Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Have you ever eaten at The Kolache Factory?  We used to be a frequent visitor when we lived in Indiana.   I haven't had one in years but ran across this recipe a few days ago.  It instantly brought back wonderful memories of these little buns filled with random goodness! While I won't say they are exactly the same as the real thing, they were still pretty amazing and addictive as well.  At the end of the meal it was hard to remember how many of these I devoured. 

They are a bit time consuming to make but I had a lot of fun with it. It was the perfect thing to make during our day of subzero temperatures. The filling combinations are endless. You can pretty much stuff them with whatever you like.  Here are the combos I made:

1. Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese 
2. Hotdogs (cut in half)
3. Sausage and Cheddar Cheese
4. Scrambled Eggs, Sweet Peppers, and Sausage
5. BBQ Chicken

The pepperoni ones turned out to be my favorite. I sprinkled some oregano on top right before baking them. They are pretty amazing if you serve them with a side of pizza sauce!


Some of them came out with too much bread and not enough filling.  At the time, I felt like I was putting a ton of filling inside; however once the bread was done rising and baking, the bread to filling ratio was off.  So make sure you roll the dough balls out thin and put LOTS of filling inside.

Here's a prime example of how my BBQ chicken and Egg kolaches had too much bread and not enough filling.  They were still good...just a lesson learned for next time!


What a great experiment. I always love trying new recipes! This recipe came from Homemade Mamas. If you do decide to make this recipe, check out her website for some great step by step pictures.

Source: Homemade Mamas

1 package of active dry yeast
1 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
4 c.all-purpose flour 
2 eggs for dough
1/2 c. melted butter
1 t. of salt
1 egg for egg wash

This will make about 24 kolaches. I doubled the recipe so we'd have enough to eat for a couple days.

1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk (105-110 degrees), sugar and one cup of flour. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.

2. In a small bowl beat the 2 eggs, slowly add the 1/2 cup of melted butter and salt.

3. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and mix.

4. Mix in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. It is a really soft, sticky dough.

5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on a well floured surface. (I used my kitchen aid mixer.) Place dough in a well greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size - about an hour.

6. While the dough is rising, get your fillings ready.

7. After dough has risen, punch it down and pull off egg-sized pieces. In your hands, roll pieces into balls and then flatten to about 4 inches in diameter. 

8. Spoon about 1 1/2 or 2 Tbls of filling.

9. Close dough around filling. Pinch it shut and place seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 20 min. Preheat oven 375 degrees.

10. Beat the third egg. Before you bake the kolaches, brush with egg. If you are making a couple different flavors, you may want to mark them. For example, I sprinkled oregano on the pepperoni ones. 

11.Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. They will be lightly golden brown when they are done.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

South Beach Food Tour

I was able to escape the extreme cold and snow this weekend and tag along with my hubby to Miami, Florida on a business trip.  While he was in a meeting all day Friday, I jumped in a cab over to South Beach and went on a culinary tour. I had a similar experience in New York City several years ago so my expectations were high. Our tour guide, Grace, was super sweet and took us on a 2 hour walking food tour to 7 mom and pop (hole in the wall) restaurants that had the most amazing food! We also got to walk down Ocean Drive and get a bit of history along the way.

I took pictures of what we ate and drank along the way so I could share it with you all. Saying that I was stuffed afterwards is an understatement!

Our first stop was Bolivar Restaurant on Washington Avenue. They served us a traditional Columbian drink called Refajo.  It was a Aguila beer mixed with a Columbian soda.  It was sweet, refreshing, and quenched my thirst.  I was impressed already! :)


Next they brought out a plate with ceviche - diced fresh fish marinated in a citrus passionfruit juice, Columbian corn (a type of corn that never pops when you heat it up) that was crunchy and slightly resembles the consistency of peanuts.

The second stop we grabbed a churro at Manolo's and kept on walking.  This churro was the best I've ever had! They were made from scratch, still warm, and were filled with dulce de leche! Yum!!!!

Stop #3 was David's Cafe for a cafe Cubano.  These little shots of Cuban expresso are served in tiny cups and meant to be shared with groups of people.  The serving size was about the size of an individual coffee creamer container but has as much caffeine as a standard cup of American coffee. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't stand even the smallest hint of coffee flavor but I did keep an open mind and tried a sip.  The entire group (except for me) loved it.

Next up was Polo Norte Cuban Restaurant for sweet plantains and a traditional Cuban sandwich. The sandwich was a mojo roasted pork with sauteed onions. Is your mouth watering yet?

Stop # 5 was featured on the Food Network. Charlotte Bakery is known for having the best empanadas. We were each given an Argentine empanada to try. It was served with an avocado/cilantro sauce and was so flaky and full of flavor!

By now I am getting so full but this food is some of the best I've ever had so I just keep on going! Our next place was Italian and called Block's Pizza Deli. They served a Sundried Hippie Panouzzo pocket that was stuffed full of sun dried tomatoes, feta, baby spinach, basil pesto, and kalamata olives. Oh my! This was to die for!

At this point, I am wondering if I can possibly swallow any more food. But...there is ALWAYS room for dessert and our last stop, Milani Gelateria, served an impressive display of gelatos.  It was in the coolest freezer display that I've ever seen. The different flavors of gelato inside rotated clockwise so you were able to get a good view of all the different flavors they offered. Once the employee opened the door, he stopped the rotation and was able to scoop out the gelato.  We were allowed to choose two flavors to try so I went with Cream Caramel and Banana.   Even though I was on the verge of a food coma, this was the perfect end to our tour! The banana gelato was my favorite but I'm sure they were all good!

What a fun tour! Spending two hours walking around South Beach in the 75 degree weather, taking in all the wonderful sights, and eating amazing food.  It was perfect! If anyone is in the South Beach area I highly recommend looking up Miami Culinary Food Tours. Grace was such a fun tour guide as well as all the people on my tour.  Some were from Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas; and even Sweden.

The only logical next thing to do was head back to the hotel room and take a much needed NAP!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Korean Beef Bowl

One of the many cool things about being married to my hubby is that he has introduced me to so many new cuisines that I would never have tried before I met him.  Some we have even tried for the first time together.  A prime example is sushi. Never in a million years would I imagine myself eating raw fish on rice, but I am now in love with it.  On several occasions, we've also tried Indian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Jamaican and Korean food to name a few. These are all very common restaurant choices for us now and I enjoy them all!

One of my favorite Korean dishes is called Bibimbap. Bibimbap is a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables and chili pepper paste. A fried egg and sliced meat are common additions. These ingredients are stirred together just before eating. 

That is one of the reasons I love the recipe below so much.  It resembles bibimbap but without the vegetables and chili pepper paste.  A simplified version if you will.  The second reason I love this recipe is because it was SUPER fast and easy to make! It doesn't get any easier than this to get dinner on the table.

The original recipe doesn't call for a fried egg on top but it's a must.  It makes it that much better - like icing on the cake!  I served this dish with some pot stickers and my family (excluding my picky 3 year old) devoured it.  This will now become a staple meal in our house because it was delicious and quick.

Korean Beef Bowl
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

1 lb. ground beef
⅓ c. brown sugar
¼ c. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes
¼ t. ground ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
cooked rice for serving
2 green onions, sliced
Sesame seeds
Eggs, sunny side up (optional)

In a skillet, brown beef and garlic. Drain off any excess grease.

In the meantime, in a bowl add brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger. Whisk until combined and set aside. (You can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes depending on how spicy you like it.)

Add the sauce mixture that you set aside to the beef. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, and a fried egg.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Greek Chicken

It's an understatement when I tell you this dish is amazing! First of all, I love olives. Green olives, black olives, kalamata olives, olives stuffed with garlic...I love them all!  So this dish immediately caught my eye when I saw it on Pinterest.  It turned out wonderful! I served it with white rice and a side of green beans. It makes quite a lot of chicken, but it was so good that we didn't end up with very many leftovers. We all found ourselves going back for more. 

The recipe also calls for Spanish olives which I thought I had on hand but realized I didn't once I started cooking.  Feta cheese is also optional.  I chose to leave that out but some of you may want to toss that in as well.

Greek Chicken
Source: Virginia is for hunter gatherers
4 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 16 oz jar artichoke hearts, quartered
8-10 oz pitted kalamata olives (4-5 oz whole, 4-5 oz halved)
9-10 oz large Spanish olives, pimento stuffed (I unfortunately didn't have these in my pantry.)
10 large cloves garlic, grated
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. dried thyme
2 T. dried oregano
1 16 oz container feta cheese

Pat chicken dry, and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix all other ingredients except chicken. Add chicken and mix thoroughly.  Allow to marinate at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

After marinading (add feta if using) and preheat the oven to 450ºF. Cover with foil, and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, uncovering for the final 5-10 minutes, until juices from the chicken run clear when poked with a fork. Serve in a shallow bowl with a combination of chicken and marinade ingredients. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Minecraft Lego Birthday Party

My 1st grader turned 7 yesterday and we had a big party to celebrate! His two favorite things right now are Minecraft and Legos so we incorporated those into his party.  Two teachers from our local Bricks 4 Kidz came to organize the activities and games for the party.  The kids got to build motorized Lego cars, have free play with thousands of Legos and play some Minecraft games. They had so much fun! Then we enjoyed cake, ice cream, cookies, and Creeper Juice (aka water).  It was such a fun afternoon!

Here's the bright green creeper cake I made...

Minecraft creeper and "7" sugar cookies...

Creeper Juice...also known as water.  I just bought a case of water bottles at the grocery store, removed the labels, and purchased these wraps from Etsy for $3.95.  It's just a file that I printed on card stock at home, cut them out, and used shipping tape to wrap them around the water bottles.

Number 7 Lego sign made out of existing Legos that we already had...perfect for part of the decorations.

Utensil holder that the birthday boy put together himself. I then washed and sanitized it before placing the forks inside...

In the Minecraft video game, everything is in square blocks.  So I also made (but not pictured) blue jello jiggler squares that represented water.  My son had so much fun on his birthday and LOVED all the Minecraft and Lego inspired decorations and food.  So much so that he said, "This was the best birthday EVER!!!"  That's enough to make this momma smile from ear to ear.

Happy Birthday sweetie! I love you so much!!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Baby it's COLD outside!!!! So this soup was just perfect for dinner last night!

I went in to the bakery this morning to work on a large cupcake order and the temperature was -15 degrees F!  I went in with 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of socks, and 2 shirts underneath all my winter gear and it made for great working conditions. The bakery can be rather cold at times since it's almost 100 years old so I was prepared this time.

I love chicken pot pie so I was sure I would love this soup as well.  I used Gina's skinny recipe over at but I made mine a little more "not so skinny" by using 2% milk instead of skim milk. My family likes their soup on the thicker side so I ended up adding a cornstarch slurry to the end of the recipe because the flour didn't make it as thick as I wanted.  The verdict?  It was wonderful and hit the spot on our bone chilling winter night! 

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

1/4 c. flour 
2 c. water 
4 c. fat free milk (I made mine "not so skinny" and used 2%)
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium chopped onion
8 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms 
2 chicken bouillon cubes
fresh ground pepper
pinch of thyme
10 oz frozen classic mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed small
16 oz cooked chicken breast, diced small


Create a slurry by combining 1/2 cup of the cold water with flour in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Pour remaining water and milk into a large pot and slowly bring to a boil. Add celery, onion, mushrooms, chicken bullion, thyme, fresh pepper, frozen vegetables and return to a boil. Partially cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove lid, add potatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, and slowly whisk in slurry, stirring well as you add. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until soup thickens, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Favorite Recipes of 2013

Really?  Another year has flown by. This year even faster than the last!  As I was scrolling through my 2013 posts, I noticed two things: 1) I only had 53 posts in 2013 and 2) a majority of those were just showing the cakes I decorated at the bakery.  So for 2014, I will try my hardest to get back on track and post more delicious recipes for everyone to try. :)

There are two recipes that stood out as my favorites for 2013.

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Kathie's Favorite Recipe #1 - Orange Poke Cake

Kuddos to my sister for sharing this recipe with me.  My family just adores this cake and would eat it every week if I would make it for them!

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Kathie's Favorite Recipe #2 - Biscuits and Gravy Casserole

I made this in September and again for Christmas morning. It's the perfect comfort food for breakfast.  

I wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy New Year from my kitchen to yours!

Grape {Dessert} Salad

We got back last night from visiting my family in Indiana.  Just in time before the big snow hit!  It's been snowing...and snowing...and SNOWING today! School is already canceled for tomorrow and the kids and I had a blast sledding today in all this fresh white snow before the temperature drops tonight/tomorrow. 

We had a great time in Indiana and got to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family.  The kids loved the extra time with their grandma, grandpa, and cousins!  For our family get-together I wanted to try this grape salad recipe that my uncle emailed me a few weeks back.  It was a huge hit and super delicious.  It's super sweet so it's more like a dessert than a salad.  The crunchiness of the pecans and toffee were the perfect combination with the grapes.  I halved the recipe when I made it and there were no leftovers by the time we were all done. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Tim! It was a big hit!

Grape Salad
Source: Tim H.

2 lbs. red grapes
2 lbs. green grapes

Mix together:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Fold in grapes and chill.

Just before serving add:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
8 oz. package of Heath Toffee Chips

Mix and serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Fried" Chicken Leg Cookies

I try to do something fun and unique for my hubby's birthday each year.  Two years ago I made him this cream puff "cake".  Last year I made him a Llama cake. This year I wanted to make something fun that didn't involve traditional cake. I also wanted to incorporate his favorite food...Popeye's Chicken!  I found an idea on Pinterest and ran with it. Sugar cookies in the shape of chicken legs!

It's impossible to find a cookie cutter in the shape of a chicken leg so each cookie was cut out by hand using a stencil I made out of card stock.  The funniest part of this project was making a trip to Popeye's and asking for two empty boxes and a plastic bag.  I asked the manager if I could buy them from her and she looked at me with a funny face and said, "Um, you can just have them."  I then explained what I was doing and they were excited to help out with the boxes. 

These are just standard sugar cookies with royal icing on them.  Brush on a mixture of meringue powder and water, and then pat some crumbled Corn Flakes on top to give them a fried chicken texture. For complete details and instructions, visit Bridget's blog over at Bake at 350. She makes the most amazing sugar cookies and I just love following her blog.  This was her idea and she used a KFC bucket to put her cookies in. 

Here's my cute hubby in his ugly Christmas sweater after opening up his Popeye's "chicken". I delivered two boxes full of cookies to his work so everyone could share in on the fun.  

Happy Birthday Babe! Not sure what I'll come up with next year...but I'm sure it will be good! :)