So my friend Jamieanne of The Sweetest Kitchen has started the Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge. This month the secret "ingredient" is a childhood memory! My sister Heather called me to see if I had thought of entering this month. I have never entered before, and I wasn't sure what I would do. We started talking about childhood memories and the one that always sticks in my head is going to Great Grandma's house for lunch and eating her "famous" pickles and hamburgers with garden-fresh tomatoes! So, after much debate as to whether or not I should put my idea "into the oven" I decided to go against the norm and create a savory cupcake that only a Great Grandmother could love! :)

Maybe I should let you in on a little secret about Grandma's pickles, they may be the easiest pickles ever made, but she made them taste like gold! The last 2 summers I grew a garden just so I could try out her recipe. Surprisingly, the pickles taste pretty similar to what I remember. I wanted to make a jar for each of my family members for Christmas, but unfortunately I've only had enough cucumbers to fill about 10 jars (if I can't share them with EVERYONE I guess I am going to have to eat them all by myself). Anyway, about Grandma's pickles, she packed cucumbers, a head of dill or 1 Tbsp or dill seed in a jar with a clove of garlic and a dried red chile pepper, made her brine of salt, vinegar and water, poured it into the jars, sealed them and VOILA! 6 weeks later we had the BEST PICKLES EVER! Her pickles had just the right amount of garlic, heat and dill due to her "secret" ingredients! I knew I had to use these three things in my cupcake!

I am and always have been a HUGE fan of dill pickles (huge may be an understatement) but the idea of a pickle cupcake just sounded weird, even to me! I set out on a search to find a recipe I could adapt to fit my memory. I found so many savory cupcakes that pickle cupcakes started to sound more normal than any of the rest! I came across a Salmon Cupcake, a Guacamole Cupcake, a Catfish and Grits Cupcake and also a Pregnant cupcake among many other strange creations. I decided to modify the pickle cake in this recipe to make it more like my Great Grandmother's pickles. I added part of a dried red pepper (that I crushed), I used the pickles and pickle juice from one of the jars I made this summer from my Great Grandma's recipe, i used garlic salt and garlic powder and dill seed, too.

Several ideas crossed my mind for the "icing" of my cupcake, I thought about chocolate syrup (because Grandma always had a can of Hershey's syrup in her refrigerator that we would occasionally drink from) and ice cream, but after finding the recipe for the Pickles and Ice Cream Cupcake, I decided that had already been done so I would find something else. Great Grandma's hamburger recipe was never written down, but her hamburgers were so yummy! That's when I decided to create "Grandma's Pickle-burger Cupcake". A Pickle cake "bun" with a mini-cheeseburger, pickle, tomato and mustard (the way we always ate them at Grandma's)! Great Grandma's house was the best, we spent a lot of time there as kids and pickles, hamburgers and fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes are three things I will never forget!

Here is my creation!
"Grandma's Pickle-Burger Cupcake"

**I have to say, I DID try it! It wasn't nearly as weird-tasting as it sounded. The cake barely had a pickle flavor at all, it was smillar to a spiced cornbread but without the cornmeal texture (if that makes any sense). Eaten as a cupcake sandwich, it tasted just about like any other cheeseburger would.**

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So I received my first official order in June - I was so excited! I sold my first Memor-ME game to a facebook friend of mine, Trish! She purchased the game for a friend's 2 year old and she received it in the mail today. This is what she had to say: "Omigosh! I just received my Memor-Me game and it is the cutest thing ever! I know the birthday girl will LOVE it, as will her parents :) Wonderful quality and absolutely beautiful work - thanks again Angela! I will definitely be ordering again!"
Thanks Trish! Can't wait to work with you again!
So I was fortunate enough to photograph a wedding this past weekend (7.10.10). It was a beautiful day, a beautiful couple and a beautiful location! My sister came with me to keep me in line - clipboard AND camera in hand! I did let her have a little fun, though, she got to use her new camera for the first time at a wedding! We both got some great shots!!! Overall we took WAY too many pictures, I won't even tell you the total, that's a story for another day! haha

Laz and Tyra (the newlyweds) are friends of ours. Jarad (my husband) has known Laz since high school... and yadda, yadda, yadda...I don't want to hear the whole story, you want to see some pictures!! You can view several of my wedding day favorites on my facebook page but here is a glimpse of their special day!
This might be my very favorite pasta dish these days! It is SOOOO delicious! It can be a little bit time-consuming, but it is DEFINITELY worth it! Enjoy!

3 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices bacon
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
A few dashes of hot sauce
4-5 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup fresh basil (about a handful), chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (about a handful), chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil.

Scatter the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons EVOO and some salt and pepper. Toss lightly to coat and roast the tomatoes in the hot oven until they burst open and are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Place the bacon on a broiler pan and transfer to the oven along with the tomatoes. Cook until crispy, about 15 minutes.

While the tomatoes and bacon are in the oven, drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook to al dente, according to package directions. When the pasta is ready, reserve a large mug of the starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot it was cooked in.

While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large skillet with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon, then add the chicken and sauté until golden brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl and squeeze the juice of the lemon over it, tossing to coat.

When the chicken is finished cooking, add the garlic to the pan, cook for 1 minute, then sprinkle in a few dashes of hot sauce and toss to coat.

In a large serving bowl, mash the cooked tomatoes together with the scallions, then add the reserved pasta water and pasta.

Top the pasta and tomatoes with the chicken, then crumble the cooked bacon over it and toss with the avocado, blue cheese, basil and parsley.

compliments of Rachael Ray

This is another one of my own recipes - kind of a spin off of my Italian Stuffed chicken, only I used mexican ingredients instead! Very, very good and pretty spicy too! I hope you like spicy food! :) This one might make your nose run!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded colby/monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped jalapenos (from jar)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
2 eggs
flour for dredging

Preheat oven to 400
Cut the chicken breasts so that you can open them like a book (being careful not to cut them all the way through). Then, between waxed paper or plastic wrap or large plastic baggie pound with a meat mallet or large skillet until flat and even all over.

Mix together shredded cheese, jalapenos and half of the cilantro. Place 1/4 of mixture in each of the 4 chicken breasts and fold chicken over to close.

Next, set up 3 flat dishes or pie plates. In your first dish put enough flour for dredging the chicken (if you dont get enough the first time you can always add more). In the second dish beat 2 eggs with a splash of water. In the third dish mix together crushed tortilla chips, remaining cilantro, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, and garlic powder.

First, dredge the stuffed chicken in the flour, then dip it in the egg on both sides to coat, then coat with the tortilla chip mixture. (be careful not to lose your stuffing). Place on a plate until all chicken is breaded.

Once all chicken is breaded, add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a 12" non-stick skillet (**preferrably one that can be transferred to the oven). Heat skillet with oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken Cook chicken for approximately 5 minutes on the first side (until golden brown). Remove chicken from skillet and add 2 more tbsp of oil. Turn chicken over and replace in skillet. Place skillet in the oven for 20-25 minutes until chicken is done (juices run clear and no longer pink in the middle).

Serve with your favorite mexican-style rice and beans! and top with your favorite salsa!

**If you do not have an oven transferrable skillet you can cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side then transfer to a baking dish to continue cooking
 My name is Angela (if you couldn't guess). I am a photographer, graphic designer, crafter and Mom; I enjoy all things ART!

As a photographer I love to photograph seniors, children, families, couples, individuals and weddings - really, any face that is brave enough to sit in front of a camera!

As a graphic designer I enjoy designing birth announcements, wedding invitations, programs,wedding albums, etc.

As a crafter I create fun, practical items that are useful everyday. Most of my products I have created because I am a Mom and they make my life easier! I am most excited about my Memor-ME game - my 2 year old LOVES it!

As a Mom, well, that's what makes me the busiest - I have a 2 year old that keeps me on my toes (as most 2 year olds do) but she is the cutest, craziest, funniest, goofiest, most lovable, sweet and rotten little girl on the planet and I don't know what I ever did without her! And of course, without my husband, that particular artistic creation would not exist! I love him for that and for lots and lots of other reasons - we will just leave it at that! :)  I also find some time to spend in the kitchen cooking, baking and creating new recipes. I don't have as much time for this as I used to, but I still enjoy the time I have in the kitchen! Keep your eye out for new recipes and photos!

As an artist, I enjoy the hands-on creativity and visual gratification of the artistic process and also the ENDLESS ways to create it! I am always thinking of new things, they may not all make it to the table, but my mind is a constant brainstorm!

Thank you all for visiting my page and don't forget to tell your friends!