Easy Chocolate Yule Log. Rocking Out With The Yule Logs.

Easy Chocolate Yule Log

No, I don’t really hate it. It’s just the amount of work required to pull off a Happy Christmas for everyone is always overwhelming. I’m the Elf-In-Chief (and a freaking type A perfectionist) so I feel especially overwhelmed every single year.

I know, I know….just relax and enjoy the spirit of the season. I get it.

That’s why I have increasingly streamlined some of the traditional recipe favorites. I can still spend lots of time singing in my kitchen, but also have time to tackle the other tasks that need doing.

We always have a Yule Log for dessert on Christmas Eve. Today’s recipe is one of the easiest ones out there. It uses packaged brownie mix and canned icing. The whipped cream filling takes hardly anytime at all.

The cream filling is flecked with chocolate and is a lovely, light contrast to the dense brownie. Festive and special. No hate here at all!

Easy Chocolate Yule Log
Easy Chocolate Yule Log


1 box brownie mix and the ingredients called for on the box
4 eggs, beaten (This increased the amount of eggs for my brownie mix by 2)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Cream Filling (recipe follows)
1 container chocolate icing
Confectioners’ sugar or holly, for decoration (I used rosemary sprigs and maraschino cherries)


1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper.

2. Combine eggs and brownie mix and prepare brownie mix according to package instructions.

3. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

4. Remove from oven and turn out immediately onto a tea towel that has been generously sprinkled with 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar. Remove parchment paper and, beginning at the narrow end, roll up the cake and the tea towel together. Allow to cool.

5. Unroll the cake when cool and spread the cream filling. Re-roll without the towel.

6. Cut a thick diagonal slice off one end of the cake. Transfer the larger piece of cake to a flat serving plate. Spread a little icing over cut side of the small piece of cake and fix it to the large roll to make a stump. (I was in a rush, so I left my log as a plain old log!)

7. Frost the entire cake with the chocolate icing. Run a fork along the icing so it resembles tree bark.

8. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and decorate with holly.

Serves 8

Cream Filling


3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbs water
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 Tbs confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla


1. Whip cream until soft peaks form.

2. Stir confectioners’ sugar and vanilla into the whipped cream.

3. Melt chocolate and let cool for 10 minutes.

4. Stir the chocolate into the whipped cream. The warm chocolate forms crisp bits in the cold cream which is absolutely delicious. If you want a smoother chocolate cream filling, allow the chocolate to cool completely before adding to the whipped cream.

Recipes from Yum Food & Fun Magazine
Easy Chocolate Yule Log
Easy Chocolate Yule Log
Easy Chocolate Yule Log

Sure, I shared a recipe for a Yule Log today. But it is, after all, Hanukkah.

A very good reason then to rock out to ‘Latke Man’.

Check out The Yule Logs on the band’s Website, where you can learn of upcoming shows in Chico, CA and buy their music.

Bah Humbug!

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Man Cave Nachos. Nick Cave On The Stereo.

Man Cave Nachos


The occupants of the man cave would not approve of that cartoon.

However…Man Cave Nachos…

Whoa! Very high approval rating.

These Man Cave Nachos are the ultimate in snack decadence.

Think poutine crashes into nachos. Fries, little franks and jalapeños are piled high and smothered in a creamy, cheesy sauce laced with Guinness stout.

Make a big batch for the man caver in your life or to dig into while watching the big game on TV. You’ll definitely get high scores.

Man Cave Nachos
Man Cave Nachos


1 (2 lb) bag frozen fries
1 (14oz) bag of Lit’l Smokies sausages or Lit’l Beef Franks
Sliced jalapeños, fresh or from a jar
Guinness Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)


1. Slice each little frank in half lengthwise.

2. Spread the fries and franks evenly on a baking sheet. Top with jalapeños.

3. Bake at 350℉ for about 30 minutes or until the franks and fries are golden.

4. Spoon Guinness sauce over the “Nachos” and serve warm.

Guinness Cheese Sauce


2 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs flour
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup Guinness beer
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste
12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

2. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

3. Slowly whisk in the milk and beer. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.

4. Add the mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Add the cheese, a small amount at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. (This will ensure a smooth sauce.) Season with salt and pepper.

Recipes from Oh Bite It!
Man Cave Nachos
Man Cave Nachos

Man caves are cool, but my favorite Cave would, hands down, be Nick.

‘Give Us A Kiss’ was released in September to coincide with the premiere of Nick Cave’s documentary “20,000 Days On Earth”.

It’s musical perfection as only Mr. Cave can deliver.

“You’re still hanging out in my dreams,
in your sister’s shoes and your blue jeans.
Ah give us a kiss.”

Check out Nick Cave on his Website, where you can learn of upcoming world tour dates and buy the music.


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Ramen Cheeseburgers. New Music From Yoofs.

Ramen Cheeseburger

I somehow missed the Ramen Cheeseburger craze. I guess it was right up there with the Cronut in 2013.

Better late than never, as they say.

These Ramen Cheeseburgers are just plain crazy.

Crazy good.

Crazy fun.

Ramen noodles are molded into “buns” then briefly pan fried until they are crisp outside, but still soft enough not to break up when you bite into them. The noodle buns are then filled with cheeseburgers that use the ramen spice packet for flavoring (what a great idea!) a sriracha mayo and some lettuce and tomato.

Very impressive and very delicious. My husband thought the burgers would work just as well as an open faced sandwich using just one ramen bun on the bottom. Then you could dig in with a knife and fork. Either way, I say this is a winner of a recipe.

Ramen Cheeseburger
Ramen Cheeseburgers


2 (3 ounce) packages instant ramen noodles (reserve flavor packets)
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 slices American cheese
2 slices tomato
2 leaves butter lettuce


1. Line 4 (four-inch) ramekins with plastic wrap, leaving 4 inches of overhang.

2. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water, according to the package directions. Drain; rinse noodles under cold water.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add the noodles and toss to coat.

4. Divide noodle mixture among the ramekins. Fold the plastic over the noodles and press to compact. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

5. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sriracha and sesame oil.

6. In another bowl, combine the beef and the flavor packet. Form the beef into 2 (four-inch) patties.

7. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high. Add the beef patties and cook, turning once, about 8 minutes for medium. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with a slice of cheese and cover until the cheese melts.

8. Transfer the patties to a plate. Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable oil and heat over medium-high. Unwrap the ramen buns and cook, turning once, until browned and crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

9. Build burgers using ramen “buns”, cheeseburgers, tomatoes, lettuce and sriracha mayo.

Serves 2 (doubles easily)

Recipe from Every Day With Rachael Ray Magazine
Ramen Cheeseburger
Ramen Cheeseburger

Here’s some new psychedelic-style pop from London area duo Yoofs. It has got a little guitar solo at the end worthy of a lighter in the air.

Check out Yoofs on Facebook. They are offering most of their songs as free downloads on Soundcloud. You can buy ‘Can’t Think’ here.


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Short And Sweet. Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper.

Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper

Q: Why did the bees go on strike?
A: Because they wanted more honey and shorter working flowers.

Q: How do bees get to school?
A: By school buzz

Q: What kind of bees give milk?
A: Boobees.

Dessert hardly gets easier than these rustic, but also elegant, Plum Tarts.

I was intrigued by the honey/black pepper combination with the fruit. The flavor of the plums is heightened by the dusting of salt and pepper while the honey adds the perfect note of sweetness.
Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper
Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (one 14-oz package or half of 17.3-oz package), thawed according to package directions
1 pound red plums cut into ½ inch wedges
¼ cup sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
Flaky sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Cut pastry into six 4 inch squares. Place squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.

3. Top pastry with plums, leaving a ½ inch border. Sprinkle with sugar and season with a few grinds of pepper.

4. Bake tarts, rotating pan halfway through, until edges of pastry are puffed and golden brown, 25–30 minutes.

5. Drizzle tarts with honey and sprinkle with salt just before serving. (The tarts can be baked 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.)

Serves 6

Recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine
Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper
Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper
Plum Tarts With Honey And Black Pepper
Short song time.

And a sweet song.

Check out Manfred Kidd on Facebook. You can buy their music here.

Learn more about Dreams In Static on the band’s Website, where you can buy their music.


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Spicy Chicken Rigatoni (Buca di Beppo Copycat). New Music From Geoff Ong.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

So apparently there is an American chain restaurant that has been around since 1993 called Bucca di Beppo. There are about 90 of these family-style, Italian food places around the country.

Never heard of it.

That is until I spotted a delicious looking photo of Spicy Chicken Rigatoni here, which Ashley recreated from the Buca di Beppo menu.

I don’t know what the dish is like in the restaurant, but this Spicy Chicken Rigatoni recipe is sublime. Spicy, yes, but also creamy, garlicky and rich. I love the look of the peas studding the plate.

The recipe uses the fantastic Alfredo Sauce that I shared yesterday. It is so good and easy that you definitely don’t want to use the purchased stuff.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
Spicy Chicken Rigatoni


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbs crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups Alfredo sauce (recipe here)
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup peas
1 lb rigatoni pasta cooked according to package directions
Parmesan cheese and additional crushed red pepper, for garnish


1. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add sliced chicken and sauté briefly until almost cooked through.

2. Add marinara sauce first and then Alfredo sauce and bring to a simmer. (It is important to add the marinara first to help keep the Alfredo sauce from separating). Cook until sauce thickens slightly and chicken is cooked through.

3. Turn off heat. Add butter and peas and incorporate into sauce.

4. Toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Recipe from Center Cut Cook
Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
I headed over to Soundcloud to check out Geoff Ong’s latest single “The Last Song I’ll Ever Write About You”. As is typical of me, I got completely distracted by his other tunes with unusual names such as “Well, This Is Awkward” and “Between You, Me And The Irony”.

All good and fun.

And the new, more soulful one.

Check out Geoff Ong on his Website. You can buy the music here.


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Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce. Sweet New Music From Johnnie Lee Jordan.

Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce

This is the best Alfredo sauce I have ever had.

Cream cheese gives the sauce a silky thickness and there is just the right balance of garlic, butter and Parmesan. I could have poured the sauce in a bowl and eaten it like it was soup. (Maybe next time).

Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce
Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce


1/2 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1. In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat.

2. Add cream cheese and stir until cream cheese has melted.

3. Slowly poor in half and half and whisk vigorously for a few minutes.

4. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until incorporated. Stir in garlic and black pepper. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for a few minutes to thicken up.

5. Combine with your favorite pasta and serve. (I used rigatoni here).

Recipe from Center Cut Cook
Simple Creamy Alfredo Sauce

I liked this song even before I heard it.

Firstly, it’s titled Candy Mountain. That’s pretty sweet.

Second, on his Soundcloud page is this:

“Johnnie Lee Jordan’s real name is Johnnie Lee Jordan. He sometimes feels self conscious about using three names. Everybody always tells him “Do it!” or “Oh man you’ve got to keep the Lee!” Yet, daily he mulls the name change over in his already busy mind.”

I love these kind of personal struggles.

As it turned out, the song is great.

Check out Johnnie Lee Jordan on Facebook, where you can keep tuned to find out where to get his album ‘Run’ due out in February 2015.


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Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie. Fun New Music From Beach Youth.

Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie

Brandy and caramel are what elevate this apple pie to superstar status. And a delectable walnut crumb topping…that helps, too! The tart Granny Smiths perfectly balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.

Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie
Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie


1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups prepared dulce de leche sauce or caramel sauce
3 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

3. In a large bowl, toss apples with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour and the cinnamon.

4. In a small saucepan, heat dulce de leche sauce over medium heat until warm. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup to apple mixture and toss gently to coat. Stir brandy into remaining sauce and reserve for topping pie.

5. Spoon apple mixture into prepared pie crust.

6. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup flour with the brown sugar. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut butter into flour mixture until crumbly. Add walnuts and toss to combine.

7. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over apples, pressing to adhere.

8. Place pie plate on prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer or until browned and bubbly. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

9. Serve pie with reserved brandied sauce mixture.

Recipe from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Magazine
Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie
Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie
Brandied Caramel-Apple Pie

Here’s some jangly guitar that is as sweet as caramel.

Check out Beach Youth on Facebook. You can buy ‘Days’ here.


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