Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cranberry Apple Pork Loin Roast with Sour Cream Sauce

Cranberry Apple Pork Loin Roast with Sour Cream Sauce

1 (3 To 4 Lb) Boneless Pork Loin Roast
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Can Whole Cranberry Sauce
1/4 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Apple Juice
2 Apples, Cored, Peeled And Coarsely Chopped
Salt And Pepper To Taste
1 Coup Sour Cream 

Place roast in slow cooker; rub all over with the minced garlic. 

Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. 

Pork should be about 160° when fully cooked.

Remove roast from crock pot and cover with foil.  

Mash the apples in the sauce with a hand masher or the back of a fork.

Remove a cup of sauce from the crockpot.  Allow to cool then mix in sour cream.  The mix the sour cream mixture in with the rest of the sauce.

Slice the roast and spoon sauce over slices.  Delish with rice.

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Yeah? Just try it . . .

Hubby came across this news article the other day. 

The funny thing . . . not that the article is funny because spousal abuse is  seriously horrible and wrong . . . 

 . . . but the funny thing about this article is that every work day I get up two hours earlier than I need to (at 5-friggin-o'clock in the morning) just so that I that I can make him a nice fresh cup of coffee made with fresh ground coffee beans, natural raw sugar and relatively farm fresh cream.    And then . . . after a feed the cat because she's a whiny freaking thing if she doesn't get her breakfast . . . I make him a nice healthy lunch to get him through his long, hard manually labor intensive day.

Soooooo . . . 

After he read the article to me he warned me . . . "Let that be a lesson to you."

Really??  Oh dude . . . you just try it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I love spinach artichoke dip . . . so, when I came across a recipe that emulates I had to try it.  I tweaked the recipe a little bit and it turned out fantastic.  This recipe is fast and easy . . . it makes a great side dish or a light main dish.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

1 12-Oz Box Pasta 
1 Tsp Butter
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 8 Oz Package Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Lemon, Juiced
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 14 Oz Can Artichoke Hearts
10 Oz Chopped, Frozen Spinach
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Use a pasta that holds in all that saucy goodness.

Drain and chop the artichoke hearts.  Thaw the spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, and Parmesan cheese.

Drain pasta and add to artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Don’t be afraid of the dark

When I was a kid I was deathly afraid of the dark.  I was so fearful that I would stay in bed, buried under my covers and not move all night long.  My mother didn't coddle me by allowing a night light and we lived on the top of a mountain so there were no street lights.  The only light was the pale moonlight which only served to create vague and ominous shadows that only spurred my fear should I venture a peek. 

So afraid was I that I would be covered from head to toe even on the hottest nights . . . no air conditioning either . . . and I would be dripping with sweat and still be to frightened to move.  So terrified was I that I wouldn't even get out of bed to go to the bathroom no matter how urgent or painful the situation became . . . to the point of bed wetting on occasion.

Yes, I was that terrified.

I've since overcome that phobia . . . though I sometimes feel a twinge of that old fear.

Halloween is coming so I felt the urge to watch a horror flick.  Ironically, I chose “Don’t beafraid of the dark”.  Not the best or scariest movie but it hit the mark on one of the things that I was so afraid of as a child.

Basically, the movie revolves around little troll-like creatures that terrorize a poor little girl.

When I was in bed, covered with blankets a cardinal rule was never ever allow any appendage or body part to stray from the bed . . . not an arm, not a leg, not even a toe. Lest some evil creature lurking under my bed reach up and grab me.

It was an unfounded fear but gripping and unrelenting nonetheless.

I don’t know how or why I developed this complete dread of darkness.  I couldn't pinpoint any specific moment or event that would cause such fear.  But it was very very real and I knew deep down and with great conviction that there was something lurking in the darkness that would maul me, shred me, consume me.

After watching that movie . . . which I thought had no real impact on me other than mild amusement . . . we went to bed.   At some point in the middle of the night I had to go potty . . . so I hopped up and went.  No fear, no stray thoughts of creatures lying in wait.  Coming back from the bathroom, however, as I was passing the end of the bed to get to my side I got the strangest feeling that some creature with sharp claws and razor teeth would lunge at me from beneath the bed and get me.  I shrugged it off, of course, because I’m all grown up and I know there are there are no such things.  But I did shorten the trip slightly but climbing onto the end of the bed . . . instead of walking all the way around . . .  and crawling back under the covers.  I didn’t lay awake or even contemplate my sudden irrational fear . . . I fell right back to sleep

What can I say?  Irrational fear is exactly that . . . if it made sense then it wouldn't be irrational now would it?

Chicken Alfredo with Tortellini

Chicken Alfredo with Tortellini

6 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves - Cut Into Cubes
6 Tablespoons Butter, Divided
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced, Divided
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 Pound Cheese Tortellini
1 Onion, Diced
1 (8 Ounce) Package Sliced Mushrooms (Optional)
1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
3 Cups Milk
1 Cup Half-And-Half
3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
8 Ounces Shredded Colby-Monterey Jack Cheese
3  Plum Tomatoes, Diced
1/2 Cup Sour Cream

In a large skillet over medium heat combine chicken, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Saute onion, 2 cloves garlic, and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until smooth and creamy. 

Stir in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses; stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture, tomatoes and sour cream. 

Combine tortellini with sauce and serve immediately.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tuna Egg Green Olive Sandwich

This takes regular ol' tuna sandwiches to a whole new level of yumminess.  Tuna, egg and green olives make for a filling, hearty sandwich worthy of any lunch!

Tuna Egg Green Olive Sandwich

1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Chopped Green Olives
4 slices whole wheat bread or two pitas

In a medium bowl, shred the tuna with a fork.   Stir in eggs, celery, olives and mayonnaise. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Place half of the mixture onto 1 slice of bread and the other half on another slice of bread (or fill two pita pockets). Top with remaining slices of bread.  

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Zucchini Pickles

My hubby loves pickles.  This season I had a bumper crop of cucumbers and I tried several different methods . . . natural fermentation, beer pickles, refrigerator pickles, kosher dills, garlic dills, etc.

I also had an amazing crop of zucchini.  I wanted to preserve some using a method other than drying or freezing them.

Zucchini takes on the flavors of seasoning very well, so I thought to myself, why not try making zucchini pickles.  I made a small batch to see if they would get hubby's approval.  They've been sitting a couple months and I finally busted into a jar and put them in with his lunch without any warning about what he was getting . . . he gets pickles everyday so he was expecting to have them.

Lunch passed with no comment from him so I asked.  He said he didn't notice a difference . . . they tasted like pickles.

Zucchini pickles passed muster!  And zucchini are so easy to grow that I'm thinking they'll be a suitable pickle substitute should a cucumber crop be less than expected.

I made them using my standard dill pickle recipe using a "low temperature process" method . . . the jars stay in the water bath at a lower temperature for a longer time which is supposed to keep the pickles crunchier.

Make sure you use fresh, crisp zucchini.  Don’t can soft or overripe vegetables or you will end up with soft, limp pickles.   Small, firm fruit with dark skin are better than the gigantic zucchini that are preferable for stuffing.

You’ll need a Quick Process Pickling mix . . .  I use Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill  . . . and clear vinegar.

I generally can pickles in pint jars . . . I prefer wide mouth, but that’s up to you.

Wash the zucchini in cold water.  Then cut them into spears.  Makes sure the pickles are a length that leaves at least a half an inch of head space in the jar.

Before you pack the jars you will need to make sure the jars are clean and sanitized.  If you’re dishwasher has a high temperature wash then that is sufficient.  If not submerge the jars in a large pot of water . . . I use my canning pot . . .  and bring it to a boil.  Put the lids in another pot and boil them for several minutes and leave them in the hot water.

Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on).

Follow the directions on the pickle mix . . . basically combine the mix with vinegar (and water if the recipe calls for it).  Bring to a near boil.

Add the zucchini spears and simmer for 3 minutes.  Then pack the zucchini into the jars and pour the simmering pickle mix liquid over them. Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, seat the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them.   You can add a clove of garlic and a sliced jalapeno for extra spice.

The zucchini tend to float in the liquid that's why it's important not to over fill the jars.  Make sure you wipe the lip of the jar and push them down and seal with the ring.

Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling until you are ready to process. Then, here's the key to crisp pickles: pickles should be processed for at 180-185°F, which is obviously below boiling (212 F), but hot enough to kill bacteria.

Check with a thermometer to be certain that the water temperature remains above 180° during the entire processing time. But keep the temperature below 185° to avoid breaking down the pectin.

Process them for 30 minutes.

Then carefully remove the jars from the water and allow them to cool in a draft-free area.  I know it’s tempting but don’t touch the jars while they’re cooling and try not to bump or jostle them.  Just let them sit quietly.

After 24 hours you can remove the rings and make sure your jars have sealed.  But any jars where the lid hasn’t sucked down into the fridge and eat them first.  You can check by pressing your finger into the center of the lid . . . if it pops then it’s not properly sealed.

You can eat the pickles anytime but they’re better if you wait at least 2 weeks.  It’s torture but it’s worth it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Birds are really freaking stupid.  It's no wonder they've been pigeonholed as bird-brains!

It has happened to me on more than one occasion that I could have killed a bird with two stones . . . figuratevily of course.  Meaning that I've been driving and a bird will be in front of me . . . walking on the ground and instead of flying to get away from me it will run like crazy on it's twiggy little wings.

Uh . . . hello?? Wings? Fly?  Get away.

Bacon Infused Bourbon Old-Fashioned

I made this cocktail with my homemade bacon infused bourbon.

It's a little salty, a little smoky, a little sweet . . . interesting and complex.  Delish!

Bacon Infused Bourbon Old Fashioned 

2 Oz. Bacon Infused Bourbon
1 or 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1/4 Ounce Real Maple Syrup
Orange Peel for Garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add bourbon, bitters, and maple syrup.

Give it a few good shakes.Twist the orange peel over the cocktail and then drop it in.


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Pilsner Urquell

I typically shun beer in green bottles.  Why?  Because, from my experience, they tend to be skunky tasting.

When hubby asked my to pick up a sixer of Pilsner Urquell, I was happy to do it.  

When I got to the beer store there was a Heineken promotion.  So the lovely blonde beer girl was passing out samples of icy cold Heiny and when she offered me a tastes I was like, "No thanks, I don't drink beer that comes in green bottles."

Little did I know that Pilsner Urquell comes in evil green bottles.  I couldn't tell at the store because the bottles were packed up in boxes.  I got a cold pack at the store and when I busted into them at home I was like, "Ugh, green bottles."

Since this was the designated beer for the evening I sucked it up and went for it.

I popped open a bottle;  the smell was exactly what I anticipated and it didn't bode well.  Skunk.

Let me put my commentary on hold for a moment and tell you a little bit about Pilsner Urquell.  It is the very first pilsner every made.  It was first brewed in 1842 in Plzen, Czechoslovakia; which is where it gets it's name.  All other beers of this style take their name from Plzeňský Prazdroj . . . or Pilsner Urquell.  However, Pilsner Urquell is hoppier than most pilsners . . . which gives it bonus points in my book. 

Now, back to the beer. Once I got past the smell, I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and I quickly sucked back three of them.  Don't get your knickers in a twist, Pilsner Urquell comes in at a very sessionable 4.4% ABV . . . so it's a nice light drinkable beer.  And it won't knock you on your butt.  It does have a little tiny bit of that green bottle taste but the overall flavor is a good tasty pilsner with a bitter edge.  I surprised myself by liking it.

Happy 170th Birthday Pilsner Urquell.  Cheers to the first Pilsner ever!   Good job with that!

Oh, and the topper on the cake?  I got a special badge from Untappd for knocking back three of these bad boy!

Visit the Pilsner Urquell website or check them out on Facebook.

New Brew Thursday - Founder's Brewing Cerise

I like a good fruit beer.  To me that means a good flavorful beer that is enhanced . . . but not overwhelmed . . . by the addition of fruit.  I want to taste the beer not a mouthful of beer flavored fruit.

I selected Founder's Cerise because the bottle looked interesting and the name was enticing . . . it's all very classy.

Cerise is an ale that is fermented with cherries.  One of my favorite fruits is the dark red bing cherries that are so abundant in the summer months.  So, it was a no brainer to try this one.  I hate those sickly sweet maraschino cherries and my only fear is that Cerise would emulate the flavor of those nasty little things.

It pours a gorgeous ruby red . . . much like fresh cherry juice . . . with a head that starts out high but quickly settles into a lingering pink foam around the edge of the glass. It smells as much like cherries as it looks . . . fresh and inviting . . . with yeasty undertones.

The taste . . . from the nose I was expecting a sticky lambic.  That's not what I got.  I tasted tart cherry, malt and a surprising earthiness I'd attribute to the hops.  There was a kind of a medicinal taste to the finish . . . I'm don't know how I feel about that.  I'm  not sure if it was due to the alcohol, the way the hops interact with the cherry or something else.  It wasn't entirely bad but a little distracting.  I liked the effervescent mouthfeel which enhances the drinkability.  I also like that it's not sweet.  You can taste the cherries but you also get the hoppy bitterness of the beer.

Cerise different from any other beer of this style I've had.  I think if you like cherries you'll appreciate this brew.  Overall, it makes for a refreshing summer beer that's worth a try.   

(6.5% ABV)

For more information about their beers visit Founder's website or check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I have a ninkling

What exactly is an inkling anyway?  A baby squid? I'd need an aquarium if I had one of those . . . eventually, a pretty big one.

But an inkling is not a baby squid . . . so what is it?

A very small pen?  Uhm . . . no.

In its current usage, an inkling is a vague feeling or idea about something . . . that much is generally known . . . .  but the origins of the word is something else altogether.

In days of yore . . . in a long long yore ago during the times of the Crusades and the Mongol hordes . . . you didn't have an inkling you had a ninkling.  

Much like a tinkle is a tiny bell like sound, a ninkling was not something you had but something your heard.  A ninkle was like if you overheard a bit of a conversation and thought you heard your name mentioned.  This ninkling would pique your curiosity and might want to learn more about what was being said . . . about you.

A few hundred years later the 'n' was dropped from the word and at that point you would have an inkling instead of a ninkling.  And then at some point further on in time an inkling became something you had . . . like a baby squid or a tiny pen . . . instead of something you heard.  And you wouldn't have heard it in the first place if you hadn't been eaves dropping . . . which is quite rude, by the way.  Just sayin'.

So, there it is.  

Oven-Roasted Fresh Beets

Beets are easy to grow and very nutritious.  The best part is that you can eat both the greens and the root.  The greens are delicious sauteed with garlic in olive oil or in a salad.

Oven-Roasted Fresh Beets

Fresh whole beets 
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place rack in middle of oven.

Wash and scrub the whole beets to clean off any dirt. Leave the beet whole unless you have some extra large ones (if extra large, cut in half). Trim off the stems (leafy tops) and ends of the beets.

On a large baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil. Place beets on the baking sheetin a single layer.Toss lightly with some olive oil to coat the beets. Place another large sheet of aluminum foil on top of the beets and crunch up the sides of the aluminum foil together to seal.

Roast in the oven for about 1 to 2 hours (depending on the size of your beets) or until tender.

Remove from oven and take off the top foil. Set aside to cool enough to handle. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off - you should be able to do this by hand.

Serve them as they are with salt or with feta cheese or however else you want to use them.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mustard Breaded Pork Chops

Mustard Breaded Pork Chops

3/4 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Spicy Brown Mustard
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Pork Chops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a baking pan by coating with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray.

Combine bread crumbs, salt, paprika and pepper in shallow dish; set aside. Combine egg and mustard in another shallow dish.

Dip each pork chop in mustard mixture, coating all sides. Cover with crumb mixture and place on baking pan.

Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

What ya gonna do with all that junk?

I can't stand advertisements for clothing that supposedly miraculously slim you.  

Why? The women in these ads are skinny. Am I really supposed to believe that the properties of this clothing is so effective that when these women take their clothing off that they they are somehow frumpy blobs of gelatinous flab and cellulite.  

Really??  Unlikely.

I wish I was as "fat" as most of the chicks in these ads.  

Most of these undergarments use spandex and bands for compression . . . these layers add bulk.

Besides, fat is mass.  If you squish it, flatten it or otherwise displace it  . . . it has to go somewhere . . . up, out, wherever.

Sure, you can disguise or compress a small amount of blubber but a big butt is a big butt, thunder thighs are thunderous and belly bulge is just that.

Frankly speaking, the only way to truly look slim is to be thin.  

Speaking of which, I really need to haul my trunk to the gym and ditch some of the junk.

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas

This is a easy meal to throw together in the morning.  You'll have a tasty dinner to come home to at the end of the day!

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas

1 Yellow Onion, Sliced
3 Sweet Peppers, Sliced
1 ½ Pounds Boneless Chicken Breast
½ Cup Chicken Broth
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Cumin
1 ½ Tablespoons Chili Powder
Squirt Of Lime Juice
Fajita Fixings

Combine sliced onion and peppers in the bottom of a greased or lined crockpot. Lay chicken on top of veggies. Pour chicken broth over top. Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder. Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon on tortillas with your choice of fixings.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oooey Gooey Sweet Buns

Oooey Gooey Sweet Buns

1/4 Cup Melted Butter
8 Marshmallows
1 Package Crescent Rolls
1/4 Cup Granulated White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Mix well to thoroughly blend the two together.  

Roll the marshmallows in the melted butter.

Then roll marshmallows in the cinnamon and sugar.

Wrap the marshmallow in crescent rolls and pinch edges closed.

Bake the rolls for 12 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hot Pickled Green Beans

Pickling is an easy way to preserve your garden vegetables.  

I got loads of green beans and hot peppers from my garden this year and wanted to do something different with them . . . so I decided to put them both together in a jar and pickle them.

This is an easy recipe for pickling green beans with a kick.  It will make 10 pints of hot pickled green beans!  

Hot Pickled Green Beans

4 Pounds Green Beans
10 12 Ounce Canning Jars With Rings and New Lids
10 T Garlic, Peeled and Minced
10 Small Fresh Hot Cherry Peppers or Jalapenos 
Pickling Brine 

Pickling Brine: 
6 Cups Water
4 1/2 Cups Cider Vinegar
6 Tablespoons Pickling Salt

Start by sterilizing the jars and lids. Bring the water to a boil to sterilize the jars while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.  Boil the jars at least 5 minutes. Add the lids to a smaller pan of water and bring to a to boil.  Turn down to a simmer once the water has come to a boil. 

Make the pickling brine by mixing all ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Keep at a simmer until ready to use.

Wash the green beans and peppers.  Snap the ends off the green beans.  You can leave the little "tail" on the other end of the green beans.

Trim the beans so that they fit in your jar. If you have very long beans, like I do, you may have to cut them in half.  Pack them in tight to minimize air space.

Add 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon peppercorns to each jar and top with a pepper.  If it’s a small pepper use the whole pepper.

Fill each jar with hot pickling brine, leaving 1/2 inch of head space.

Use a plastic knife to remove air bubbles from jar by running it around the interior of the jar. Wipe the rims and apply the lids and rings.

Place the jars of beans into the canning pot.  Make sure the jars are covered with at least an inch of water.  Bring the water to a full boil.  Process the beans for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Remove the jars from the pot and let them sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours.  At which time you may remove the rings and store them.

Test to make sure the jars are sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid.  If isn't sucked down then put the jar in the fridge and use as soon as possible. 

Let the beans sit for at least two weeks before eating, to thoroughly develop their flavor.

Chill before using for maximum crunch.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Firewater Friday - Mixin' Crispin

This time of year there's nothing quite like sluggin' back a yummy cider; especially a good hard cider.   

So, when hubby and I were out the other night at our favorite pub for our weekly date night and I saw their special board I was excited to see Crispin Hard Cider.  

All by itself Crispin is good . . . we had their original (5% ABV).  It's definitely crisp tasting, a little dry, a little sweet.  Yum.  

But we decided to take it to a whole other level . . . add a shot of something to it.

I thought a caramel liquor would be good but they didn't have it behind the bar.  So, we opted to try the cider with Buttershots butterscotch liquor instead.   

I poured the shot into a pint glass and then poured the cider over top.

Oh my!  Delicious.  The butterscotch flavor didn't overwhelm the apple but added a rich and creamy taste that was oh so good!

And then, in a burst of sudden inspiration, I decided to try one with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky!  Great balls of fire!  It was like drinking apple pie (without the crust)!!  Yes!  This concoction is a keeper!  Lip smacking awesomeness!