Pepperoni Pinwheel Bites

My Mom used to make something her and her sister called a Not-So-Hot. Something like a Calzone, a Stromboli of sorts, depending on who you are and where you’re from. Soda/Pop/Cola kinda like that.

I didn’t have enough energy to do that, not that it was extremely time consuming, but I didn’t have a rolling pin, and it was late in the day after David had his dentist appointment. So I wanted something a little quicker to make and just as tasty.

Pepperoni Pinwheel Bites it was.

 

I already had all the ingredients I needed to make it, although they were bought for the Not-So-Hot I was going to make, but nothing would go to waste and it was sure to taste just as good.

At least I hoped it would.

I haven’t made the pinwheels since going gluten free. I haven’t found a pizza dough that I like, and haven’t been able to create a dough I liked enough either. So there I was in the frozen section of the food store and I saw the Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Dough.

Why not? The worst that could happen is that it tastes worse than all the other gluten free pizzas that are out there, and the best that could happen is that we enjoy it.

So the process began.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb Boars Head Slicing Pepperoni (From the Deli Counter. You want the large slices of Pepperoni for this, although smaller pieces would work as well.
  • 1/4 lb Sliced Provolone Cheese
  • 1/4 lb Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
  • Pizza Dough I used Pillsbury Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Preheat oven to 400° and bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is cooked thoroughly.

*If you are using this brand of dough, it suggests (for pizza) to pre bake the dough for a few minutes, then top with your toppings and bake again. I was fearful that this wouldn’t work as a one time bake, but it totally did.*

 

I mentioned I didn’t have a rolling pin, right? Well I improvised with a can of black beans that would later make the black bean brownies and got to rolling out the dough. I placed it between two layers of parchment paper, that I would later use to line a cookie sheet and bake the pinwheels on.

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Once the dough was rolled out very thin, I kept it on the parchment paper and I put it back into the refrigerator for 5 minutes. All the manipulation of the dough had made it very warm and I feared it would stick and not be able to roll up.

I took the dough out and layered both cheeses, in rows, as to alternate the flavors.

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Then came the layer of pepperoni to cover all of that delicious cheese. You want to make sure you get both the cheese and pepperoni to the edges of the dough.

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Next was the rolling part. Although in this photo I am rolling the dough from the widest part over, I would attempt rolling in from the narrower sides, so the ends of the roll don’t lose any cheese or seem empty.

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Once the roll was complete, I transferred it to a cookie sheet and put it back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

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Then the fun part. Cutting them into pinwheels. They do get a little flat bottom on some of them, but all you have to do is reshape them into circles. Or leave them as is.

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After cutting them into pinwheels, I placed them on the cookie sheet, and popped them into the oven to bake away.

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After 25-30 min baking, I didn’t even have time to take a decent picture, as David was already trying to get his hands on them lol.

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They looked just as good as mom’s real pinwheels!

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And they tasted fantastic. No leftovers here, sadly. But that’s ok, because they were so easy to make, I’m sure they will be on the menu again very soon.

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Serve with your favorite sauce, and enjoy.

Caramel & White Chocolate ~ Chickpea Blondies

Yep I was at it again.

After the pool party last Saturday, and bringing my Dulce de Leche Black Bean Brownies, I felt bad for one of my dear friends who is allergic to chocolate. She obviously couldn’t eat these delectable treats, but I told her that I would be trying my hand at some that she could eat.

She asked what I would be using in place of the black beans, because well, even black beans sounded odd in a dessert.

Why, Chickpeas of course! I figured that I should be able to pull it off. Why not? Chickpeas make humus and that is thick and creamy, so transferring them to a blondie, could um work, right?

I was going to find out.

I adjusted the recipe for the Black Bean brownies just a little.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can 15 oz low sodium chickpeas (I used Goya)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 1  tablespoon Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ~13.4 oz can of Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche Caramel

Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 8×8 square baking pan with baking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches exposed on all sides.

Using a blender, or food processor if you have one,  add chickpeas, egg, sugar, cocoa, yogurt, vanilla, oil, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth and creamy.

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Transfer batter into a bowl, and fold in half of the white chocolate chips until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan and spread evenly. Using a teaspoon, dollop as much as you’d like of the caramel on top of the blondie batter. Finish it off with the remaining white chocolate chips.

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Bake the blondies about 30-35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into batter comes out clean. You will notice a little gooeyness from the white chocolate chips, but it should still be fairly dry.

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Allow the blondies to cool completely on the counter in their baking pan before removing them out of the pan, along with the parchment paper, to cut into bite sized squares.

Here’s a little oopsie on my part. Well, Davids lol. I had baked these beautiful blondies, and had them cooling on the counter for about an hour. David knew that they would eventually be placed in the fridge to cool for a few hours, and decided to help me out. He graciously covered them with foil, and placed them in the refrigerator. I didn’t think anything of it and just saw it as being thoughtful. Until the next morning, when I uncovered them and saw the moisture. I went to cut them into squares, and their texture changed slightly. They were more moist than the night before, because of the condensation that developed overnight in the fridge. No harm, no foul. I sent them off to my lovely friend, and to some of the Baristas at the local coffee shop. To my surprise, because I’m always harder on myself for shortcomings, the blondies were a hit! Yes they were more moist than one would like, but the flavor was still there.

So heed my warning, cool them off completely on the counter before transferring them to the fridge. 

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The result will be absolutely delectable, I mean look at that caramel and white chocolate! And no one tasted chickpeas, or even remotely thought of humus while eating them. Success I say!

Dulce de Leche ~Black Bean Brownie Bites

Boy is that a mouthful! And a deliciously chewy, fudgey, mouthful at that.

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These brownies might be bite sized and Gluten Free, but it’s far from small on flavor and as for the Black Beans, you can’t even tell they’re in there. Even the most discerning of pallets won’t notice a difference in texture or flavor in these brownie bites.

How do I know?

I set up some of my closest friends and a group of strangers at a pool party Saturday afternoon, and nonchalantly placed a tray of them among the other items on the desert bar.  Let’s just the treats remaining after everyone had their fill of decadent sweets didn’t include any of my brownie bites.

That’s right. They were all gone!

All except for 3 little bites, because the lovely lady who tried them isn’t a brownie fan to begin with and finds brownies too sweet for her liking. However she did try one as a great sport, and although she said she wasn’t fond of it, it was based on the sweet factor. She didn’t notice anything off texture or flavor wise, and when I finally revealed that these brownies had a secret ingredient everyone was floored to find out it was black beans.

My friends are aware if I’m baking or cooking and they see me eating the dish I’ve brought, it’s 100% gluten free. So that comes along with the territory. But this was a gathering of close friends and some new, so not everyone had my background info. Black beans in a dessert? That they surely weren’t expecting from me.

But the compliments, and asking if there were more left made my day. These brownies were among donuts, real chocolate brownies, cannoli cake, munchkins, cupcakes and a slew of other treats. Yet these were devoured.

So enough talking about how great they are, get to baking my friends.

By the way, while mixing the batter, which is seriously so simple, Dave had to lick the spoon. Don’t worry I used another one to finish up 😉 and although he knew there were black beans in it, he didn’t even taste them. And trust me, if he didn’t like it he would tell me. This was also before the chocolate chips and caramel got into the mix. I think it’s safe to say, these brownie bites will leave everyone thinking they’re just good old-fashioned “real brownies”.

Ingredients

  • 1 can 15 oz low sodium black beans (I used Goya)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (I used Trader Joe’s White Modena Vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1~13.4 oz can of Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche Caramel

Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 8×8 square baking pan with baking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches exposed on all sides.

I don’t have a food processor, which would probably make this even easier than it was using a blender, but this is still so simple to do that you’ll be making them quite often.

Add black beans, eggs, sugar, cocoa, milk, vinegar, vanilla, oil, baking soda, and baking powder in the blender until smooth.

Transfer the batter into a bowl and mix in 1/2 of the chocolate chips until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan. Using a teaspoon, dollop as much as you’d like of the caramel on top of the brownie batter.

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Next, sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top.

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You can swirl the caramel throughout the batter if you’d like or leave it as dollops on top. Totally up to you

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To swirl or not to swirl, that is the question, and I couldn’t decide so I did a little bit of both.

Bake the brownies about 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. You will notice a little gooeyness from the chocolate chips but it should be fairly dry knife.

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Allow the brownies to cool completely before removing them along with the parchment paper out of the pan to cut into bite size squares.

I left them on the counter to cool for a few hours, and then transferred the whole pan into the refrigerator to cool overnight, cutting them in the morning.

 

 

You could cut them into any size you’d like, I just prefered the smaller bite sized ones, because of the caramel and chocolate chips making them that much more decadent.

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I ended up with 28 bite size squares, yes you only see 24 in that tray above because what kind of baker would I be if I didn’t try out the confection before bringing them to the party? 😉

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These little bite sized wonders really hit the spot. Admittedly I’m not a fan of the brownie either, but boy oh boy did these hit my sweet tooth in all the right places.

Time to Make America LOVE Again!

This morning I decided to go browse my Facebook feed to see what the world was up to. Oh what a clusterfuck it was. To my dismay it was yet another diatribe of bullshit spewed forth by people who have nothing better to say. At least nothing constructive. What I mean is this:

On a daily basis, I see hate, ignorance, and pure evil flowing forth like Niagara Falls. No matter the topic at hand, Politics, Religion, Race, Gender, Who’s lives matter more than another… the list goes on. Wake up~ We all matter equally. Hate is dominating, I’m not sure if it’s coming from a point of view of pure evil, sheer misunderstanding of another persons personal beliefs, or ignorance that there are all kinds of people who make the world go round. Unfortunately within the mix evil exists. Hate exists, and it’s sickening me to my core.

People don’t realize that a snide comment about a person’s character, gender,  or sexual preference, has far more reaching consequences than the topic at hand. This morning I was compelled to write a post, (it is shown below) which some could assume is just about politics.

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Sorry to disappoint you, but politics may be what I’m seeing today specifically, but generally speaking, attacks about another persons character happen all the time. Either in a meme or in a direct comment/post etc. Shows so much maturity and intelligence when you’re attacking someone in that manner.

The old saying, “What you say about another person says more about you as a person, than it does about the person whom you’re talking about” Yes it speaks volumes. How can you be taken seriously if all you do is attack?

These comments have far more reaching consequences than the immediate moment. They travel through time and space and occupy the deepest crevices of our mind. They grow with us, with our children, and future generations. One could argue that a simple meme depicting ignorance about a political figure, sexual preference or anything for that matter is simply trivial. But in reality those small fissures in time of arrogance set a precedent for future attacks upon people. It’s a wonderful thing to teach the youth of today, an untarnished mindset that is still evolving and developing. Showing them that if you don’t like someone for their perceived differences just tell them to go fuck off, that they don’t matter,  they are not important, their point of view is irrelevant, they are worthless, they are wrong, and you’ve got the perfect meme to show them just how wrong they are.
Because at the end of the day, all the little comments made about someone different from you, who doesn’t agree with you, because your point of view matters more, is just what the world needs more of.
No, Dorothy what the world needs more of is Love, Compassion, Understanding, Acceptance, Open Mindedness, and all around RESPECT for each other.
There are certain things that make us who we are as individuals, it’s either Biological, or Environmental. Guess what I think it is that makes a person so hateful…Then again, what do I know? I don’t have a catchy meme to go with this post, do I?

Lip Smacking Ribs in 1 hour! Say what?!

David has been loving his grill that he got back on Mother’s Day weekend and has been getting good use out of it too.

This weekend we went and did some food shopping at Aldi’s. If you have one nearby I suggest giving it a try. It is after all owned by the brother of the owner of Trader Joe’s. Yep the stores are brothers. They don’t have the exact same products, but the variety of items in Aldi’s is pretty extensive and they also have their own Gluten Free line of food called LiveGFree. Inexpensive, and quite good for 90% of the products. I personally don’t like the frozen pancakes, or the hot pocket knock offs. Let me also say, I was never a fan of the real hot pockets either so maybe that’s why.

While in Aldi, after hitting up Petco for some new food for Lilo & Stitch, we were searching for the rack of ribs we picked up a few weeks ago. One of the downfalls of Aldi is that some of their items are “Seasonal” and often aren’t there every trip.

I’m not normally a huge rib fan. I do enjoy them once in a while, but now that David has perfected a lip smacking rack of ribs (in no time I might add) they have become a more frequent request around the house. Even from, J his oldest son. Sadly, there were no ribs. Not the kind he wanted to buy anyway. So we settled on a rack of baby back ribs instead.

Oh my goodness, let me just tell you. The most juicy, tender, fall of the bone ribs I’ve ever eaten. Even compared to some smokehouse restaurants I’ve eaten at over the years. This was the bombdiggity!

We took the rack and cut it in half. Originally we were going to freeze one half of the ribs since it was just the two of us eating it this time, but decided to cook em up all at once and any leftovers could be frozen.

Time to prepare the rub, and figure out the best method to grill them up. We weren’t sure how we were going to go about seasoning them. Usually we just throw some Sweet Baby Rays Hickory BBQ Sauce on it, but we didn’t want sloppy wet ribs this night. We did want juicy however.

Our Rub: For 4 1/2 lbs of Ribs

  • 1 Tbs Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbs Celery Salt
  • 1 Tbs Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Paprika
  • 1 Tbs Granulated Garlic
  • 1 Tbs Onion Powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set a side until ready to rub it up.

Make sure to remove the silver skin in the back end of the ribs. This will make them more tender and easier to cook.

Next step after getting the rub on is to wrap each half  up in aluminum foil. Then place them in fridge for at least a half hour *you could marinade it longer if you’d like and had the time.

Meanwhile get your gas grill at a temperature of at least 300°-350° Once your grill is maintaining a steady temperature, place your rib packages bone side down and grill for 25 min. Turning once and grill again for 25 min longer with the rib side facing down.

 

Once the 50 minutes are up remove the packages from the heat and carefully open them up. Remove the ribs out of the foil package, and drain off the juices that have collected and set them aside.

Transfer the ribs back to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes each side. Let the ribs rest for about 10 min after checking the temperature ~ it should reach 170°

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We’ve read a lot of recipes online about direct, indirect, smoking etc as far as grilling goes. All of the processes take a tremendous amount of time and yes they do yield fantastic results. But gotta be honest with you here, doing it this way, in a much shorter amount of time, gives us the best tasting ribs.

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Yes we might be biased to our recipe, but I guess anyone would if you found something you really liked and it didn’t take a huge amount of time to get a great pay off.

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All that extra juice we reserved earlier after removing the ribs from the foil pouches wasn’t needed. The ribs were so juicy and falling off the bone we didn’t feel the need for more. You could always add more if you’d like to.

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But with ribs like these, who really needs more sauce?

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Above all else, enjoy your lip smacking, fall of the bone in less than 1 hour ribs!!

 

 

Sweetness among the sorrows

imageLife.

It’s a cycle we all go through. Some longer than others, some without issues, some with major devastating ones. Disease, struggle, hardships, ups & downs. We all have a certain baggage if you will.

Life as we know it is full of sweetness and sorrow. Just wish the sweetness would outweigh the sorrows so many are suffering.

It’s a given we are born, and we die. But all too often, and much more recently in my lifetime, there has been more loss. Could it be because I’m aging and am more aware of life’s sometimes short cycle? Could it be that I’m just more aware of it and it’s been ongoing for far too long? I’m not sure what the answer is, but honestly the amount of loss so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through is tearing at my heartstrings. I’m not trying to sound trite, or without compassion, coming up with flippant comment. It truly is heartbreaking to see the loss that is happening daily. Either on a personal closer to home scale, and the far more widespread world scale.

It seems as if life is coming full circle. I’m in the position my mother was/is in. Instead of seeing family or friends at weddings and baby showers, it’s at funerals.

Siblings, parents, spouses, children, loved ones in so many ways are passing more frequently. It’s a stark reminder that life is too short and can pass you by in the blink of an eye. Parents are aging, freak accidents happen.

Life…happens. And then it doesn’t.

And it leaves you with the ultimate question. Why?

I’m usually not at a loss for words. But sometimes, especially during times like this, words escape me. I can say how sorry I am for your loss, I can offer words of sympathy for you and your grieving family, I can tell you to take comfort in their memory and that they are at peace. Which are all heartfelt sentiments that I wish for you. But nothing in life truly prepares you for how those words you say, or type, come across to the one receiving them. Those words of comfort can often feel absent of compassion. Because it’s like putting a price value on a life. How can you sum up the loss of a dear loved one in a simple “So sorry for your loss”? It’s simple, and truthful, and we can only hope understood.

In our lifetime, we all deal with sorrow among the sweetness. Sadly, as we are getting older it seems sorrow has been taking the lead. Life can prepare us for the inevitable, but only in theory. It’s the final act that tests our limits and acceptance. I am saddened beyond words the last few weeks at the amount of loss that has hit people who surround me, either close friends, or mere acquaintances. Lives taken too soon, without a warning, or even those who we feel have beaten the odds countless times and without a doubt will persevere yet again. They have lost their battles, and leave the world left behind sweeter for their presence during their time in it, yet full of sorrow for their future absence. ❤

My wish for you during your time of grieving, is to find… sweetness among the sorrows.

 

 

Monday Musings Of Baby Shower Proportions

Welcome Monday morning, or afternoon as I’m sure this will finally get published. Hope your weekend was a splendid one, and you are refreshed and ready to hit this week running. Or at least have enough caffeine to get you out the door this morning.

My weekend was filled with some fun and relaxation, but was not met without some chaos. All good though and for good reason.

A dear friend of mine is having a baby. A baby boy to be exact, and she’s due almost any day. Well about a month from now. Her family held a baby shower for her this weekend, and as you all know I love me some babies. So I got to work for a few weeks trying to put together a really fun creative gift.

My creative juices were flowing, and I was scouring, what else but Pinterest for some really cute ideas. Diaper cakes, towel cakes, gift baskets, sock roses and bouquets, and the list can go on.

Diaper Cake

Diaper cakes to me, are well, kinda dirty lol.

Let me explain. The concept behind it is to buy a few packages of diapers, open them up, take the diapers out and arrange them in the shape of a tiered cake. Or in more creative aspects in the shape of a bike, bathtub, boat, etc. The idea of taking clean diapers out of their package, handling them, and exposing them to a handful of women who will be undoubtedly touching and passing around the arrangement, is gross to me. All those dirty hands on those clean diapers that are inevitably going to be put on your newborns tush just doesn’t sit well with me personally.

Although I love the creative idea of the cakes, I just couldn’t do a diaper cake. Through some more research, there were the towel cakes, and other ideas as well. Even a cake made of clothes and swaddling blankets. So that was my idea. A cake made with the swaddling blankets, clothes, and even sock cupcakes to boot.

That didn’t go as planned. I washed all the clothes, socks, washclothes and got to work on folding and rolling everything up. I disliked the progress and scraped the idea. Since I had bought a travel cake holder to use as part of the cake idea (Mom to be is an avid baker and would get use of the holder as well) I decided to work around that, and the sage green pop up storage bin I also purchased.

First came the idea of sock cupcakes.

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Unfortunately I bought socks for 3-12 months and most tutorials online were using normal sized socks, or even crew socks. That’s not what I had, but I made it work. 20 pairs of socks were folded, rolled, and rubber banded to make 4 cupcakes.

Then the washcloth animals were next.

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I didn’t know what kind to make, except that the nursery theme was similar to a Noah’s Ark theme with Elephants, Monkeys, Foxes, etc. I knew I could make a washcloth Elephant, and then needed to figure out what else I could whip up. So then came the ideas of Butterflies, and Bunnies.

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I arranged the cupcakes, butterflies, and bunnies inside the cake holder, and added two elephants on the top of the cake holder handle to secure them.

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Still having the sage green pop up basket which was the color scheme for the nursery as well, I was left with the decision on what to do next. Unfortunately my idea of the cake from earlier, using the clothes and blankets to wrap it up, was still  giving me a little trouble.

I decided to fill the basket with the diapers, wipes, and numerous outfits. Propping up the Elephant wall hanging behind some swaddling blankets, and adding in some spoons, pacifiers and a few extra goodies.

It wasn’t what I envisioned as my creative gift idea, but in the end, all the lovely ladies in attendance, and mom to be, loved the idea and wondered how I came up with, and made them. Even Dave’s boys thought it was all so cute, and wondered where I bought the gift basket. When I told them I made it, they were even more impressed. So was Dave. But he had confidence in me from the get go and knew it would turn out nice, even if it wasn’t my planned idea.

I finished everything on Friday night, for Saturday’s shower. Thankfully. And Sunday was a well deserved day of rest and relaxation with my guy. Just the two of us. We took an early morning walk, went out for breakfast, did a few errands, and came home to cook up some of our favorite Damn Good Chowder and some of the more recent Mini Cheesecake Cupcakes , this time in mint chocolate chip with Glutino Gluten Free Chocolate Sandwich Cream Cookies (AKA~ GF Oreos)

I’d say it was a fabulous weekend, and I can’t wait to see what next weekend has to offer.