Monday, December 28, 2009

And the Winner Is!

I hope everyone had a great Holiday weekend. I know I'm looking forward another one this weekend!

With out further ado, and a big thanks to Random.org, the winning number is 76.

So that means..............

Blogger RJ Flamingo said...

Here's my tweet: http://twitter.com/RJFlamingo/status/6934142927 I so want to win this!


You are the WINNER!!!!!!!!!!


Congrats!



Monday, December 21, 2009

I’ve Neglected You, Let me Make up For it

There I said I have neglected you, all of these promises of multiples posts have gone down the tubes and I swear I have a good reason. Just look.

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I know I have said that Christmas is my favorite time of year and its the Truth. This is what I gift family, friends and coworkers with this season. But it comes at a price to you , this takes a lot of planning and preparation and time. So to make up for it I have partnered with Cookware.com to give you a chance to win something special. (And don’t worry I will be sharing my Christmas box recipes with all of you very soon!)

A Le Creuset 1 Quart Oval Au Gratin Pan. And you get to pick the Color Kiwi, Cobalt or Cherry! I have one of these and I love it. I slowly started to upgrade some of my stoneware baking dishes to Le Creuset and I love all of them. So now you can have a chance to win a pan that I love so much!

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Isn’t it cute!!!

Ok so the Rules and Regulations part. This is open to All US and Canadian Residents, This giveaway will end December 23rd at 5pm Central Time.

Now How to Enter 4 Different Ways!

1. Leave a Comment here about your favorite piece of kitchen equipment.

2. Tweet about this post and then leave a comment back here with the link to the tweet.

3. Talk about this Giveaway on your Blog and leave a comment with a link back to the post.

4.You can vote for my Recipe HERE. And leave a comment that you voted. I’ll be taking you at your word so please really vote.


And Make Sure you leave me a way to contact you!

And Please Check out Cookware.com while you are at it. While I was deciding what to pick for my giveaway I was browsing the site and they have a ton of stuff everything from Rachel Ray Cookware to All Clad. It was rather dangerous and I found quite a few things I wanted to add to my Christmas list.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Over Thinking Leads to Deliciousness

IMG_3072 The holidays are my favorite time of year, and that means I get to do one of my favorite things. Entertain. Recently I had some girlfriends over and needed to come up with a appetizer. This is normally an easy feat but because some of my friends are vegetarian and some are not, this poses some cause for thought. I’m not just going to throw out some veggies and call it a day. I wanted something that would satisfy the meat eaters and the vegetarians alike. Something that you could eat and not miss the meat at all and not feel like it was a cop out at the same time. I know I’m probably over thinking it and they would be happy eating whatever I mad but I wanted it to be a perfect night. So while shopping for the party the grocery store had beautiful portobello mushrooms and so a light bulb went off in my head. Stuffed Mushrooms, but that is a totally ambiguous dish, there are probably thousands of different recipes. So I decided to make my own and just combine my favorite ingredients and what I came up with is pretty damn good, and the girls thought so too. So if you need an easy and satisfying appetizer give my stuffed mushrooms a shot you won’t be disappointed.


This was Entered in a Contest and I could really use some help with votes. Please Click HERE and hover over the stars to vote for me!

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Perfect Stuffed Mushrooms

6 Portobello Mushrooms, Cleaned and stems removed

1/2 of a large yellow onion , minced

6 oz of Ile De France Goat Cheese

10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

2 teaspoons of Salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a cookie sheet place all of the mushrooms, cap side down and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip the mushrooms over so the cap is up and repeat with the oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are almost tender.

While the Mushrooms are in the oven, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onions until they are just starting to caramelize. Add in the spinach and cook until the spinach has warmed through. Add in the goat cheese and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to combine.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Turn the mushrooms over so the gill side is up and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto the mushroom. Spread slightly so there is a even layer. Top each mushroom with 2 tablespoons of panko bread crumbs and drizzle the bread crumbs with olive oil. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Start of my Favorite Season

4129951778_c72b1ca5b9_b I love the Holidays. It is honestly my favorite time of year but this year has been a hectic mess which kind of explains my absence from here. So I’m going to try my best to bring you some great things to make your Holidays a more delicious place. Starting with these cupcakes, I love pumpkin in anything and pumpkin pie and fresh real whipped cream is heaven to me. But who has the time to bake a pie and let it cool for hours when you need a pumpkin pie fix. Enter these fantastic little cupcakes, And the best part is there is no crust which I feel just gets in the way with the pumpkiny goodness and making pie crust scares me! So please give these a whirl you won’t be disappointed.

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The Best Part of Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from Baking Bites

2/3 cup of AP flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of half and half

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined. Add in dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth.
Fill each muffin cup with approximately 1/3 cup of batter.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. They will sink as they cool. Chill cupcakes before serving. Serve with whipped cream!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rainy Days, Blankets, and Couches

4051126955_8b79b43647_b The weather here in the Midwest has been something else lately. Warm then cold, beautiful sunshine then gloomy rain that seems like it is going to go on forever. I’m not kidding after 3 days of nothing but gray skies and cold rainy weather you start to not even want to get up in the morning. So what do you do to make yourself feel better after a long day at work and then no sunshine in days. You put on your PJ’s, grab a blanket and a couch and curl up. And if you are lucky maybe some one will make you some Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding. Because lets face it Chocolate makes any day better at least around my house.

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Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding

1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of half and half

1/2 of a 1lb loaf of dense white bread

12 oz of milk chocolate chips

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 1/2 quart baking dish with non stick spray Heat cream, half and half, vanilla until it comes to a boil then turn it down to a simmer, mix in the milk chocolate and stir until combined and completely melted. Then set aside to cool. Chop the bread into 1 inch cubes and set aside in a large bowl. In a bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together, add in the warm cream mixture and whisk to combine. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and stir to coat every piece and let it sit for 10 minutes. Gently stir in the raspberries, then pour into the baking dish. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is browned and the custard is pretty much set.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Peek Inside

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So I said I was going to start doing Wordless Wednesdays. Slight problem I don’t have anything to take a picture of. I’ll give you a run down of my week. Monday through Friday involves getting up, going to work, coming home, attempting to work out, making dinner with a few baking adventures thrown into the mix, and trying to get some sleep. Saturday and Sunday include trying to catch up on sleep that I missed out on during the week, attempting to work out, baking, cooking, grocery store trips (Yep, I go to 4 stores a weekend),cleaning my house, and various other errands. So unless you want a picture of my dogs every week or of the highway or grocery store or of me in a swim suit (Trust me you don’t want the last one at all), there would be no Wordless Wednesday Picture.

So where does that leave us? You will be getting a picture of the inside of my fridge every week, ok most weeks because lets face it life gets in the way sometimes. So enjoy you little voyeurs, take a good long look!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Possibly Losing My Mind

Goat Cheese The Past few weeks I feel like I have been slowly losing my mind. I just generally feel out of it. I think its the stress of my work and the upcoming holidays which I am wholly unprepared for. And because of that I have been really slacking around here. I am still cooking and baking, but I don’t have the mental ability to formulate cohesive sentences after working all day and still trying to lead a normal life. So my Blog Posts would have been something like this.

“ I made this Tart and it was good, it has pears in it. You should make it because it tastes good”

“I like pears, goat cheese and puff pastry, they taste good, and this is easy.”

I’m not kidding here people. That is what you would have gotten from me. So instead of making you want to reach through your computer screen and strangle me for my horrible sentence structure and grammar. I figured I should wait this out and wait until I could formulate a half way intelligent for you all. So I’m hopefully on the up and up, and should be posting more than one Blog post this week. So with out Further Ado, the Post I promised weeks ago.

Balsamic Syrup

Balsamic Goat Cheese and Pear Tart

1 Sheet of thawed puff pastry

1 1/2 cups of Left over Pears from THIS

5 oz of Goat Cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons of Dried Thyme

1/3 cup of Balsamic Syrup – Recipe below

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl combine the pears and thyme and set aside. Crumble the goat cheese over the puff pastry in a nice even layer and then top with the pears. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until the puff pastry is a nice golden brown. Drizzle liberally with the balsamic syrup all over the tart.

Balsamic Syrup

1 1/2 cups of Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

Cook Vinegar and Sugar over medium high heat until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. About 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pear Tart

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Day Late ok quite a few

These past few weeks have been quite a doozy for me. I promise to get up some new posts next week. I have some great ideas for what to make this weekend. So everyone cross your fingers!

And with out Further Ado. The winners Thanks to Random.org are

Anonymous Lindsey said...

I stopped drinking soda all together. :)

Mini Baker said...

I started doing 5-6 miles a day on the treadmill! It's keeping my tummy nice and trim, and still lets me eat all the pie I want :)
Oh, and I started doing a good deed every day! It's so gratifying!
-Mini Baker


The first one to respond gets first pick on the prizes.

Have a Great Weekend everyone. Hopefully mine is a productive one!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This too Could be Yours

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I received an offer from BlogSpark to try out Nature Valley Nut Clusters. I knew I had to try them out for several reasons, P’s favorite part of granola is the clusters that get stuck together, and I know that they use limited High Fructose Corn Syrup. Which I have been trying to eliminate from my diet. But I was shocked when I received all of this. So while munching away on all of the flavors we received I thought what am I going to do with everything I got. Then it dawned on me, most of this stuff was for kids which I don’t have so I donated it to an At Risk school. I’m sure the kids will love playing with the binoculars and wind up flashlight.

And I loved the Nut Lover’s Variety but they were all really good!

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So Almost Immediately after that Blogspark. I received the offer to do this one for Yo Plus. I don’t have a a picture of everything you will receive, but there was a duffel bag, 2 coupons for free yogurt, headphones, and a work out towel. So you can be surprised if you win. And I would suggest the Light Honey Vanilla. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and its good for you too!

Yes I said WIN. Some lucky reader will win the Nature’s Valley Pack and Another will win the Yo Plus Prize Pack. I decided to combo them up. One I did something good for my community and the other I did something good for me.

This will end Today October 13th at 5pm CST and is only open to US residents.

So tell me what is something good you have done lately?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Once a Cheater….

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I have a confession to make. I cheat, and I’m not afraid to say it. I buy my Puff Pastry. It is just to much of a pain to make, when you can painlessly just go to the store and pick up a package. So guess what….That is what I do. Don’t get me wrong I have made it before, so I know the whole deal about how it tastes so much better blah blah blah. Seriously people this stuff takes days to make and I just don’t have the patience for that. So I do what I have to and that means buying my puff pastry. I think as long as you can find good quality puff pastry you should feel no shame about using it. Go ahead buy your puff pastry and don’t feel guilty about it! Because honestly no one will ever know if you made it or if you bought it. All you have to do is fill it or top it with something amazing and no one will even ask if you made it!

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Vanilla Cardamom Pear Turnovers

1 package of puff pastry, thawed

Pear Filling

1 lb of Pears, peeled, cored and cubed – I used Bartlett

1/4 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon of Cardamom

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the pears soften about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the puff pastry and carefully unfold both sheets. Cut each sheet into thirds and then into thirds again. So you will have 18 squares, place about 1 teaspoon of filling on one half of the square then seal the edges so that you get all of the air out. Once you have filled all 18 turnovers, crimp all of the edges with a fork and make a small slash through the top to allow steam to escape. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet in 2 batches for 12-15 minute or until they start to turn golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly and serve warm.

There will be extra filling left over, you can enjoy it over ice cream or yogurt or save it for what I have in store for mine later this week.

And Please vote for my Cheese Plate, no email sign up or anything. Just hover over the stars! It ends tomorrow Oct 6th.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This One's for you Mom

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Some of my earliest memories are of me baking with my mom in the kitchen. Climbing up on a chair to help her and trying not to fall off as I would reach across the counter for things. And her specialty was Banana Bread. It got to the point where she had to buy extra bananas and just let them over ripen because we asked for the bread so often. This bread is light and so moist that it almost falls apart. And it definitely falls apart if you aren’t patient and wait for it to cool, which let’s face it do you know any 6 year olds who really have the virtue of patience nailed down. I know I didn’t so we would be begging her to cut it after about 5 minutes.

I have tried for years to duplicate this recipe. Why can’t I just get the recipe from my Mom, well I can but its made with wait for it, wait for it BISQUICK. Gasp, I know. And since my house is a mix free house, 99% of the time this would just not do. So I have been trying and trying and had actually given up and just found another banana bread that P and I liked and that held up better to other applications such as French Toast! Then I made these Blueberry Cream Cheese Buns. And something about their fantastic texture reminded me of something and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then as I looked at the bananas dying to be made into banana bread sitting on my counter it clicked, and Gwen popped into my head. This ish is Bananas, BANANAS. Sorry gotta have the Radio Edit for my Mom and all, she hates swearing :). They were pretty damn close to the texture of my Mom’s Banana Bread. So I give you the closest damn thing I have found to my Mom’s Banana Bread.

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Best I can do Banana Muffins adapted from Bake or Break

1 3/4 cup of AP Flour, divided
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, divided
2 eggs 2 ripe bananas, smashed
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of half and half 1 banana, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 regular muffin tin with paper liners. In a bowl combine 1 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter and1 cup sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix in the smashed bananas and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture and alternate with the half and half. Add in the remaining flour and mix until combined. Fill the cups up 2/3 full and top with a slice of banana and sprinkle with some of the remaining sugar . Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

And Please vote for my Cheese Plate, no email sign up or anything. Just hover over the stars!

And this was entered in Family Recipes, so check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Loving Me Some Fall

3938999727_24b493e135_b I would have to say Fall is my favorite time of year, its the perfect weather and I’m a huge fan of comfort food and cooler weather means comfort food comes out in full force. Every year P and I try to hit up the Local Apple Orchard for 2 reasons really fresh apples and apple cider donuts. He goes for the apples, I go for the donuts! I only order 6 1 for myself and then go to help him pick out the apples. I love apples, especially from an orchard they are just so fresh and keep for so much longer in the fridge than store bought apples do. And there are so many more choices at the orchard so we always taste test a few and then pick out a bag. I will let you in on a little secret though. You just have to promise not to tell P, Ok. I always find reasons to use up the apples quickly, breads, cakes, etc. Not because I love apples and fall flavored baked goods, even though that is true. It is actually because then we have to go back to the orchard and what does a trip to the orchard equal, yep you guessed it Apple Cider Donuts. I’m like a junkie getting my fix, I just have to have them. So while perusing my latest Penzey’s catalog for some new spices I saw this recipe and the light bulb went off. I could use up quite a few apples with this so that donut fix would be that much closer. But this bread was awesome so I was able to hold off on my donut fix while this was at the house. But I think pretty soon I’m going to start Jonesin for a donut hardcore.

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Apple Spice Bread – Adapted from Penzey’s Catalog.

Bread:
4 Cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped 4 eggs
1 Cup of Canola Oil
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice 3 Cups of AP flour
2 Cups of sugar

Topping:
3⁄4 Cup of AP flour
1⁄4 Cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of Apple Pie Spice 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1⁄2 Cup of butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two standard bread loaf pans with non stick spray. Peel, core and slice the apples. Cut into good-sized chunks, about 1 inch in size. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Add the oil and beat until combined. Add the vanilla, baking soda, salt and apple pie spice. Beat until combined. Next, add the flour and sugar and mix on low just to combine. Turn the mixer to high and beat until mixture is smooth. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the chopped apples, mixing by hand so the apples do not get broken up. Divide the mixture between the two pans. Since the batter is so thick, it is easiest to
spoon the batter into the pans.

To prepare the topping, combine flour, sugar, apple pie spice and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the mixture with a fork until all ingredients are moist and crumbly. Sprinkle equal amounts of topping on each loaf. Bake for 55- 65 minutes. The loaf should feel fairly firm when touched in the middle. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans.

And Please vote for my Cheese Plate, no email sign up or anything. Just hover over the stars!


My Love Hate Relationship with Costco

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I don’t know about you but I love Costco. Honestly I think anyone who bakes as much as I do would be crazy not to shop there for things like eggs, butter, etc. But I also have a huge weakness for their produce, because sometimes one small pint of berries won’t cut it, but often times the package of produce is to large but I buy it anyway. Not being one to waste I spend my whole week figuring out what to do with the produce, and that is when I start to Hate Costco. Why is it so tempting to buy these mass quantities? I can never figure it out, but by the time I need to go again all that hatred is gone and I’m in a love fest. I always end up buying some kind of produce, even if I don’t need it or have any real plans for it. I think I drive P nuts sometimes with my need to buy it, because it often sits in the fridge for days just taking up space while I figure out what to do with all of it! So I froze the rest of the berries so I could enjoy some summer fruit later.

So as an ode to the last day of Summer I made these blueberry muffins. They were some of the best blueberry muffins I have ever had, the batter is so thick that the crust you get on top is fantastic! I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone by and I’m going to miss all the wonderful summer produce but Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The Apples, the spices, and of course my favorite Pumpkin. So Good bye Summer and Hello Fall. (Please stay around for longer than 2 weeks, Please)

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Blueberry Sour Cream Muffin adapted from Coconut and Lime

2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of sugar + sugar for sprinkling

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup sour cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons of vanilla

2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 400. Line a regular muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, stir together butter, sour cream, egg and vanilla until blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Stir until just mixed (batter will be thick) then fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into tins and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove to rack and let cool at least 2 minutes before serving.

And Please vote for my Cheese Plate, no email sign up or anything. Just hover over the stars!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Favorite Place In San Francisco

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I Love San Francisco. It is just a place that speaks to me, the people, the weather, the food community. If I could live there I would. So while P and I were visiting over Labor Day Weekend we hit up a few places we love and a few new places. If you haven’t guessed already my Favorite Place is the Ferry Building and its Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. I’m like a kid in the Candy Store, looking at everything, wanting to get one of everything and getting a little upset that I can’t have it all. So I knew that we would have to go again this trip and this time take Full Advantage of the Market and pick up a few things for a picnic. Basically just an excuse to buy produce since I didn't have kitchen I could use there.

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These tiny grapes were everywhere and people where snapping them up.

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They had Peppers in every color I could think of. At this Point I wished I had a Kitchen.

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Another thing I never see at our Farmer’s Market, Huge Bunches of Fantastic Smelling Lavender.

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Every type of peach, plum, pluot, and more hybrids I had never heard of.

IMG_2428 Again Wishing I had a Kitchen to use, but I bet the bill would have been higher than it already was!

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Check out Frog Hollow Farm and say Hello to Cameron. He will let you taste all of the jams and conserves and give you great conversation as well!

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P’s new favorite Breakfast, Chilaquiles. He is in love.

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How can you resist free cheese? Especially when it is good cheese.

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Cowgirl Cremery. I think I could have stayed there all day tasting cheese, the cheese monger that helped us was wonderful and helped us pick out the best cheese for our picnic at The Presidio.

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They were packed with people, I think the sign that Chefs vs. City was there didn’t hurt!

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Miette, so cute and how can you resist macaroons?

Now can you see why it is my Favorite Place in San Francisco. It has it everything you would ever want and lots of things you never even knew you needed.

Again I’m just saying if some one opened up a kitchenette rental area near by you would make a killing.

Other Highlights of the Trip were eating dinner at Gary Danko, and seriously if you can afford to eat there or even if you have to save up for years to eat there I would recommend it. The best dinner of my life, Hands down and even P loved his food. I wish we could have eaten there twice. I would have taken pictures but the lighting in there was horrible for food shots, perfect for dining, and maybe if I had brought my point and shoot it would have been a different story. Lesson Learned.

Tartine was good, super crowded on a Saturday afternoon and really really hot inside the store. We got some sandwiches to go and ate at the Park near by. I loved the choices and the baked goods but our sandwiches while much larger that I thought they would be were alright, needed a little something extra.

Bi Rite Creamery, I was a little scared as there was a line that was atleast 20 people long, but in my personal opinion people don't wait in line for mediocre food so it had to be good. So wait we did and lucky for us since we were full from Tartine we got one 2 scoop which to my surprise you could have 3 flavors. So we had Salted Caramel, Roasted Banana, and Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles). All of which were very very good. But I would have to say that Roasted Banana was my favorite!


And Please vote for my Cheese Plate, no email sign up or anything. Just hover over the stars!