Barn Studio of Dance

Monday, September 27, 2010

Giveaway Winners: Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ


I'm really excited to be announcing the 3 winners of the Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ products tonight! 

The bad news is that I don't have prizes for everyone that entered.  But the good news is that Under the Big Oak Tree will be hosting another Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ giveaway!  

So, if you didn't win this time, be sure to check back for another chance to win in a couple of weeks! 




I used random.org to choose the winners, but couldn't figure out how to post the little icon showing the winning numbers.  So, you'll just have to trust me.  :)

Here are the winners in the order that they were chosen: 
  • jbmthill: I like Butch's page on facebook jbmthilL@
  • erica: I liked butch's fb page blackprincess30106@
  • Lisa: I learned that Butch even posted dessert recipes on his web page
In addition to this post, I'll also be contacting the winners by email.  Winners will have 48 hours to contact me with their mailing information! 



Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way to do this review and giveaway.  Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ provided me with 2 non-returnable products for my family to sample and review as well as the products provided for this giveaway.  The opinions stated in this review are honest and my own. 

Menu Plan Monday: Week of September 27th

As previously posted, I'm still having some computer issues.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to posting more regularly soon. 

But for now, I'm back for another Menu Plan Monday!  There were a few problems with last week's menu plan, but it all worked out in the end. 

First problem was the Shepherd's Pie I made for Monday.  It was awful!  This was my second time making it and the second time that it didn't turn out!  I really can't see what the problem was since we love hamburger gravy and we love mashed potatoes!  I think I should stick with just a scoop of mashed potatoes on the plate with the hamburger gravy poured over it.  We'll skip the casserole dish and oven next time!  We ate it,  we just didn't enjoy it!  :)  The leftovers were not saved! 

Next problem was the chicken I planned for dinner smelled a bit funny when I open it.  And since I'm really paranoid about food poisoning, we just skipped it.  I checked the freezer to see if I had any pre-cooked, diced chicken to use in a casserole or something.  No luck.  I scanned the pantry for something.  Anything.  And came up with a plan that would use up a can of salmon from Trader Joes.  I mixed up a batch of salmon patties and baked them in the oven and served with the mashed potatoes and veggies that I planned to serve with the chicken.  

Yesterday was an "undecided" day on the menu plan.  Usually we run errands on the weekends and grab dinner while we're out.  Yesterday we spent more money than we would have liked, so we opted for dinner at home.  Only problem was that I didn't have anything thawed for dinner.  I had some meat sauce in the freezer, so I took a 2 cup portion of that and added it a pot with a jar of store bought sauce.  I boiled up some pasta and served some bread and butter on the side.  Grace really enjoyed dinner and ate every bit of food that I put on her tray! 

The cowboy stew was a success but then, it always is.  We really do enjoy it and love all the leftovers!  Another success was the tuna noodle casserole that I made.  I knew that the cowboy stew would be great since I've made it before and we really enjoyed it!  I was leery about the tuna noodle casserole.  I really didn't like the idea of hot, canned tuna.  Surprisingly, we really enjoyed it and it will be part of another menu plan soon!  I'll also be sharing the recipe here soon. 

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be trying to use up a lot of stuff from the pantry and freezer in order to save some money.  Plus, they are both getting over stuffed to the point that it's difficult to find what I need.

Here's a look at what I have planned for the next couple of weeks: 

  • Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash 
  • Tuna Corn Chowder, biscuits
  • Easy Peasy Pasta, baked chicken breast
  • Turkey Barley Stew, biscuits
  • Red Beans and Rice, polenta
  • Burritos
  • Coney Island Hot Dogs, tater tots
  • Beef Barley Soup
  • Stir Fry
The Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash is a meatless recipe that I've been wanting to try ever since I saw it posted over at Debbi Does Dinner...Healthy and Low Calorie.  For some reason, I never seem to get to it each week.  I really need to make this soon! 

I've seen the recipe for Tuna Corn Chowder in one of my cookbooks but never wanted to try it because of the HOT TUNA thing.  But since I've tackled my "fear" last week with the tuna noodle casserole, I thought this would be another great recipe to try to use up some of that tuna we have in the pantry! 

I made Easy Peasy Pasta a couple of weeks ago and promised to post the recipe.  Don't worry, I haven't forgotten.  I'll be sharing this recipe and many more in the next couple of weeks! 

Need some dinner inspiration?  Don't forget to check out more menus over at Menu Plan Monday. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Giveaway reminder AND still experiencing techincal difficulties

Hi, everyone! 

First, I want to remind everyone to enter the giveaway for Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ, Sunday is the last day to enter!  Click the Butch's BBQ giveaway banner at the top of this page to find out how to enter!  3 winners will be chosen and you have up to 8 chances to enter! 


Next, I want to apologize for not posting much lately.  I know I've been slow to follow or reply back to all of your lovely comments, I'm sorry.  I'm still experiencing some computer issues that are making my computer run much slower than it did before.  Now posting takes a really long time and I usually get frustrated and give up before the post is finished. 

I'm hoping to have a new computer by the end of next week.  Fingers crossed that everything will work out as planned.  I'm not looking for anything fancy, but at this point anything will be better than what I am working from now.  :)

I have lots of recipes to post, some product reviews, and even a couple of new giveaways!  So, be sure to check back for new posts...I'll be posting as soon as I can! 

Until then, Happy Fall everyone! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Blog Hops

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I found a new blog hop to participate in!  Well, it's not really new...but it's new to me!  I've been  having so much fun meeting new blogger friends, I thought I'd join in on the fun over at Follow Me Back Tuesday! 

Click the Follow Me Back Tuesday button at the top of the post and start meeting new friends! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful day! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Giveaway! Don't forget to enter!

Follow Us Monday Morning

PhotobucketHey, everyone!  I'm back for another Follow Us Monday Morning!  I had to skip a few blog hops recently due to some computer issues, which aren't fully cleared up yet, but I really missed meeting new friends in blogland.  So, technical difficulties or not!  I'm back to hopping! 

Here's the question of the week over at Follow Us Monday Morning: 

How is your favorite way to spend your weekend?


Joe works most weekends, so I really enjoy the RARE weekends that all of us are home together.  Especially, when those weekends are spent at home and not running errands.  Those weekends that we can just be lazy and enjoy watching Grace run around and play, or when we take Grace and Remmy for walks.  Family weekends are the best! 

How do you like to spend your weekends? 

Menu Plan Monday: Week of September 20th

I had to skip Menu Plan Monday last week.  I was having a lot of trouble getting anything posted for the last week and a half.  Between writer's block and computer issues, I wasn't having a good week. 

Oh, my crock pot died too.  We've been noticing that it's cooking too hot for a while now.   But when I had it on the "keep warm" setting and it was BOILING, I knew it had cooked it's last meal.  I haven't gotten around to getting a new one yet....I better get one soon since it's the start of soup and stew season! 

Also, Grace has been super-active lately.  She's getting into everything.  She can now reach stuff on the kitchen table and on the edges of the counter.  I found that out the hard way about a week ago. 

Grace was in the living room, while I emptied the dishwasher.  I put my largest Pyrex mixing bowl on the kitchen table until I had a moment to get on the floor to try to fit it back into the cabinet.  I went to check on Grace in the living room and completely forgot about the glass bowl.  That is, until later, when I heard a crash in the kitchen. 

My heart stopped.  I ran into the kitchen and saw her standing there in the middle of all of that broken glass.  I slowed down so I wouldn't scare her.  I didn't want her to move, but she doesn't understand any of that yet.  By some miracle I didn't cut my feet when I ran into the kitchen and scooped her up.  She only had a few tiny scratches on the tops of her feet where the little pieces of glass bounced up at her.  (Another miracle!) 

She was only out of my sight for a few seconds!  Now, I follow her everywhere she goes!  And I don't empty the dishwasher until I know I have time to put everything away!  Nothing can sit on the table or counter! 

So, that pretty much explains why I skipped menu planning (and other posts) recently! 

I have some new recipe posts to share with you in the near future.  I'll be up late the next few weeks trying to get caught up on posting! 

In the meantime, I'd love it if you'd check out my latest product review and giveaway for Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ!  3 winners will be chosen, 8 chances to win!   (giveaway ends Sunday, September 26th) 



This week, I'm really in the mood for some really good comfort food.  I don't want to do a whole lot of food shopping this week, so I'll be using what we have in the freezer or pantry to creat this week's meals. 

Here's what I'm in the mood for this week: 

  • Monday:  Shepherd's Pie
  • Tuesday:  leftover Chinese Food from the weekend
  • Wednesday:  Cowboy Stew
  • Thursday:  Roasted Chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies
  • Friday:  leftovers
  • Saturday:  tuna casserole ***
  • Sunday:  undecided  

Grace and I are having company on Wednesday for lunch and a playdate.  I figure a big pot of Cowboy Stew will be a perfect for lunch for us mommies and I'll make some mac and cheese for the kids.  Joe and I will just have the Cowboy Stew for dinner later that night too.  I'll have to make it on the stove this time since I haven't gotten around to getting a new crock pot yet.

***I've never made tuna casserole before.  I'm not sure if I'll like it.  But we have a lot of tuna in our pantry, so I thought I'd make it and see how it goes. I'll keep you posted! 

If you would like to share your Tuna Casserole Recipe or suggestions, just post a link (or the recipe) in the comments section. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog Love:

We're right in the middle of a really busy weekend, but I wanted to share a quick Blog Love post with you.  Here are a few things in blog-land that have caught my eye this week: 

Just in time for apple season, Lisa shares a tutorial for her Stouffer's Harvest Apples Copycat Recipe.  I love fried apples and cannot wait to try this recipe!  I have 2 granny smith apples on my kitchen counter, so I'm thinking I'll be making this recipe very soon! 
Just so you know, Lisa and her family follow a Gluten Free diet.  She shares a lot of recipes (including this one) that are safe for her GF family.  Check out her blog, Extraordinary Life.


Here is yet another reason that I need to get my sewing machine fixed and learn (again) how to sew!  How adorable is this Barn Tent?  Not only is this tent oh-so-cute, it's also frugal!  Christy was able to make this tent using a $3 flat sheet from Walmart, a thrift shopped picture frame and a Ralph Lauren bedskirt that she also found in a thrift shop!  I love crafty stuff!  But FRUGAL crafty stuff is even better!  If you haven't checked out From Glitter to Gumdrops yet....you really should!  Christy is super-crafty!  She makes so many great kid-friendly items and lots and lots of fun cupcakes!  Mmmm! 
 



If you have a picky eater at your dinner table, you should really check out this Sneaky Foods post over at Frugality is Free.  I know that I try to sneak some veggies into our recipes, but it's always good to be reminded!  Frugality is Free even takes it to another level by using veggie scraps to sneak add some vegetables into lasagna and meatballs!  Read her post to find out how she added 8 cups (8 CUPS!!!) of veggies to her lasagna and her picky eaters didn't even notice!  Awesome! 


I'll be linking this (a little late) post to Share Your Faves at It's a Blog Party!  where you can find a linky party every day of the week!



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Friday, September 17, 2010

***giveaway closed***200th Post: Product Review & Giveaway ~ Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ

I am so excited to be posting my 200th post!  To celebrate, I'm sharing a product review of a great local business as well as a giveaway!  Continue reading for more details! 

Joe and I love BBQ sauces and dry rubs.  For a while, we were always coming home from the grocery store, gourmet shop, farmers' market, etc. with new sauces to try.  It got to the point that we had at least a  year's worth of BBQ sauce in our apartment.  When we moved, we promised to finish what we had in the pantry before we bought new sauces! 

The past few months, I've been making my own bbq sauce.  Amazingly, we were out of sauce on a night that I planned barbecue chicken for dinner.  I found a recipe in a cook book and tweaked it a bit.  Now, I try to keep a batch of my homemade sauce in the fridge at all times. 

Even though I make my own bbq sauce, it's always fun for us to try a new brand that we find at the store or hear about from a friend. 

Recently, we had the chance to sample some Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ products.  The nice people at Butch's BBQ sent us a bottle of the Mild Smack Your Lips BBQ Sauce.  And also a jar of the Mild Magic Dust Dry Rub.

We tried the Mild Magic Dust Dry Rub first.  I put Joe to work and had him grill up some pork chops for dinner last week while I boiled some potatoes.  Before heading out to the back yard, he simply rubbed some of the seasoning on both sides of the pork.  Once he walked out the back door to grill the chops, I stopped paying attention.  Grilling is his job!  And if I'm getting a break from having to make dinner (or even just break from preparing part of dinner), I'm not going to interfere!  (Click here to order.) ***

Next, we sampled the Mild Smack Your Lips BBQ Sauce. Again, I left the grilling to Joe! He threw a few pieces of boneless chicken breast on the grill while I prepared some Easy Peasy Pasta (recipe to be posted soon). This time, Joe grilled the chicken first, then just before it was finished he brushed some of the sauce on both sides. (Click here to order.) ***

***Note: I am not being compensated in any way if you choose to order.  I'm simply making it easy for you by providing links to the BBQ Essentials Section of the website, should you decide to order.***


We really enjoyed both of the products and consider Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ products to be "right up there" with our long-time favorite sauces and dry rubs!  Joe liked the Magic Dust Dry Rub so much that he used it on his buttered potatoes instead of salt and pepper! And I can't wait to use the BBQ sauce in my Barbecue Chicken Salad recipe in place of my homemade sauce!

Keep in mind, we did not use these products to their fullest potential and we still really think they are great!  But if you want to use the barbecue sauce and dry rub as intended, then check out the recipes posted on the website including Butch's Barbecue Pulled Pork. 


  
Have you heard of Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ?  No?  Let me fill you in! 

Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ has won over 600 awards, both national and international.  Including Best Ribs in a Throwdown! With Bobby Flay on the Food Network! 


I became familiar with Butch Lupinetti and his company while watching the  repeat episode of Throwdown!  My cousin was visiting for the weekend and was so excited to see her former employer on the show!  (Turns out, a few of my cousins had worked for Butch in the past.) Since that weekend, I've seen the episode several times and each time I was pulled in by what his wife calls his "larger than life personality".

Butch was born and raised on a farm in Pemberton, NJ.  That is where he learned how to harvest and cook a pig.  In the 60s and 70s, he toured with a rock band, opened a country western bar and in the late 80s he began entering in bbq competitions. 

He created a traveling barbecue pit that not only included a 10 foot rotisserie oven, but could hold 600 lbs of meat!  And by 1990, he started Butch's Smack Your Lips Barbecue in Mount Laurel.  There's even a Smack Your Lips BBQ Cookbook and other fun merchandise available on the website.

Locals can also find Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ at the Wells Fargo Center (formerly the Wachovia Center) in Philadelphia.  Their booth opens 2 hours before any sports event or show scheduled at the Wells Fargo Center! 

Very recently, Butch passed away while vacationing with his family.  I've been in touch with his wife, Lynne, and she tells me that they were devastated by his sudden passing and that they "are committed to keeping the business going as a viable entity, as a tribute to the passion Butch had for BBQ." 

She also shared with me one of Butch's favorite sayings and wanted me to share it with you as a reminder to not rush the cooking process:   

"Cook it low, cook it slow, serve no swine before it's time"
Lynne also tells me that they will be updating the website to include Butch's most recent project:  an instructional DVD that will guide you through the cooking process of ribs, pork, brisket and chicken.  The instructional DVD will be available for purchase in about 30 days! 

A scholarship fund has been started in memory of Butch Lupinetti and has "topped $5,000 in donations". His family hopes that "a worthy student will use the scholarship to advance their cooking skills and become a master of culinary taste." 

Donations to the Butch Lupinetti Scholarship Fund may be made by sending your contributions to the Burlington County College Foundation for the Culinary Program, the Enterprise Center at BCC, 300 College Circle, Suite 256 in Mount Laurel.


Now on to the giveaway information! 

Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ 
invites you to become a pitmaster in your own backyard! 
Three Under the Oak Tree readers will recieve:

a bottle of Mild Smack Your Lips BBQ Sauce
and
a jar of Mild Magic Dust Dry Rub



Here's how you enter:   


Mandatory entry:


  • Visit the Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ website and leave a comment here telling me something you learned from visiting the site.  (1 entry)
I know I already provided a lot of information from the website, but hey, just go check it out!   


Additional entries: 

  • Like Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ on FaceBook and let them know that Under the Big Oak Tree sent you!  (1 entry) 

  • Like our page on Facebook and mention this giveaway on your wall, linking back to this post.  (2 entries)

  • Follow this blog publicly with Google Friend Connect.  (1 entry)

  • Follow @TheBigOakTree on Twitter (button on the sidebar) and tweet this giveaway.  (1 entry)  

  • Blog about this giveaway (linking back to this post) and provide URL to your post in a comment.  (2 entries)  

 Please note:

  • You can earn up to 8 entries for your chance to win!
  • Additional entries are valid only if the mandatory entry is completed.
  • Each entry requires a separate comment. Leave 2 comments for tasks that earn 2 entries.
  • Please include your email address with each entry.
  • Giveaway open to US and Canada residents only. 
  • Giveaway ends on Sunday, September 26th, 2010 at 10:00 pm EST.
  • Winners will be selected via random.org and contacted by email.
  • Winners will have 48 hours to respond to claim prizes!


Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way to do this review.  Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ provided me with 2 non-returnable products for my family to sample and review as well as the products provided for this giveaway.  The opinions stated in this review are honest and my own. 



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our Wish List just keeps getting bigger!

Joe and I have had the same furniture for 15 years. Joe bought it when we were dating.  It's really amazing that we still have it, but when we lived in our apartment for so many years, we didn't want to buy new furniture until we bought a house. Now that we have a house, we really can't fit new furniture into the budget just yet. So, it's always been at the bottom of both of our wish lists! It just moved itself up a few spaces on the list.
Our recliner got stuck in the open position a couple of weekends ago. It's been getting more and more difficult to close recently, and finally one day when Joe was trying to get out of it, it wouldn't close. When he did manage to get up and out of the chair, he moved it and a bunch of nuts and bolts fell out of it!

It's crazy, when we lived in the apartment, we never used it. I guess the placement of it wasn't comfortable at the apartment. When we moved to the house 3 years ago, we started to use it a bit more. After Grace was born, the chair was in constant use. That's where we sat when we fed her or cuddled with her. Even now, she still likes to fall asleep in my arms in that recliner! I've tried sitting with her on the sofa and it just doesn't work for her!

Thank goodness Joe was able to fix it. His quick fix will buy us a little more time before we can fit a new one into the budget. Hopefully, by then, we'll be able to get a new sofa, recliner and maybe a coffee table, too!  And when the time comes, CSN Stores is going to be the first place I'll look! 

Blog Love: Back to School Edition

I know that school has been in session for a few weeks for a lot of you.  Even a few of the schools in our area have started before Labor Day.  My nephews started school the last week of August and my nieces just started earlier this week.  Funny since they live less than 15 miles of each other!  But to me, it isn't officially back to school season until AFTER Labor Day!  That's how it was for all those years I went to school and it just doesn't seem right any other way!   What can I say, I'm old and set in my ways! 

To celebrate back to school, I thought I'd show some Blog Love to some of the back to school themed posts I've been seeing around blog-land!

Liz from Hoosier Homemade always serves up the cutest theme-appropriate cupcakes to her family and friends!  Liz's cupcakes are truly a work of art!  She sure didn't let us down with her Back To School Apple Cupcakes!  Check out Liz's Cupcake Tuesday blog carnival.  Each week, she posts one of her fabulous creations and invites everyone to link up with their favorite cupcake recipes! 





Do you need a creative After School Snack idea for your kids?  Debbi Does Dinner Healthy & Low Calorie shares a great post on how to Make Ice Cream in a Baggie!  What a fabulous way to get your kids involved in making their own ice cream!  It's an after school snack and after school project all in one! 




Valerie from Family Frugal Fun Blog always has great ideas for keeping the kids busy!  I seriously want to play at her house!  But, I'll settle on reading her blog and getting kid-craft ideas for when Grace is old enough for arts and crafts.  Yesterday, Valerie shared her crafty ideas on DIY School Supplies on The 10! Show in Philadelphia! 



Lisa shared her Lunch Box Experiment series on her blog, Extraordinary Life.  Part one of the series focuses on the Ziploc 3 compartment container and how she uses it to pack her kids' lunches.  In part two, she shares some tasty ideas for kid-friendly lunches.  In part three, Lisa and her kids put The Easy Lunch Boxes system to the test in a product review and she has  video clips to prove it!  Even after all that other lunch box talk, Lisa went on to review a lunch kit from Planet Lunch Box, a lunch box that her son LOVES!

This post will be linked to Share Your Faves #14 over at It's a Blog Party

Chocolate Covered Banana Cake

As soon as Grace was ready to eat solids, we started her with bananas.  She loves bananas!  I try to keep them in the house all the time, but they seem to get too ripe before we get to all of them. 

Instead of wasting the almost-too-ripe bananas, I started to stick them ino the freezer to use for smoothies.  I didn't realize just how many bananas I was putting into the freezer!  I found out last week, when I was looking for some veggie broth in the bottom of the freezer!  I have way too many bananas for smoothies! 

I started to look online for some ideas.  I figured banana bread would be a great use of the bananas.  But there's only so much banana bread Joe and I can eat. 

I found a great recipe for Banana Chocolate Coffee Cake also known as Mexican Monkey Cake posted at Mum in Bloom.  I already planned on adding chocolate chips to my banana bread, but this recipe sounded so much better with a layer of chocolate in the center!  Mmmmm! 

I was expecting a visit from an old friend and wanted to make something yummy for us to eat while we chatted and caught up on each other's lives!  This cake was perfect!  Not only did it save me from throwing away the bananas (or stashing them in the freezer for who knows how long!), it was sooo easy to make and I actually had all of the ingredients! 

If you have any bananas stashed away in your freezer, I suggest that you take a few out to thaw and whip up one of these coffee cakes right away!  You won't be sorry! 


I mostly followed the original recipe, I noted the changes at the bottom.  Oh, I changed the name of the cake since I don't drink coffee!  I figured that would be okay! This is what I call it: 


 Chocolate Covered Banana Cake

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if using a glass pan)
  • Grease and 8" x 8" baking pan
  • Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate chips.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine softened butter, sugar and egg.  Mix until fluffy with an electric mixer.
  • Add bananas, yogurt and milk.  Mix well.
  • Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix on low speed just until blended. 
  • Spread about 1/2 the batter into the greased pan. 
  • Sprinkle top of batter with half of the chocolate chip/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. 
  • Spread remaining batter on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining chocolate chip/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. 
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes. 
  • Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in pan on wire rack. 

I didn't get a picture of the cake on the plate. 
 Every time I placed a piece onto a dish,
it was devoured before I had time to grab the camera! 
(I'm such a piggy!)

The chocolate in the center melted and reminded me of a layer cake with frosting in the center.The original recipe called for walnuts.  I didn't have any, so I left them out.  They weren't missed!  But I may add some to the cake when I make this over the holidays.  Yes, I am adding this recipe to my holiday baking...it was that good!  And since I liked this cake so much, when friends invited us to dinner on Labor Day, I knew right away what I was going to take for dessert!  It was still warm when we served it after dinner and I think that made it taste even better! 

When I made this the second time, I divided the chocolate chips in half.  I used less cinnamon and brown sugar when I mixed them with the chocolate chips for the center.  For the top, I only added the chocolate chips.  I liked it better this way, since the first time, the cinnamon and brown sugar on the top tasted slightly burnt.  I don't fault the original recipe for that though.  Nor do I blame the baker! Nope, I put all the blame on my really, really old came-with-the-house oven! 

I'll be sharing this recipe at the following blog carnivals: 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties.....

Just wanted to do a quick post letting you all know that I am having some Internet troubles and might be missing for a couple of days.  My computer is super-slow to begin with and now, it's just really bad.  I'm hoping Joe will be able to do something to save it, I need it to last a bit longer until we can afford a new computer or laptop. 

Posting is taking a lot longer than usual, so hopefully, Joe will figure something out soon. I have so many posts planned for the near future:  new recipes, product reviews, giveaways......I'll try to post something later tonight when I have a bit more time to deal with the "slow" issue!  Right now, Grace is tearing apart her playroom, so I really have to go!  I'll be spending naptime cleaning the kitchen and getting dinner started, but I do plan on trying to post later tonight.  We'll see what happens! 

I hope everyone is having a much better day than me!  :) 
Hugs! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Follow Us Monday Morning: I was featured!

Photobucket Hey!  I'm the Follow Us Monday Morning Hot Blog of the Week over at Frugality is Free!  How fun is that?  I'm super-excited!  I've only been participating in the blog hops for a couple of weeks now, but I've been having a lot of fun meeting new friends and reading new blogs! 

Thank you to everyone that has been to visit me Under the Big Oak Tree!  I love the company!  I'll be sure to pop over to your neck of the woods for a visit as well!  I blog during nap time and Grace's down time, so it might take me a little bit to get over to see all of you, but I'll get there!   See you soon! 

And if you haven't participated in Follow Us Monday Morning before, click the button at the top of the post and join in on the fun!!!! 


Now to answer the Follow Us Monday Morning question of the week! 

What birthday has hit you the hardest?


For me, the hardest birthday was year I turned 26.  It just hit me that in 4 years I would be 30 and I was nowhere near where I wanted to be in my life.  Joe and I were dating at the time and we had a date to go to breakfast on my birthday. Joe worked night work at the time, so we usually only saw each other on the mornings that I had off from work. 

We didn't live too far from each other, so that morning I walked over to his house and let myself in, walked upstairs, climbed into bed with him and cried!  Really!  All because I turned 26!  Silly, I know!  We laugh about it now but I think  he was really worried about  how I was going to react when I actually did turn 30.  Turned out, I was fine with 30.  Still not where I wanted to be (goal-wise) but 30 wasn't too bad! 

Boy, I sure wish I was turning 30 this year!  :) 

Menu Plan Monday: Week of September 6th

Yep, it's Monday....again!  You all know what that means, right?  It means that it's time to figure out what's for dinner for the week ahead!  Need some inspiration?  Check out the many, many menu plans linked up to I'm an Organizing Junkie's weekly Menu Plan Monday

I didn't do a lot of cooking last week.  It seemed that most nights last week, we weren't really hungry by the time dinner rolled around.  We either picked at leftovers, had a salad or ate a bowl of cereal.  I used to feel guilty about weeks like that, but now, not so much!  Any meals I get to roll over into the next week, just helps to stretch our food budget a bit further! 

I also didn't get to do the freezer cooking that I had planned for last week.  Well, I did manage to cook about 6 lbs. of ground beef.  Not nearly all that I had planned, but 6 lbs. of COOKED ground beef in the freezer is better than nothing!  Oh, I also cooked a pound of black beans, too. 

I'm planning a pretty good menu for this week.  With my track record lately, I doubt I'll get to all of the meals, but I'll be happy to prepare at least half of what I have planned!   I still didn't get around to making the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili, but I'm carrying it over into this week's plan!  I'm determined!  Maybe that pound of black beans in the fridge, will be the inspiration I need to get that chili made! 

I'm really looking forward to making the Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash that I linked above.  We love black beans and we love spaghetti squash!  I never thought of combining the two, until I saw the recipe posted at Debbi Does Dinner...Healthy!  If you haven't found her blog yet, go and check it out!  Debbi has some fabulous recipes posted and in case you didn't guess by the title of her blog....her recipes are HEALTHY!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Relax & Surf Sunday: Labor Day Weekend

BWS tips buttonI hope that everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  I really cannot believe that the summer is already over.  It really seemed to pass by quickly this year. 

This weekend, we're getting a sneak peek at some nice fall weather!  Saturday was so breezy and beautiful!  I'm wishing for more of the same for Sunday!  I'm sad to see summer go, but the fall is my favorite time of year. 

The past couple of weeks, I've been having a lot of fun participating in a few of the many blog hops available in blogland!  If you haven't tried the blog hops yet, Relax & Surf Sunday is a great one to start off with, since it's a very easy-going blog hop.  Only rule is that there's NO RULES!!!! 
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