Carl’s Chocolate Pudding Pie Recipe

There is a memorable scene in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 9 where Carl sits on a rooftop and eats a giant can of pudding. So what better addition to our Walking Deadsgiving today than a chocolate pudding pie?


This recipe, like my pecan pie recipe, was adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Giant can of pudding not needed.


The ingredients include sugar, milk (or half and half), corn starch, unsweetened chocolate, butter, vanilla extract and eggs, which I forgot to put in the picture. I always leave something out. And by the way, get everything measured and ready before you start so you won’t be rushing around like I was, separating eggs from their yolks and chopping up chocolate while trying to stir your filling on the stove.


You start off just mixing together the sugar and cornstarch, which lets off lots of cornstarch dust while you’re stirring. Fun.


Now add in the milk and get to cooking. I waited until it was starting to thicken before I added the chocolate. This step takes some patience and a lot of stirring. Be sure to stir though, otherwise it’s going to stick to the bottom and not thicken right. Then once it has thickened, you want to  reduce heat and cook another two minutes.


Next up, the eggs. You want to beat the egg yolks a little, then pour a cup of the filling into the eggs. Mix that up and pour it back into the pot of filling. I don’t know why exactly, but I imagine it has something to do with not wanting to end up with chocolate egg drop soup.


Bring the mixture up to a gentle boil, then like before, turn the heat down and cook another two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.


Pour the filling into your pie crust, which will hopefully be a lot prettier than mine ended up. Let it cool on the counter for about an hour, then put it in the fridge to chill. You want to make this plenty in advance of when you want to eat it because it needs to chill for at least 3 hours.


Next up, whipped cream! Making it is super easy, you just beat together sugar, vanilla and heavy whipping cream until, well, it looks like whipped cream. Technically, that’s until stiff peaks form. Obviously, you could also just buy whipped cream. And by the way, you will have a ton more than this, pictured is actually just what I had left over because I forgot to take a photo of it earlier.


And that’s all there is to it! Once you have the whipped cream on, chill and enjoy!


Carl’s Chocolate Pudding Pie

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

For the pie:

  • 1 pie crust
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Prep your single pie crust by baking it according to recipe/directions.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in milk. Stir in chocolate.
  3. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thick and bubbly, then reduce heat. Cook and stir for two minutes more. Remove from heat.
  4. Separate egg whites from yolks. Slightly beat egg yolks. Stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into yolks. Add egg yolk mixture to filling in saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat.
  5. Cook and stir two minutes more, then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in butter and vanilla.
  7. Pour into pie crust. Set in refrigerator for 3-6 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream (see recipe below) after the pudding has set.

Whipped Cream:

  1. Combine ingredients in large bowl. Beat about 1 minute, or until stiff peaks form.




Easy Pecan Pie Recipe

This is my secret family recipe, or at least I thought it was until Mom told me Sunday it’s from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. So all props go to them, although also to my mom for making pecan pies a Thanksgiving staple when we were growing up.

But the recipe does turn out to be super simple, especially if you cheat and use a store bought pie crust like I did.


First off, the ingredients. You need a pie crust (duh), eggs, sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla extract (I had to use vanilla ‘flavor’… oops), butter (not pictured, another oops) and obviously pecans.



A little word on pecans. When I grew up, we had a pecan tree in our yard, and my grandparents had a bunch of them. To me, pecans were something you just picked up out of the yard and ate as a snack. When I moved out of my house, I was very confused about where I was supposed to get pecans. It turns out you just get them at the grocery store and also, they’re not cheap. At least, not as cheap as they are when there’s a tree dropping them in your yard.

I was lucky enough to have free pecans for this pie that my dad gave me from my grandparents yard. So I had to get to cracking.



Be sure that if you do use pecans that you’re shelling yourself, you get out all of the weird bits from the inside because they’re really bitter. And wash them well because they’ll have shell and inside dust on them.


Now before you do anything else, it’s time to make your pie crust look beautiful.Crimp the edges and make it look nice. I just used a fork and made lines around because that’s what we used to do when I was a kid. At least that’s what I remember.


Now, in a large bowl big enough to later house all your ingredients, lightly beat your eggs. Then add in everything else, which is 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Get all that mixed well, then add in the pecans.


Once you’ve got that stirred up, pour it into the pie crust and you’re almost done already.


Now, to keep your exposed crust from getting ugly, you want to cover it in aluminum foil. This is not the proper way to do this, you’re supposed to make this fancy thing and cut a hole in the middle, but I just threw foil around the sides haphazardly as pictured and it worked fine.

By the way, I’m pretty sure we didn’t do this when I was growing up because I remember our crust edges being a lot darker than mine turned out. So if you’re feeling lazy, don’t worry about it.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes with the foil on, then take the foil off and bake another 25 minutes. That’s it!


Easy Pecan Pie Recipe

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

  • 1 pie crust
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup pecan halves
  1. Crimp the edges of pie crust as desired.
  2. Mix together eggs, sugar, butter or margarine, corn syrup and vanilla.
  3. Add pecans to mixture.
  4. Pour into pie crust.
  5. Cover exposed edges of crust with foil (to prevent over-browning) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 20-25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.





Pumpkin Beer Taste Test


Drinking is a tricky subject for me.  I used to be my go-to coping skill before I was diagnosed.  I drank alone and almost never wanted to go out to an event where there wouldn’t be drinking.  Once I started on medication I became much more careful and cautious about what and how much I drank.  For the past two years or so I just quit drinking all together.  Just not having anything was easier for me than trying to regulate how much I drank.  Now I’m finally to a point where I can just have a drink or two and be fine, which is a nice place to be.

So with fall upon us I decided to do something fun and try some pumpkin beers!  I thought it would be fun to have Nicole participate in this to give a little different perspective.  To give you some context, she doesn’t like pumpkin stuff (gasp!) and only drinks Bud Light.

leinenkugel's harvest patch shandy

Leinenkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy

I really love this one.  I’m not surprised because I really loved their Summer Shandy also.   This beer is very light and sweet with a pumpkin spice taste that isn’t too overbearing.  I could drink more than one of these and not get tired of it.  Also no weird after taste.  Nicole’s opinion: “This tastes like pumpkin pie.  The experienced pumpkin beer drinker might turn down their nose at this.”

new belgium pumpkick

New Belgium “Pumpkick”

This one has a lot of flavors going on in a good way.  It has cranberry and lemongrass along with the standard pumpkin spices, and you can taste that.  There’s a bit of a cranberry after taste.  It’s also a very nice color and the bottle is my favorite by far.  Nicole really liked this one and said, “It’s like a regular beer with a hint of pumpkin.  If I was a bartender I would recommend this.”

mother's mr pumpkin

Mother’s Brewing Company “Mr. Pumpkin”

This is from our local Springfield brewery Mother’s.  I haven’t had many of their beers although they’re all over Springfield all the time.  This beer has a bit of a pumpkin flavor but for me it’s a little overpowered by the dark beer flavor.  It has bit of a pumpkin after taste though.  I do like the pretty caramel color and I love that this is from our local brewery, but it’s not my favorite of the bunch.  Nicole said, “It just has a pfft of pumpkin.  It tastes like a dark beer with a pumpkin after taste.”

shock top pumpkin wheat

Shock Top “Pumpkin Wheat”

This has an odd sharp taste.  The pumpkin is not strong with this one.  Like the last beer, it tastes like wheat beer with a slight pumpkin after taste.  Also not my fave.  Nicole says, “Pumpkin-y.  Wheat-y.  I like it.  This one is my favorite so far.”

schlafly pumpkin ale

Schlafly “Pumpkin Ale”

This was always my friends’ go-to pumpkin beer and now I know why.  It definitely has a great strong pumpkin flavor and is maybe the most potent pumpkin flavor so far.  Nicole says, “It’s very pumpkin.  It’s a pumpkin kick in your mouth.”

woodchuck pumpkin hard cider

Woodchuck “Pumpkin Hard Cider”

This was the wild card of the bunch, with it being a cider instead of a beer.  It has less of a pumpkin flavor than the beers, the apple flavor is much more prominent.  I think this is because it just has pumpkin and no pumpkin spices.  It definitely mellows out the apple flavor though and gives it a less sweet flavor than a traditional hard apple cider.  Nicole says, “This tastes like a caramel apple.”

Well that does it for my beer taste test.  Have you had a pumpkin beer yet or would you try one?  Comment and let me know!

Sugar-Free September: Week One


Afternoon: Couldn’t help myself and had a few sips of the Coke I have in the fridge for the Coca Cola pork chops that are on the menu for tomorrow night.  Still deciding whether or not to make those, since they are so blatantly sugar-filled.  Anyways, I put back the Coke and made chai tea instead.

Evening: Nicole got a soda and I told her I couldn’t have one which was good.  But then I drank a bunch of her soda.  Not good.  And when we got home I went back after that Coke that was in the fridge.  Off to a bad start, but I can do this!


Afternoon: No problems yet!

Evening: The ingredient list on my Chinese called for sugar and I used it.  *sigh*


Afternoon: Had a tiny chocolate bar before I realized what I was doing.  It was delicious!  Oh well.  I will soldier on.

Evening: Craving sweet stuff even though I never do.  I’m not sure if it’s just because I know I can’t have anything or what.  But I was good and ate some grapes instead of ice cream and oreos.


Morning: Have a serious craving for cupcakes.  Can’t stop thinking about baking.  Kind of weird, since I never bake or eat cupcakes.

Afternoon: I have a headache…

Evening: Really wanted donuts so I made sugar-free donuts.  Don’t do this, they were not great.  lol.  I just used a regular recipe for donuts and substituted Stevia for sugar.



Afternoon: Tempted by both soda and tiny chocolate bars but I held strong!

Evening: Had some jelly with my weird sugar free donuts. This is tricky because I think technically jelly is a condiment but I would normally switch to an all natural kind with no added sugar. But I haven’t had the chance to get new jelly yet.


Evening: Had a half a soda but otherwise was good all day.  No headache today either which was great news since we had a project day!


Morning: Had a dream last night about eating lots of deserts, including donuts and icing off a piece of cake. Quit it, brain! 

Evening: We had pancakes for dinner and I had fake syrup. This is another one of those condiment gray areas, but in the past I used honey or real syrup. 

Well I definitely had some ups and downs but I made it through the whole week without what I would call any major slip ups, like eating a whole bag of cookies. Hurray! Anyone have any advice on cutting an item out of your diet? I would love to hear your experiences!

Copycat Dinners: Meal Planning, Week Two

With this week’s meal plan, I really wanted to mimic food from restaurants since we would be going into our second week of not eating out.

Here’s how it went!


At-home Olive Garden: Capellini Pomodoro, Italian Salad and Garlic Bread

  • Recipe from Olive Garden. I just swapped out capellini, a thinner noodle, for regular old spaghetti since that was what we had in the pantry already.  A simple salad and garlic bread and Nicole didn’t even care that there was no meat in this dinner.


Breakfasts for the Week: Copycat Sausage Cheese McGriddles

  • Recipe from Hilah Cooking on Youtube. Totally unhealthy but somehow totally delicious, the McGriddle was a mystery to me until I found this video explaining how to make them at home.  The secret?  Maple crystals.  Cost per sandwich: $0.79

Dinner:  Pizza Night

  • Utilizing the second pizza crust (the kind I get come in packs of two) from last week’s breakfast pizza.  Also, I didn’t have any sauce (I usually cheat and use spaghetti sauce) so I used tomato paste mixed with water to the right consistency with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic.  That’s basically how it was made at the pizza restaurant I worked at for a while.  Cost per slice: $0.50


Cheat Night: Chinese Buffet

  • Nicole had a really rough day at work, so we broke our week and a half streak of eating only at home by going to the chinese buffet.  I am incapable of saying no to any kind of chinese food at any time.


DSC_0717Make Your Own Take Out: General Tso’s Chicken and Beef & Broccoli

  • The trouble we have with making chinese at home is Nicole and I both like different things.  But they’re one-pot meals, so I figured there’s no reason I can’t make what we both like!
  • Sunbird General Tso’s Chicken Seasoning Mix – Not as easy as I’d hoped, very spicy.  Did not taste like take out.  Generally, a disappointment.  Cost: $2.01 per serving, 2 servings.
  • Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Sauce for Broccoli Beef –
    This was really great.  Cost: $3.38 per serving, 2 servings.




Feta Turkey Burgers and Fries

  • Cost per person: $1.48.


Grilled Cheese Rollups and Tomato Soup



N/A – I was out all day so Nicole had to fend for herself.

Well that’s it for this week.  Anyone else have good copycat recipes they like?  I would love to hear about them, mine weren’t as great as I would have liked.

Meal Planning – Week One

This was my first week doing any cooking in a long time.  All in all it went very well.  The one thing I didn’t do was take pictures, I just have a few on my phone.  I didn’t think I would be posting about cooking.  But I have decided to put this here after all for your enjoyment and my memory.


Pork Chops with Potatoes and Onions

  • This is the only way I remember eating pork chops as a kid.  It’s a four-ingredient thing.  Brown pork chops in a pan, then take them out and add thin-sliced onions and potatoes.  Douse all this in soy sauce.  Add the pork chops on top, put some soy sauce on them and cook until pork chops are done.  Easy.

Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Stew

  • Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine.   This was a miss for Nicole, I loved it.  I changed the recipe a little and didn’t add the chicken.


Biscuits and gravy

  • Nicole’s gravy recipe: Cook one pound of country sausage (not the spicy kind if it’s for Nicole, I’ve made that mistake) in pan until well done and browned.  Add 1/4 cup flour and cook about a minute.  Add two cups milk (we use skim and it works fine) and cook until thickened.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Breakfast Pizza

  • Made this with the leftover gravy so Nicole would have quick breakfasts for the rest of the week.  I use store-bought crust and layer on gravy, scrambled eggs (I think I used two) and cheddar cheese.  Bake in oven at temp indicated on crust package until cheese is melted.  Stores okay in the fridge for a few days.


  • Or just bacon, mayo and tomato if you’re Nicole.  I am on the other side of the spectrum and like a lettuce sandwich with a little bacon and tomato.  lol.


Spinach-Feta Chicken w/ Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash

  • This was just chicken tenderloins cooked on the stove, then topped with mozzarella cheese, feta cheese and spinach.  It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made but it wasn’t bad.  I originally was going to do a take-off from this recipe for Stuffed Chicken Pinwheels but the tenderloins weren’t big enough to roll out and stuff.



Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Cut two peppers in half (I used one green and one yellow – the yellow was best) and clean out seeds.  Add about a tablespoon of taco seasoning and 1/2 can black beans to 1/2 pound of ground turkey and mix together.  Form into four meatballs and stuff each pepper half with a meatball.  Food process one can of fire roasted diced tomatoes.  Pour into pan and heat up sauce.  Reduce heat to medium, add stuffed peppers to pan and cover.  Cook until meat is done, about 20-25 minutes.  Top with whatever cheese you’ve got in the last five minutes or so of cooking, if desired.  (Note: the other half can of black beans and 1/2 pound of ground turkey is used in a later meal.)


  • Friday night’s dinner, quesadillas, was pushed to Sunday because Nicole ate dinner at work.


  • Saturday’s meal was also moved to Sunday because Nicole unexpectedly had to work open to close and ate at work again.


At-home Captain D’s: Fish Sticks, Crab Cakes, Slaw and Fries

Ground Turkey and Black Bean Quesadillas

  • These used the leftover meat and black beans from the stuffed peppers.  The meat mix was really the same, just ground turkey, black beans and taco seasoning to taste.  I added chopped chives and cheddar cheese to the quesadillas and topped them with sour cream.