  Sift the flour, cayenne pepper and salt together  into a bowl.  Add the dry mixture 1/2 cup at a time into the creamed butter and cheese.  I was told to pipe them onto a cookie sheet using a large star tip.  That wasn’t going to happen in a million years.   I did not get a soft batter but more like a soft pie dough consistency.  Luckily my husband had a cookie spritzer and I used that, which was the perfect tool in my opinion.

Bake for about 15 minutes until set and lightly toasted.  Cool on cookie racks.


Bánh mì for me


I have been craving a Bánh mì sandwich for about 2 weeks now.  It is an extremely satisfying sandwich; the crunch of the baguette, creamy mayonnaise, heat from the serrano chili, refreshing citrusy notes from the cilantro and the richness of the pork all combine to make kitchen magic.

They sell them everywhere in the Vietnamese section of town about 10 miles from where I live.  However close that might seem somehow, as most foodies do, I rationalized that it would be easier and better to go to the market buy the missing pieces and make it myself.


I have never made one myself so the recipe below is mine and mine alone.  I left out the carrot because it is my kitchen after all and I couldn’t buy just one carrot.   I also substituted daikon radish sprouts for actual daikon radish; sprouts and I typically do not get along.  I like the texture and look of them but there is this certain dirty taste to them I cannot shake so I might pluck those off.

The bahn mi came out better than good, but not great – easy fix.

I marinated the pork tenderloin for 2 hours in :

1t minced garlic

1/4 t lime zest

1t chopped cilantro

1/3 cup soy sauce

3T rice vinegar

1/3 light brown sugar – not packed

I grilled the pork tenderloin until it reached an internal temperature of 160 and then removed it from the grill and wrapped it in foil until it settled and reached 170 degrees.  So far so good.  This was a great pork tenderloin; juicy and flavorful.




I then split the baguette and hollowed out a small trough on both sides.  I spread the baguette with a lime mayonnaise  (1/4 cup mayonnaise with the juice of one lime) that I added a pinch of salt and 1/3 of a serrano chili minced.  This is where I went wrong.  The sandwich was missing its signature heat.  I wish I had used more serrano and I will for the next one I eat.

I then layered slices of the pork, cilantro and the daikon radish sprouts. Remember when I said I didn’t know how I would like the sprouts? I LOVED them.  They provided some of the crunch that was missing with the omitted carrot and had wonderful flavor and texture.





Scallions, Green Onions or Chives

Two or three days a week when I am picking up my very boring lunch in the company provided “cafe” I hear people asking for chives on their baked potato while pointing to scallions.  There is a distinct difference between scallions, green onions and chives.

A scallion should not have a white bulb on the bottom but will usually have a white portion towards the bottom.  A green onion has a small white bulb on the bottom and is a young onion.  A chive is an herb and the smallest edible member of Allium schoenoprasum. 

All three are members of the Allium family with each offering different tastes.  Chives offer a very delicate flavor and when cut look like tiny beautiful green bugle beads.  Not to downplay green onions and scallions but chives will always be my favorite.  You can even tie asparagus bundles with them for a beautiful presentation.

We could go on from here to cover other members of the onion family up to and including garlic chives but really I just needed a moment to clarify the difference because I am craving the perfect scrambled eggs with smoked Gouda and chives.


Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches | Iowa Girl Eats

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches | Iowa Girl Eats.

I was just going to post this recipe to celebrate my new Crockpot, but Kristin had already done such a bag-up job I figured I would save myself the time and share her blog.

I have made this recipe many many many times and it is amazing.  I bring it to work when we have department potlucks and it is always a big hit.  My two sons, 7 and 10 both devour it as well.  My husband loves it but says it stinks up the house when I make it.

I usually brown the meat in a pan before chucking it into the Crockpot because the Crockpot doesn’t do it.  I like the extra layer of flavor that caramelizing the outside of the meat provides to the overall flavor.

The last time I made it I used something other than Chuck roast and it became too finely shredded so it is up to you, but I didn’t think it was as good.

Snooze; because we weren’t

Good Morning,

I have been awake for 5 hours already.  One of the blessings and quite possibly the only blessing that comes with waking up early in the morning is you get to eat at all the wonderful breakfast eateries before they have huge lines.  I do not live in communist China where I would typically be required to wait in line for food; this is a good thing because when there is a line to eat, I typically skip eating somewhere.

Jeff junior and I were up early enough that we were able to get dressed, take the dogs out and go somewhere fun for breakfast.  I chose to go to Snooze Eatery for breakfast. I haven’t had a chance to go because my other son likes to sleep in and by the time he graces the world with his sunny smile Saturday morning there is already a line.

Our server immediately offered to bring me a generous hot cup of coffee that is organically grown and flown in weekly from Guatemala.

I had a combination of Ham Benedict III ”The classic evolved with our signature English muffin topped with shaved hickory smoked ham, perfectly poached Niman Ranch Cage Free Eggs and smoked cheddar hollandaise.” and Chilaquiles Benedict “Flavorful barbacoa beef over a stack of ranchero sauced tortillas and melted cheese, with poached Niman Ranch Eggs and cream cheese hollandaise, pico de gallo and cotija cheese.”  WOW.  They sure were delicious.  Apparently they get their eggs from Niman Ranch, which you can read about here.  Beautiful eggs with delicious golden yokes.

Jeffrey had a kids meal of a breakfast quesadilla, hash-browns, fruit: strawberries, pineapple and grapes not the warm melon you get some places, and a chocolate milk.

I cannot begin to describe the hash-brown potatoes.  They may very well be the best I have ever had.  The were stacked beautifully and absolutely delicious; seasoned to perfection.  There are not words.  I eat potatoes as an excuse for eating ketchup.  I did not need ketchup on these.

Our wonderful server whose name I wrote down and have now misplaced truly seemed to enjoy her job and her attitude was as flawless as the food.

About halfway through our meal another cheery girl appeared at our table with a pancake the size or my head, and said “this is from your server”.  Wait, what?  What she delivered I eyed suspiciously.  I am not a pancake fan.  They are usually heavy or chewy and covered in sugary fake syrup.  Oh no.  Not this one.  This beauty was a cinnamon roll pancake with white chocolate chips, pecans, vanilla anglaise, I think maple syrup and cinnamon butter.  Despite having finished our meals, Jeff and I split it and ate 99% of the heavenly gift.  I do not know if I could eat just these pancakes as they were almost a breakfast dessert, but they sure are amazing.

The atmosphere at Snooze was bright and open and a mix between metal and wood beams and 1950′s sputnik embroidered booths.  They have a few round tables with curved benches around them that are too cute not to sit at the next time I go, which might just be tomorrow morning.   I have my eye on Snooze Spuds Deluxe ”A heaping portion of our hash browns, covered with melted cheddar & jack cheese, scallions plus two veggies , meats, or combo of your choice …Sooo good with a Niman Egg or two”  A whole bowl of those hash-browns covered in melted cheese?  Yes please.

We were out the door including a large glass of what i believe to be freshly squeezed OJ, coffee, breakfast for two for about $28.00 and it was worth every copper penny.

Enjoy your day, Jeff and I both need a nap.



Chocolate Pudding Cake

I got a new Crockpot for Christmas and wanted to try something new.  I sound this recipe online and thought it was cheap enough to try out.  It cost me about six dollars including the vanilla ice cream.  Everyone loved it.  It is like a soft lava cake had a love child with a brownie sundae.

A gooey version of chocolate pudding cake from the slow cooker.


  • 1 package chocolate cake mix (any 2-layer size)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding (any size) I used the whole bag because I bought the mini chips
  • 1 small bag (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. water


Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Mix all ingredients together. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours Try not to lift the lid. Serve with ice cream

It isn’t so simple as it seems I thought it would be.

cinnamon jelly beans.

That is how it started today, really started.  Junior went into our bedroom without permission and stole some candy.  It obviously isn’t about candy.  Our kids don’t eat candy very regularly so had he ASKED for candy he could have had some.

I’m hurt and scared that he stole them.  I’m scared that this is not a phase he is going through and that it will lead to a life of crime.  It can be immensely difficult to break free from a life of drugs, alcohol, and other shady things.  I am deeply deeply afraid that my son is heading down that road.  He is almost 8.  I do not know if these are my own demons looking for a new home or if this is his own journey.

I have a past that I am not proud of.  I have changed in ways that I have never thought possible, but this isn’t my story today.

I am hurt because I would give my son anything I could to make him a well-rounded ,safe and happy boy.  Am i messing this whole parenting thing up?

We love how you parent…

The other day  I was lamenting “what am I doing wrong with this kid; I must be the worlds worst parent”  when the woman in charge of our sons before and after school program relayed to me that the group leaders along with herself relayed to me that the love how you parent the boys.

The truth is I am a hybrid parent.  I am usually very tough on the boys because the level of structure they need  equals the amount of plastic surgery done on Joan Rivers, Cher and Meg Ryan combined.  I love them, but TIm and I don’t let a whole lot slide.  Under that tough exterior I am part squishy teddy bear and part king of the jungle.  My sons can warm my heart in an instant, sincere or not, and though usually I am declaring that I will indeed handle this issue with them when we get home, I will disembowel, filet, dice into bits any person who gets out of line with either of my sons.

Just last week I learned that Junior was getting up and sneaking out of class to go on “adventures” without an adult during the school day.  First things first, I dealt with Junior and then after it kept happening for about a week I tore into the principal about why it was still happening.  It is a huge liability and safety issue to have a seven year old wandering the school grounds.  All the gates and doors are locked during the day I was assured (because seven year olds cannot climb fences ).  I had to actually ask to have his desk moved to a spot where the teacher can see him while she is teaching.  ROAR.

I get that this is unusual and that most teachers and schools are simply not trained or equipped to deal with a child that has this level of ADHD.