Archives for the month of: July, 2011

My parents came to visit me in Omaha this weekend and I wanted to make something super special for their visit and for my dad’s birthday. My dad’s favorite cake is my Aunt Sue’s Classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (slightly borrowed from a Duncan Hines recipe). It is so easy to make, the hardest part is not eating all the sugar coated pineapple slices before the cake is finished.

My original plan was to make this cake a little boozy, but with little hands helping me in the kitchen I thought the PG version would be just as amazing. Never fear, I wrote down the booze substitutions for your drinking enjoyment. So go ahead and have a slice or two of this delicious, caramelized, pineapple cake.


1 pkg Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix

3 eggs

2  20 oz cans pineapple rings

1 1/3 cups pineapple juice (from the 2  20 oz cans)*

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 stick butter

2-3 tbsps rum (optional)

1 cup packed brown sugar

Maraschino cherries

*For the boozy version use 1 cup pineapple juice and 1/3 cup spiced rum


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2) In a medium bowl mix together the Duncan Hines® cake mix, eggs, pineapple juice and vegetable oil until smooth then set aside.

3) Melt butter in a a small bowl. (This is where you would add the 2-3 tbsp rum if you wanted to spice it up). Pour melted butter into 13 x 9 glass pan, completely covering the bottom. Sprinkle brown sugar over the buttered area.

4) Place pineapple slices on the butter-brown sugar mixture and place a single maraschino cherry inside each pineapple ring. Do this until the entire bottom is covered with pineapples and cherries.

5) Pour cake batter into the prepared dish, spreading evenly over the pineapple rings. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is a golden brown and not jiggly in the center. Let cool completely (20-30 minutes)

This might be the trickiest part so be extra careful so you don’t drop the cake. Though I wouldn’t judge if you ate it off the floor. 

6) Run a knife between the cake and the baking dish to make sure they won’t stick. Place cookie sheet face down on top of cool cake, hold the glass dish with your fingers and the cookie sheet with your thumb. When you feel secure flip the sheet and cake towards you and upside-down giving it a slight shake. The cake should easily fall out, revealing the perfectly caramelized pineapple.

Cut off a slice and share with your loved ones.


No booze here. Just a few of my favorite summertime ingredients thrown together on one plate. I’m always looking for an excuse to grill and this quick, easy recipe makes it possible. You can make this dish with any white, flakey fish with any combination of your favorite salad/salsa toppings. Your creativity and options are limitless.


Serves 1 to 2 people 

1-2 Tilapia Fillets

1-2 Ear(s) of corn

1 Avocado  (sliced or diced)

2 Lime wedges

1 1/2 Tbsp Cilantro

1 Tsp Olive Oil




1) Prep corn for grilling (remove husks, hairs etc..)

2) Grill corn over medium heat, rotating till all sides are golden brown with few darkened kernels. (15 minutes) Remove and let cool.

3) Place fresh or thawed tilapia fillets on grill. Flip after 5-6 minutes.

4) In a medium sized bowl combine corn kernels, avocado, juice from 1 lime wedge, cilantro, olive oil, salt and pepper.

5) Place grilled tilapia on plate, squeeze lime over fish and serve with fresh avocado-corn salad.

Popsicles, especially homemade ones, are what I love most about summer. They are a snack/drink hybrid and they cost less than a dollar to make! Who doesn’t love that? When I was little I would love to help make (and eat) Cherry Kool-Aid pops. Now, at 23, I wanted to make an adult friendly version without sacrificing the ice-cold portable goodness. I had heard of  “vodka pops”  (vodka + Kool Aid/ juice), but had never tried them. Because the margarita is a classic summertime cocktail, I thought it would be a good place to start.


Makes 4 small popsicles..and a little for the chef.

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup Tequila*

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

Splash of orange juice (optional)

*I used 1/3 cup of Tequila and my popsicles came out like delicious wet snow, I would suggest using a little less.


1) Mix all ingredients and pour into plastic/paper cups or popsicle mold.

2) Freeze overnight and enjoy the next day.

A couple days ago my brother, Todd, and I attempted to turn a popular 60s cocktail into a delicious, boozy bundt cake. The results – The Harvey Wallbanger. The Harvey Wallbanger a fruity, yet potent drink that consists of vodka, Galliano (lightly flavored vanilla herbed liqueur) and orange juice. Legend has it that a surfer dude named Harvey inspired this delicious concoction when he ran into a wall after downing a couple of these. Now one slice of this cake isn’t going to get you loaded, but I would watch out for those extra helpings of frosting.

Recipe derived from the book Booze Cakes 


For the Cake: 

1 box yellow cake mix

1 (3.3 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup vanilla vodka

1/4 cup Galliano liqueur

1/4 cup orange juice

For the Glaze 

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon vanilla vodka*

1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur*

* I doubled/tripled this amount- Hey we’re all adults here


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 inch bundt pan.

2) Beat cake mix, instant pudding, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla vodka, Galliano and orange juice until smooth. (About 3-4 minutes) Pour into greased bundt cake pan and cook for 45-50 minutes or until the bundt cake turns golden brown.

3) For the glaze mix confectioners sugar and the desired amount of orange juice, vanilla vodka and Galliano liqueur in a small bowl until creamy. Pour over cooled bundt cake and enjoy.

During my recent travels to Denver, Colorado, I saw amazing things, met great people and best of all tasted some of the best foods. Among my favorites was a restaurant called “Sushi Den” on South Pearl Street. My boyfriend and beer enthusiast, Nico Roesler, gave me a tour of the mile high city and at night we stayed at his dad’s (John) house.

For my graduation from the University of Kansas John gave me the best gift, a cookbook called “The Pioneer Woman Cooks.” I immediately wanted to fry up the whole book and eat it, but because almost every recipe is fried I thought it would be best to ration them out.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I wanted to make something special for John because he let us stay at his comfortable home and made us breakfast every morning. After drooling over every recipe in the book, we finally decided on a perfect Fourth of July feast, Top Sirloin Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce* – Delish.

* The book calls for rib-eye but I substituted sirloin

Top Sirloin Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce 

Serves 2-3

3 Tablespoons butter (divided)

3 Tablespoons diced onion

1/4 cup whiskey (or more for the chef)

1/4 cup beef stock/broth

1/4 cup heavy cream



2 Sirloin steaks


For the Sauce 

1) Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat (or an open fire). After the butter is melted, add the onion and cook till brown.

2) When the onion is brown remove from heat and add the whiskey. It’s important to remove from heat or your kitchen/yourself could catch fire.

3) When the whiskey evaporates, return pan to heat and add the beef stock/broth, salt and pepper.

4) Whisk in another tablespoon of butter and allow the sauce to bubble.

5) Reduce heat to low and add the cream. Simmer on low heat while you prepare steaks and sides.

For the Steaks 

1) Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Let set for 20-30 minutes. If you are serving corn, throw them on outer sides of the grill.

2) Grill steaks to the desired temperature, flipping over to cook the other side. Turn corn frequently until all sides have dark brown/black grill marks.

3) Remove from heat, add whiskey cream sauce and enjoy with corn on the cob and a glass of red wine.