Chocolate Coconut Decadence

I'd never made brownies before trying these Gooey Chocolate Coconut Bars . OH MY WORD ! These are the best brownies I've ever made !! (and eaten, for that matter)

The base ...
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

The topping:
4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup shredded coconut

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Line an 8″x8″ square pan baking paper.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the butter, egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until the mixture forms a stiff dough. Press the dough evenly into the pan. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add egg and mix well, then add the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until well blended. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until smooth then fold in the coconut. I actually got excited and mis-read this part and threw it all in a bowl and mixed it at once ... except the coconut, I folded that in at the end. It didn't seem to make any difference ...

Spread the topping evenly over the base then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are just set and the center is a little wobbly. Cool for 40 minutes in the pan before lifting out and slicing. The center on mine was VERY wobbly ... but the edges were cooked so I let it be finished. It was gooey and maybe even runny the first night when we ate it and it was absolutely perfect the next day after it had sat over night !

We served it with a bit of freshly whipped cream ....

Hillbilly Bread

This recipe was shared with me by a dear friend in Alaska. I can still smell it's aroma in her warm, and inviting kitchen on a cold winter day.
This is my go-to bread recipe. It's no-fuss and delicious!
Smeared with a dab of butter on each slice and it's heavenly! :)

2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon salt

Mix above ingredients together and let stand for 30 minutes.
Add the following ingredients to the first mixture:

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 1/2 cups wheat flour

Mix well. Let rise until double in size. Punch down and make into 3 loafs. Place into greased pan and let raise to desired size.
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from pans and let cool on rack.

* I usually halve this recipe for my little family, but have, at least once, made the entire recipe and froze a loaf. I like to form a "bowl" bread on my Pampered Chef stone. 

Printable Recipe:
Hillbilly Bread

Pecan Pie Bars - Veganized :)

There was such a buzz among The Beans Blog fans today about these Pecan Pie Bars!
As soon as Bonnie posted a link to them I printed the recipe out and made them within an hour.
It's time for me to grocery shop again and the pickins are kinda slim around here.
But, I DID have pecans thank goodness! All the items I had on-hand happened to be vegan as well.
I will add my substitutes where applicable. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical because I LOVE butter and almost always have it on-hand. But I can testify that these are AMAZING!
Go make them NOW! :)

Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 1- 9x13-inch pan
About 24 bars
Recipe found HERE

1 1/2 sticks* unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance sticks)
2 cups AP (plain) flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz pecans (about 2 cups) (Organic TEXAS pecans! Mmm!)
1 stick* unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, because I ran out of the sticks...slim pickins remember? ;)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey (I used Organic Raw Blue Agave)
2 tbsp half and half I (I used almond milk) **

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the first four ingredients (butter through salt) until mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle into a 19x13x2-inch pan and with a metal spatula, press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare filling.

2. In a food processor, coarsely chop the pecans. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar, honey and cream. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

3. Stir in pecans. Pour pecan mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

4. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars. Will keep, covered, for 5 days at room temperature.

* for the Aussies ... 1 stick of butter = 113g. (and 1.5 sticks of butter = 170g)
** note from Bonnie ... I used evaporated milk.

menu plan monday // Khrista 04.18.11

Eat Out - Choir Concert
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili with Cornbread Bites
Bell Peppers Stuffed with Salsa, Rice & Beans (Crockpot) (Recipe Coming Soon!)
"Spicy" Spaghetti (Recipe Coming Soon!) with French Bread
Homemade Pizza
Eat Out
Split Pea & Brown Rice Soup with Hillbilly Bread (Recipe Coming Soon!)

Bonnie's Menu ... 18 - 24 April 2011

Links for Recipes ...

Wombok Salad
Meatball Subs
Chicken Taco Salad
Quinoa Vegetable Soup

I'm so excited that it's SOUP weather !!


Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

This pie tastes every bit as good as it looks!
The filling is made with sure-jell fruit pectin. (You'll want the one in the pink box)

You will need a baked pie shell. My Mom makes the best crust around so I enlisted her help on this as mine never quite turns out the way I want.
Her famous pie crust recipe is as follows:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening, diced
Blend this together with a pastry blender until the mixture looks the size of peas. (you can use 2 knives, if you don't have a pastry blender)

Next, add 1/4 cup boiling water and mix together.
We get the best results using a rice paddle for this part. (or some type of flat plastic spoon)
Next, add 1 Table spoon of milk and mix.

After it's all mixed together divide it into two balls. This makes two pie shells for a round 9'' pie plate. (We saved our second pie crust for the next day and made a chocolate cream pie!)

Roll out the crust with a rolling pin and place in the pie plate. Don't forget to poke the bottom of the crust with a fork so it doesn't bubble up while baking. Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it because every oven is different and you don't want your crust to burn. We're looking for a nice golden brown!


4 pints (about 3 pounds) fresh strawberries. (Do not skimp on this! It sounds like a lot but you will need them)

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons Sure-Jell

Generous pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice (this will be added after the sauce is cooked)

For the filling:
1. Select about 6oz (a bit more than a cup) of the "unattractive" strawberries.
Halve the large ones. Place in a food processor and blend into a smooth puree. You should end up with about 3/4 cup strawberry sauce.
2. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in strawberry sauce.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (with a heat-proof rubber spatula) and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to avoid scorching.
Once it comes to a boil, set your timer for 2 minutes, stirring all the while.
It will look frothy at first but will darken and thicken as it cooks.
After 2 minutes remove from burner and transfer to a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir. Let cool to room temperature.
3. While the filling cools pick through the remaining strawberries and measure out 2 pounds of the prettiest ones. Halve only the extra large ones, leave the smaller ones whole.
When the filling is cool, add the strawberries to the bowl and mix to coat.
Next, pour this into the pie shell and pile into mound. If any of the halved strawberries are facing up, turn them face down.
Chill for 2 hours and serve with homemade whipped cream.

Meatball Subs

i have so many fun recipes to share with you !

let's start with this one ....

i tried my sister ellie's families favorite meatball recipe last week and boy was it good !

i am so excited that there is still half a recipe in our freezer waiting

for us to eat them very soon !!

i had to adapt it a little bit because i ran out of ketchup ... i used one cup ketchup

and then one tin of diced tomatoes. i think i'll do it that way again.

a tin of tomatoes is a heck of a lot cheaper than ketchup here !


we made our meatballs into meatball subs !

and they were amazingly delicious !

we used ...

white hot dog buns
2 or 3 meatballs, depending on person eating
provolone, jarlsburg (swiss) or tasty (cheddar) cheese ... again, depending on person eating !
and jono (our 9 year old) added paul newmans south west dressing to his

easy peasy !
perfect for dinner and then lunch the next day !

you should try it.

ps ... we had cooked the meatballs the night before and then just heated the up for the subs ! even easier !!

Homemade Wheat Buns

These can be made in a bread machine, or with a mixer or even by hand!
(I made them in my bread machine until I received a Kitchenaid from my husband for my birthday recently!)
If making with a breach machine add all ingredients except yeast. Add the yeast last, in a well made in the flour. Select 'Dough Cycle.'

1 1/3 cup warm water
¼ cup Sugar (scant)
2 ¼ teaspoon bread machine yeast
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to warm and then turn off.
Place water yeast and sugar in mixing bowl.
Allow to sit about 5 minutes, until foamy.
Add oil, salt, and flour and allow mixer to knead for 10 minutes.
Remove dough onto floured surface and knead into a tidy ball.
Put ball of dough back into mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or tea towel, and place in warm oven with bowl of warm water placed on bottom rack.
Allow to rise until doubled in size.
(When dough cycle on the bread machine is complete continue as follows.)
Roll on floured surface, into long log, and cut into 9 pieces.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet and flatten dough pieces until they are the thickness of a pancake and sides are almost touching.
Cover sheet with cloth and put in warm oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Remove from oven.
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 17 minutes.

Printable Recipe:

Homemade Wheat Buns

Sloppy Lentils (Crockpot)

Most Americans have eaten them... Camp food... Busy weeknight meal... Birthday party meal...

..::Sloppy Joes::..

Here is a much healthier version that tastes JUST like sloppy joes.
My 10 year old daughter, who has a selective palette, LOVES these. 
When I made them recently, she ate them as leftovers two days in a row! :) 
HERE is a little write up on lentils...many reasons why we love them around here! 
I serve these with homemade wheat buns.

1 3/4 cups water
1 cup puy lentils, rinsed

1 cup chopped onion
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon (heaping) chili powder
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1 Tbsp white vinegar
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine all your ingredients in the crockpot. Turn on low and cook for approximately 5 hours, until lentils are tender and the mixture has thickened and absorbed most of the liquids.

Printable Recipe:

Sloppy Lentils

Note: Adapted from:

Shared HERE

Banana Bread

The kind my Mom used to make. A recipe my whole family uses.
This is my go-to banana bread recipe!

¾ cup of sugar
1 ½ cups of mashed bananas (4 large)
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup chopped nuts, if you like
(I love banana walnut anything!)

Heat oven to 325°.
Grease a loaf pan, either 9x5x3 or 8 ½ x4 ½ x2 ½ inches.
Mix sugar, bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts, if you are adding them. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients until well mixed.
Pour into pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of the bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes, then loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan.
Let cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.

Printable Recipe:
Banana Bread

Jamie's Rogan Josh

i was given Jamie's Ministry of Food for Christmas. I've had this cookbook from the library a couple of times and I love it ! I love the concept behind it ... If you haven't read it, you should see if your library has it and check it out ...

Anyway ... I decided to try the Lamb Rogan Josh the other night ... only I did it with chicken. You can buy a Rogan Josh paste or you can make Jamie's paste. I made Jamie's. I had a bit of an issue though. I went to my favorite fruit and veg shop to get fresh coriander and the shop was closed ! So ... I went to the grocery store and they were OUT ! By the time I discovered it, the store was closing (early since it's the holidays) so I couldn't even run out to another grocery store to get it. So ... that was missing. Bummer. I thought I had some of the dried stuff at home which I was going to substitute but it turned out I didn't ... I will for sure have to use that next time.

The ingredients for the paste are :
2 cloves of garlic ... I used 4
fresh ginger, about an inch
75g roasted peppers - Jamie says from a jar but I just roasted my own
1 TBLS paprika
1 TBLS smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 TBLS peanut oil
2 TBLS tomato puree
1 fresh red chilli
small bunch of fresh coriander
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns

Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black pepercorns over med/high heat til fragrant. Throw them in the pestle and mortar and grind until fine. At this point, Jamie says to transfer to a food processor but I just kept adding the ingredients to the pestle and mortar til I had a nice paste.

For the curry: (As I made it ... )

800g chicken breast, chunks
1 big onion
1 red chilli
fresh ginger, 1 inch
peanut oil
spoonful of butter
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 TBLS balsamic vinegar
400g tin chopped tomatoes
800g chicken stock (I used a litre and it was too much)
paste (see above)
2 handfuls of red lentils
There should also have been a small bunch of fresh coriander but I didn't have it ...

Chop the onion, slice the chilli, peel and chop the ginger, chop coriander. Heat a heavy bottomed pan on med/high heat. Add butter and oil Add onion, chilli, ginger and coriander. Cook 10 minutes til onions are softened and golden. Add the chicken. Salt and pepper. Cook until lightly brown. Add balsamic vinegar. Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock and curry paste. Stir in lentils. Bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer with the lid on ... about an hour.

Serve with rice. And greek yoghurt. And naan. Oh ... and coriander on top ... but again, didn't have it.

The naan was good the first night but today when we had it again ... using the dough I made the other night that had been in the fridge for two days, it was even better. Look how much it puffed up under the grill !

menu plan monday // Khrista 04.11.11

Click images for recipes
 Crockpot Sloppy Lentils with Bread Machine Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
(Will post this recipe this week!)


 Homemade Mac & Cheese with Quinoa Pasta & Broccolini

Black Bean Chili with Sweet Potato

Mexican-Style Lasagna (moved from last week)





Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Bonnie's Menu ... 11 - 17 April 2011

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie

From last week ...

" I posted this on facebook this morning ... The Beans Blog ~ i'm getting ready to plan a ONE MONTH menu. with my crazy busy schedule it 's hard to stay on top of weekly planning sessions. so, i'm going to try doing a one month menu ... my issue has always been the fresh fruit/veg but with online shopping ... and being able to shop today and not have it delivered until a week, two weeks and three weeks from now, I think it's going to finally work for me !!

Here we go ! I'm still going to post only weekly menu's but I'm going to write the posts now and schedule them to post automatically in a week ... two weeks ... three weeks. Sheesh ... ain't technology amazing ? I could probably do them all in one post but I refer to my menu plans when I'm at work to see what we're having that night or the next and to make sure that I don't need to stop at the store on the way home (sometime I forget to get stuff or it gets used for something else ....) and it's just easier to have them posted each week than to have to go searching !! "

This is week two ....

In all honesty ... I did NOT get this monthly menu completed in one hit ! In fact, I only completed two weeks and then realized that it was going to be much more complicated than I thought to plan an entire month at a time. So ... I need to work out some bugs ! I'm going to give it another go though because I think if I can get a system that works, it will be greatly beneficial !



We are going to try Ellie's favorite meatballs !
Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

Baked Eggs and Bacon in Potato Bowls
Corn on the Cob


Burrito Bowl

Honey Sesame Chicken

Homemade Fettuccine
to go with Spaghetti Bolognaise* in Freezer

*crockpot recipe
if not using a crockpot ... same ingredients, but use this recipe ...



I'm adding a new feature to my menu plans this week ... printable shopping list, as requested ! You can click on the link and print it straight from Scribd or you can download it using the button below and then print it from your computer ... I'd love some feedback if you use it. I'm open to suggestions too ...

Shopping List 11 - 17 April 2011

Fruits of the Forest Streusel

I saw a Blueberry Crumble recipe on line the other day and wanted to try it. But, I didn't have all the ingredients, blueberries being one of them and the crumble topping seemed a bit weak. So, I decided to make something up. Sort of. I used the filling recipe from the recipe I'd seen ... but substituted for the blueberries and then used the streusel topping from that magnificent apple cheesecake streusel

Here's what I did :

1 box frozen Forest Fruits - no, I didn't bother to thaw them, I just used them frozen
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
a drizzle of lemon juice
a pinch of salt

Mix together ingredients from above and set aside.

Base and Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix together all ingredients. Push 1/2 (or maybe not quite half) of the streusel mix into the bottom of a springform pan, forming a very thin base. Top with berry mixture and then the rest of the streusel mix.

Bake in preheated oven on 180 til fruit is bubbling through the top edges and streusel topping is golden brown. I wasn't sure how long it would take so didn't set a timer and forgot to look at the clock .... but my best guess is that it was between 40 and 50 minutes.

Let set for a bit before trying to remove it from the pan !

Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. (no sugar, just a spot of vanilla needed in the whipping !)

Burrito Bowl

This is such an easy meal ... I love it.

We just throw everything on the table, or on the kitchen counter, and everyone

makes their own bowl to their own liking.

Here's what we have in ours, but you can do whatever you like, that' s the beauty of the burrito bowl !

Brown Basmati Rice, cooked and mixed with lime juice and fresh coriander (cilantro)
Black Beans
Grated Cheese
Spring Onions, Sliced
Black Olives
Sour Cream
Salsa (optional)
Jalapenos (optional)

That's it ... then just fill your bowl with whatever combination takes your fancy ...

My bowl.

Rory's bowl.



the mini-me ~ a bella russia original

last night we did pizza night with friends

it is tradition with these friends that you make your signature pizza on your first visit

so, last night ... it was Bel's first visit ... and she pulled off a ripper


she calls it

You will need ...

Pizza dough
Tomato based pizza sauce
Kalamata olives, diced
Red onion, slivered
Feta cheese, finely diced
Broccoli, finely diced
Sun dried tomatoes, finely diced
Fresh parsley

Yogurt or sour cream
Garlic, crushed
Fresh chives, chopped

Here's how you make it ...

Mix yogurt (or sour cream) with garlic and chives to taste. Set aside.

From Bel ... and I quote "The key with the mini-me is the spacing and finely chopped-ness. It is a vegetarian dish from the backstreets of Florence. The recipe has been passed down through families over centuries and was initially dated back to some time near AD250."

Everything after her first sentence may or may not be fictional ....

Using your favorite pizza dough, spread it with a tomato based pizza sauce, evenly space all ingredients (as you will see demonstrated in the photo below). Top with a light sprinkling of mozzarella. Cook in pizza oven, BBQ or oven .... you decide.

Top with garlic chive yogurt ...

Pizza Dough

The long awaited pizza dough recipe!
After recieving my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday, I had to rework the recipe a bit.
I've included both a mixer method and hand mixing method in this recipe.

This dough makes enough for two pizzas.
You can freeze the dough for another day.
If you freeze it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or on the counter for 1 ½ hours.
Dough is easier to roll out at room temperature.

1 ½ cups warm water (105-115°F)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
*½  - 1 cup of all-purpose flour

·   Combine warm water and sugar in mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil
·   In a medium bowl, mix together the 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour and 1 ½ cups bread flour with the salt.
·   Turn mixer, attached with dough hook, on to lowest setting and slowly add flour and salt mixture. Raise speed after most of the flour is combined. Mix until dough forms into a ball *adding the remaining ½ cup – 1 cup of flour if necessary so that dough no longer appears sticky, and is easily handled.
·   Turn dough onto floured surface and knead briefly until smooth and elastic, sprinkling with flour until no longer sticky.
·   Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; place dough in bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Let rise in a warm spot until double in size. About 1 hour.
    (Tip: Turn oven on, set to ‘warm,’ for about 5 minutes and then shut it off. On the lower rack place a large bowl filled with the hottest water you can get out of the tap. Place the bowl of covered dough on the upper rack, close oven and allow the dough to rise in this warm moist spot.)
·   Punch down dough and cut in half. Roll out and place on pizza pans/stones lined with baking paper. You can also refrigerate or freeze in floured Ziploc freezer bags.

If Mixing by Hand: Combine water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Set aside until foamy. Stir in oil, flour and salt until the dough starts to gather around the spoon. (You may find that you will use less flour with this method.) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Spread onto pizza pans lined with baking paper.

Click image for printable recipe:

my birthday dinner ....

it was my birthday a couple of days ago.

my husband planned the most amazing surprise !

you can read about the whole day over on my simple beauty blog but

i'm just going to cut and paste and share the food bits of the story for you here ...

let's start with ... my neighbors coming over with birthday cocktails

i love having neighbors who are such a bit part of our lives !

when rory gets home, he says

'would you be totally disappointed if i told you i've made a reservation for us at a restaurant ?'

ummmm ... let me think about this for a minute ?!

i still don't have to cook ?

i get to go out ?

yeah ... i'm good !

rory got a phone call just as we were ready to leave, from our friend craig

he said 'we've got a present for bonnie,

would you guys swing by and pick it up on your way to dinner ?'

up until that phone call, i had NO IDEA anything suspicious might be happening

after that ... i wondered if all wasn't as it appeared !

but ... i had NO IDEA of the amazing surprise that lay in wait for me

weeks of planning, international conversations, importing of food

so ... we get to C & J's place to 'pick up the present'

and the house is all decorated

and something smells incredible ... (and very familiar)

and then there were shouts of surprise and the faces of other friends i love

rory hands me an envelope and says

'this is my present to you'

inside the envelope is this menu .........

the foods of my childhood !


(my requested birthday dinner every year since we had lived in Italy !)

now ... this is no easy feat ... because in my little girls mind, the vongole (clams)


well ... you can't get that here ...

in fact, you can't get clams here at all, unless they are in a can

so Rory IMPORTED them from New Zealand

can you believe that ?!

the food was amazing.

APPARENTLY, they had been cooking all afternoon ... I thought Rory was 'working late' !

Here's the Patatas Alioli and the Champinones Al Ajillo con pan (with bread), of course.

And then came the never ending supply of Gambas Al Ajillo ... OH YUM !!

Master Chefs in action ...

Amazing team work ...

And here's the Traditional Vongole ... with homemade fettucine ...

I'll have to find out what recipe he used for this ... he said it was a Jamie Oliver one.

And the Vongole like my Mom used to make, only with a spicy Casa de Ross twist.

And this recipe too, I'll have to write it down and share it with you ... it's a spicy tomato sauce ...

mmmmmmm !!!

Do you know one thing I loved about this night ?

There were so many things I loved ... but here's just one.

I loved that I was the only known clam lover of the bunch but they still cooked this for me !

And (almost) everyone tried the clams ! Some even liked them !

All of these dishes were new to everyone besides me and Rory, and everyone tried them !

And again ... liked (and even loved) them !

I love the adventurous nature of this group of friends !

And I love that they love to celebrate life.


Mom ... Rory insisted that I take this photo for you ....


Empty shells !!


When we were little, it was tradition in our house that all birthday cakes had to be chocolate.

So ... we have gazillions of birthday pictures of us COVERED IN CHOCOLATE !

BUT, once we were old enough to request our own birthday cake preference ... mine was

ALWAYS cheesecake (with cherries on top) !

My sweet friend Donna recently learned this about me and though she had never made one

before, she baked me the most wonderful birthday cheesecake ! with berries ! oh my !

and Jodie made cupcakes

that I have yet to try

but some came home with us and I will be having one for breakfast !

I was crowned 'birthday queen' and actually wore my 'crown' for a good hour.

Not the mask though ... it was way too hot for that !

Spoiled ? Yeah ... I can't disagree.

I have an amazing, thoughtful, selfless husband,

kind, encouraging and giving children,

enthusiastic, creative and (SNEAKY!!) friends,

an extended family like none other,

friends all over the world (thanks to the Navy and now facebook !) that i love


to top it all off ....

my very own website !!

I cannot wait for you all to see it !

Well ... you can sort of see it here but I've crossed off it's name (which you are going to LOVE)

because I don't want you to go there just yet.

I'll let you know when you can !

Craig and I are going to play with it a bit more first ...

by the way, Craig ... who is a music lover, not a web guru, designed this !

Look out world !


All in all ... this has been my best, most favorite birthday ever.

Thanks to everyone who was a part of it !

~ bon ~