Thursday, September 30, 2010

Special K Bars

Nothing fancy here...
I made Special K bars
I made them without Special K...I didn't have any and I didn't want to spend $5 on a box of cereal...

I am a cheapskate

mix 1 cup sugar with one cup karo syrup (sounds like I will be giving myself some extra insulin tonight)
heat until boiling

after it has reached the boiling point, remove from heat. add 2/3 cup peanut butter and 2 tsp vanilla extract
mix together

pour peanut butter mixture over 6 cups of Special K cereal (or in my case, corn's what I had on hand)

butter a cake pan and press Special K (or cornflake) mixture into pan (I wet my hands first so they don't stick to the for rice krispie treats too)

for the frosting, I melt 2 tbsp butter in a pan and then add a bag of chocolate chips (minus a couple for quality control purposes) and 1/3 cup peanut butter....

stir until smooth
pour over cereal mixture and spread evenly over the top

dig in

Now...I am not sure that the whole cornflake thing will work...and I feel like I want more frosting on the top...I guess I am just not satisfied with anything today.


I forgot I was supposed to make something for a work potluck tomorrow...stupid work potlucks that I forget about.....


off to scour the cabinets or come up with a good excuse

holy cows

well, probably not really holy as those cows only happen in India (well probably other places too...)

but phew

I've been a little stressed out these last couple of....(I was going to say days but it is probably years...not that I exaggerate)

Last night we had pizza...the kind you buy.  I didn't make it.  I didn't even add to it.  I didn't even heat the oven.  I just ate it.

I have been super tired lately and it is about all I can do to make it through Hoarders at night.  Sheesh.  The world seems to be expecting a lot from me.

The night before last (Tuesday night) Cori and I took the baby and headed to Alexandria.  We wanted to get a treadmill.  I got some extra money from school and since he needs to keep running and I need to at least walk, we figured it would be OK.  So, I researched treadmills and what we could afford (at under $200 we were looking at some tennis shoes but not even very good ones) but I wasn't about to give up.  There is a place in Alexandria that is part dollar store, part over stock, part everything.  It is crazy and it gives me a headache.  I mean, you can buy zippo lighters, pencil lead refills, diapers, poptarts and a leather sofa at this place!!!!  And they are all about an aisle apart!!! might not be that confusing but close.

So, Cori and I head off with the baby because I know they have treadmills there and their merchandise, because it is overstocked, is marked at 50% off of retail. 

We go there (did you know that it takes roughly 7 years to travel 55 miles in these parts??? truly!!!) and find the treadmill (along with a giant aluminum pot, for beer, some ink refills, a Christmas present for Finneroo, bug spray wipes, coffee pods, an ice tray and some other ge-dunk) and check out.  Then we had some other errands to run and 5 short hours later we were back at home.

So last night we had pizza. 

I did make a dessert of sorts though

Cookie salad.

So simple and delicious
did I say simple yet???

For this recipe (at least my made up version...I am sure there are real ones out there that might be different but mine is just made up) you will need 4 ingredients:
1 box of instant vanilla pudding
1 largish can of mandarin oranges (not the small little can...the bigger one, or 2 small ones if you want)
1 container of cool whip, no need to make homemade whipped cream...we are going for easy here
1 package of fudge striped cookies

any of these can be the generic brands...I am not generally a brand snob...sometimes it matters but in this case, not so much

pour the box of vanilla pudding mix into a large bowl
add the can of undrained mandarin oranges
stir it up
add the container of whipped cream
stir that up
crush up some cookies (eat some for yourself too)
stir that up


you are done

simple, easy, good

tonight is football so it will be chicken that I did not make and I have been craving special k bars...any good special k recipes out there?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

no energy

Do you ever have those days where you just have no energy???  I think I may be having one of those weeks...

Tomorrow, Cori is smoking turkey breasts on the grill and I already made pumpkin crap dessert....

so much better than it sounds and delightfully easy

1 30oz can of pumpkin pie mix (do the pumpkin pie mix, not the plain can use the plain pumpkin but it turns out crappy and takes like 7 days longer to cook)
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 12oz can of evaporated milk
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup of butter
nuts of your choice

preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 (regular size) cake pan.  mix the pumpkin pie mix, eggs, sugar and milk all together in a bowl.  Pour into prepared pan.  Crumble the yellow cake mix (yup...just the dry cake mix)over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture in the pan, drizzle the one cup melted butter over the top of that and then top with nuts

cook for 60-75 mins

serve with whipped cream and ENJOY


very fallish and super duper easy

the smell makes me feel all warm and toasty in the house!!!

Yesterday, we went to watch Nick throw some poor unsuspecting kids around on the football field...
I don't understand that game but appreciate that, apparently, almost every other human does.  While there, we met a beautiful little girl who is 11 months old.  What a peanut she is. 


like an idiot

I sat comparing my Finn to Peanut #1

Finn is almost 16 months old.  She walks...runs sometimes even :] and definitely climbs...all super
So did Peanut#1
Peanut #1 also had more words and sounds than my beautiful Finn
she was much more coordinated that Roo


my baby was so sweet...wanting to nice touch the baby  and even saying baby in case we didn't see her

she also shared her cheesy puffcorn
snuggled into mommy when it all got to be too much

I wonder if there will ever come a time when I don't worry...probably not.  Every time Nick gets swollen glands I panic that the tumors will come back and every time Dylan says he isn't hungry I flash back to when he was a tiny guy and I had to feed him with an eyedropper to get him to hold food in.

Being a parent is not easy
Being a good parent is even harder

The constant dr visits make me I doing all this to help Finn or am I doing it to try to alleviate some sort of guilt or pressure or worry for myself? 

The questions never seem to end

I am tired

tomorrow will most likely be better
it always is
even when it sometimes isn't, if that makes sense

but for now
I am just tired


I am going to go read a book

Sunday, September 19, 2010

the best cheesecake you will ever have

I am about the share the most amazing, spectacular, super secret cheesecake recipe ever.  I sort of made it up even SO IT IS MINE!!! 


here goes

only share this with the deserving oh is goooooooooooood stuff

get out your spring form pan
it is better with a spring form can make it in a regular pan but it just isn't as nice...I got my spring form pan from goodwill for $1.25.  I know that because even though I have used and washed it countless times...the sticker remains...I don't know if they burned it on or what but the darn thing even went through a dishwasher...still there


so get out your pan and preheat your oven to 325

we are going to start off with the crust...oh yeah...that graham cracker crust...delicious...

I use
1 package of cinnamon graham crackers
1 stick of butter
1/4 brown sugar ( can't escape the beautiful brown sugar)

melt the stick of butter in a sauce pan (I like to brown the butter a bit...just because... but you certainly don't need to...if you aren't going to then just melt in the microwave)

crush the graham crackers (here is a trick.  put the graham crackers in a gallon freezer bag then roll a rolling pin over them until they are little itty bitty crumbs) and add to the melted (browned or otherwise) butter

stir in the brown sugar

pat the crumb mixture into your spring form pan...make sure you pat it up the sides too.  Bake for 10 mins (if you don't have a spring form pan, use a 9in square pan)

2, 8oz packages of cream cheese softened
5 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
5 egg whites, room temperature

beat the cream cheese, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla together well...make sure they are all creamed together.  Mix in the whipping cream

beat the egg whites in a glass bowl with a about 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar...what you are doing here is making a meringue so you want to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Once you have the meringue ready, fold it into the cream cheese mixture

pour over crust.  bake at 325 for about 1 hr and 20 minutes.  turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake int eh warm oven for another hour.  Let it stand for an additional 2 hours before eating.  after standing for an hour in the oven and 2 hours outside the oven, chill until needed.

you can serve with any topping but my favorite is just a mixture of fresh fruit...blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are divine.


I have also been making a pair of pajamas for a friend of mine.  It is like an exercise in futility.  I actually bought a pattern and instead of "adjusting" it like I usually do, I decided to FOLLOW the pattern.  What a joke!!  The directions were actually partly backward!!!  Really!!!  AND I broke a needle...I have never broken a needle.

I am determined.



I will have to adjust it...but it will still be cute...late but cute.  :)  I hope they will forgive me!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No dessert

Last night I did not make dessert.  I bought it but we didn't even eat it.  Maybe tonight.

My mind has been elsewhere, I guess.

The night before last, Finn had a big disco move...she was all Donna Summer.  I called Cori (911 operator extraordinaire) who talked me off the ledge and yesterday and today have been filled with phone calls to drs and all that that entails.

She also has learned to climb and empty shelves and, as I write, my books are being salad tossed on the floor...there goes my alphabatizing scheme (yes...I alphabatize my books by author's last secret librarian coming out)

My poor baby girl
it breaks my mommy heart,
shatters it into slivers
of helpless questions,
hopeless indescision,
when I know her
eyes are not seeing me
my kisses don't make it better
my hugs don't stop
the twisting

what to do
what to do

when her eyes can see me
and her body rests in
my snuggles
and she looks at me
how could her mommy
let that happen,
why did her mommy
not make it stop

then the ache that
I thought was bigger
than me,
bigger than the moon,
I realize
that ache
was nothing
not a drop
not a speck
not a pin
of the ache I feel

it doesn't help  that it has been raining all day...what a blue day...or days I guess

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kuchen in the Kitchen

So my friend Robyn posted about Kuchen when she went to North Dakota.  Then the other day she posted a picture of the last one that she had brought back...she was eating it that night.

I was intrigued...It looked delicious but I had never had one (I had never had any kuchen aside from the pannekuchen that I make in the fall)

The crust of these resembles a pie.bread hybrid
it is yeasty (like bread) but you can't handle it too much, like pie

The custard covering the whole fandango sealed the deal for me....yummmmmmmmmmoriffic

Today I made sour cream raisin pie...I am not a fan of sour cream or raisins but everyone on the planet seems to like it and I found a recipe that included BROWN SUGAR meringue...and we all know my weakness for brown sugar

I scoured the planet (well Internet) for a good, easy sounding kuchen recipe and found one online from a woman named Carol Just. 

Thank you Carol...she says she can do it all in 2 hours...I was not that good but the kuchens were delicious.
Of course, I improvised on some things and next time I might do a few things differently but all in all...mighty tasty


begin by making a sweet roll doll.
I am assuming that your favorite sweet roll dough would do just fine

as I don't have a definitive favorite...I decided to try out the one given
next time, I might try a different dough...this one wasn't quite as bready as I would have liked...

Sweet Roll Dough
4 Cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening (I used lard because I am an old German/Irish woman)
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast (I used the regular old quick active dry know...Fleishmans)
3 room temperature eggs, beaten
1 Cup warm milk (heat in the microwave like you are warming milk for a baby...not that anyone does that in the microwave anymore for goodness sakes...but pretend)

mix flour, salt, sugar and lard like you would for a pie crust (so mix it up until it is sort of won't be really crumbly because relatively speaking, you didn't use that much lard...) make a well in the center (you will add the wet mix to that later)

dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm milk.  I waited until the yeast got foamy before I added all the other jazz...I needed to put in a tsp of sugar to get it going too...the yeast should double in size...I have burned by bad yeast before so I didn't want to waste the other stuff if I had to use a different package

the liquid should get foamy and the yeast should double in size.  Add the eggs and the remaining milk to the yeast mixture.  once the yeast has achieved the desired foaminess, you can add it to the flour mixture.

I mixed this all together with my hands (like I do for pie crust) but you can use a pastry blender or spoon or whatever.  It should make shiny ball...not smooth but ball like.  If the dough is too dry, you can add some more milk but add sparingly.  Let it rise in warm place until double it's size. 

To get a more bread type crust, you can punch the dough down after it has risen and then let it rise again...the more you knead a crust, the chewier and tougher it will be.  This crust was a like English muffin bread maybe...very light and airy...I think perhaps I might try a denser crust (achieved by punching it down and letting it rise again) but this crust was VERY good as is (with no punching down)

I waited until the dough had already risen before making the custard but Ms Just says to go ahead and do it while it rises...maybe she lives in a warmer climate...It took at least an hour (closer to an hour and a half at least) for my bread to double in size...maybe yours will go faster...either way, there is no need to rush to make the custard...the bread won't rise that much in the time it takes to make it

The trick in making custard (I think) is to use fresh eggs and a double boiler.  You don't have to have a double boiler to use the double boiler method...I don't have one...but I don't like putting anything with cream or eggs directly on a heat can too often scorch the ingredients.

First, I find a pasta pan that a saucepan can fit into...I eyeball how high the water should be to sort of surround the sauce pan without overflowing then I add water to the pan and get it boiling.

I add all my ingredients to the sauce pan and then cook it in the pasta pan with the boiling water.  The boiling water will cook the sauce pan ingredients without the possibility of easy scorching...I am sure it can still scorch...I just haven't done it so it must be fairly idiot proof.

OK  Custard
the secret to custard (aside from fresh eggs and a double boiler) is to KEEP want to get it to thicken to the consistency of pudding

6 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp of flour
1 1/2 cup sugar (I did 1 cup and it was plenty sweet)
3 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
cinnamon for later

mix everything together (except for cinnamon) and cook double boiler style until thick and creamy like a custard (I mix it with a hand mixer in the sauce pan and then put it in the double boiler)

so, now your crust should be double the size you started with.  You need to use a sharp knife and cut it into 6 equal pieces.  Rub some Crisco or lard on your hands (so the dough doesn't stick).  Take a hunk and work it into a ball that you then will flatten like a pancake.  Once it gets into a pancake shape, put it in a pie pan and flatten it to the a little of it up the sides if you can but don't worry if you can't.  (by the way, this recipe makes 6 kuchens but the custard only is enough for 5...I made a kolacky with the extra one)

repeat for all pie pans (5 9inch pie pans or 6 8inch pie pans)

then top with the desired fruit of your choice...
I used prunes (bought dried prunes then soaked them in hot water for a couple of minutes then I tore them in half), 2 apricots (they make a canned fruit filling that is great...half a can for each kuchen seemed right) poppy seed (same canned version) and then I left 1 plain

after your fruit is assembled, add two ladles full of the custard over the fruit.  Tilt a little so you cover all the fruit, then top each one with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

bake at 350 for 20 minutes (since I was cooking them all, I did 35 approx.) I checked them every 5 minutes after the 20 min time...basically you want the crusts a delicious brown.  Remove from oven and let rest.  We waited a whole 15 minutes before we cut into one

Apricot Kuchen
I can't make this turn :[ but these are 4 of the kuchens

these kuchens were yummy!!!!

On to today's sour cream raisin pie.

I have never tried to make this before (as sour cream and raisins are two of my not so favorite things and the honey bread wasn't honey-esque so the fact that this was a pie still made me nervous)

I thawed out one of my pie crusts (remember??? they are enough for a double crust pie so I knew I would have enough for pie crust cookies which is sort of what convinced me to go through with it) and got to cooking

preheat oven to 400

roll out your dough as you would normally and cook for 7-10 minutes (you can also buy a premade 9 inch crust and cook according to directions...cheater)

4 1/2 tsps cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 egg yolks beaten
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp lemon juice

Meringue Topping
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

in a medium sauce pan mix together cornstarch, sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Mix in the sour cream until smooth.  Add beaten egg yolks, raisins and lemon juice (I did NOT have lemon you believe it?  I used lime juice instead and maybe a tsp instead of a tablespoon...ugh)

cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens (like pudding)

Pour into prepared crust

in a large bowl (preferably glass or metal but it you are like me, go ahead and use may need some extra cream of tartar...i used about 1/4 tsp extra after I started mixing so 1/2 tsp altogether) mix egg whites with cream of tarter until it is foamy.  Add the brown sugar, 1 tbsp at a time and keep beating until it is glossy and stiff peaks form (this takes FOREVER but it does happen) when stiff peaks form, beat in the vanilla.

top your filling and pie crust with the meringue making sure to seal the edges of the meringue to the pie crust.  You can get all fancy and make swoopy peaks on top of your looks pretty that way

bake in 400 degree oven for about 12 mins. or until the peaks are a nice golden brown

let pie cook and eat...

ours is for dessert tonight...I will let you know if it is good...Finn liked the meringue for sure!!!


she is "helping"

helping make a mess

isn't it pretty...hope it tastes as good as it looks

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Honey cake sounded so good

So, today, in honor of Rosh Hashana, I decided to make honey cake for dessert.  Doesn't that sound lovely?  All honey goodness and deliciousness and cakey. 

I looked on and found a recipe for honey cake.  Looked simple and easy and the description, while not sounding cakey, sounded tasty.  I was thinking a rich version of banana bread.


So I got all the ingredients together while Cori made our main course.  Keep in mind, we are doing Jewish New Year.  As I am mixing, he tells me we are having pork chops on the grill. 


Pork chops?  Jewish New Year???


Oh well

at least our dessert would be kosher (kosher salt even in the recipe...look at me)

the house is filling with that wonderful spicy fall type cidery and pumpkin pie-ish

Finally the honey cake is done
out of the oven and cooling

there are two round cakes and they smell Divine

problem number one
the cakes stuck in the pan...I greased them as suggested but they still stuck...nuts

problem number two
well...they taste like fruit cake
not the kind of fruitcake with all the fruit in it...but imagine that without the fruit

not cake like at all



I am thinking this may be one cake that will not get eaten

I am certain there are people who love honey cake and who are salivating at the very idea. Apparently, I am not one of those people
I am not one of those people that like fruitcake either...not even Alton Brown's fruitcake and I love him

maybe it is the alcohol or even the cloves and allspice
I love the smells
I wish Yankee candle made a honey cake version for me to make my house smell like love with

I wish
I wish honey cake tasted like I imagined...all cakey with an aftertaste of clover honey, sort of heavy and semi sticky with  a crispy top that melted under my tongue....


but I guess this is better for my figure

at any rate

Happy Rosh Hashana!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

last day of summer vacation

Today is the last day of summer vacation.  Well, summer vacation for the kids.  Mine was over a loooooooooooong time ago.  Yesterday I spent a full day in the kitchen.  Today I just took it easy.

We decided to take a trip to the colony (again)on Saturday. This time we decided to go my way. We drove by their giant farm and the GPS guided us to the middle of a road. Cori and I looked at each other and decided to go down the driveway. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE going somewhere where I am not sure if we are welcome. And, this is their home, you know? So we ventured down the loooooooooong driveway, the whole time I was squirming in my seat. This doesn't feel right, lets just turn around. Ugh. We reached the end of the driveway with no produce in sight and I was just about having a panic attack telling Cori to turn around...TURN AROUND...when...low and behold...a tiny produce sign. We pulled in front of a big pole barn and there it was, the legendary Hutteright (spelling?) Colony produce!!!! We went in and it was wonderful...beans and corn and cucumbers, tomatoes the size of Finn's head (and that is saying something) and carrots....yummmmmmmmmmmm. They also had turkey breasts, smoked turkey and canned jams and beans and pickles. We picked up 2 giant turkey breast, one smoked turkey breast, a 27 pound watermelon, at least 2 1/2 pounds of green beans and 13 giant tomatoes. We also bought a jar of strawberry jam (I wanted the raspberry rhubarb but Cori does not like raspberry stuff so...strawberry it was. We also got 13 ears of corn. DELICIOUS!!

We started off the day with cereal for the kids and coffee for me.  Then, on our way to church, Cori "claimed" his blood sugar was dropping (mmmm hmmm) so we had to stop for some doughnuts and some breakfast sausages and bacon (for after church.) 

Church was fantastic.  I love our pastor.  He is wonderful and inspiring and doesn't yell or give us dirty looks when Finn decides to take off in the middle of the sermon and run to the front of the church.  Instead, she gets hugs and smooches and all the people in the church smile and sigh.  It's very nice.

When we got home, I cooked a massive brunch of eggs, toast, sausage and bacon. 

After brunch I cleaned the tomatoes and started homemade pasta sauce brewing...for 3 hours I cooked that sauce, with garlic and onions  and basil.  Can you smell it?  It was wonderful...all that saucey goodness.

imagine the wonderful smell coming up from this pot!!!

I also made browned butter green beans


cream crepes with brown sugar sauce!!!

cream crepes slathered in mandarin oranges and brown sugar sauce

holy heavenly supper...

The crepes had sat for about 36 hours so I had to add a little milk to thin the batter mouth is watering just thinking of them...they turned out great.

I goofed the sauce a bit, but the best think about cooking is, no one knows you goof except you.  I plowed ahead like it was exactly how I was supposed to do it and it was wonderful.

For the sauce I used 4 gallons of tomatoes (on in my land...a whole 12 big ones...who knows if that is 4 gallons, probably not but it worked for me)
I boiled water (a big pot of water) then I cleaned the tomatoes and then cut a little x in the bottom of each one.  When the water was boiling, I stuff the tomatoes I was supposed to boil them for 5-10 seconds but I boiled them for 10 minutes...oops.  Oh well.  I doused them in cold water after (over) boiling them and then the skin came off super easy.  then I cut eat tomato into quarter and squeezed all the seeds out (and most of juice out...oops...but I did have the strainer over a bowl so I caught all the juice...yay me for thinking ahead) After all the tomatoes were done I took a huge pot and put a 1/4cup of olive oil in along with about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (fresh pressed is's about 1/2 tsp per clove but I used the already minced and I love garlic...because I think that translates to like 6 cloves of garlic) and an onion and a half (minced) and then cook that over med heat for about 10-14 minutes...until the onions are clear and the garlic is browned...then you plop in all your tomato cook this slowly over low heat until you can't wait to try it...I cut up 2 jalapenos and added about a tsp of salt too...delicious. You should cook it for about an hour....I cooked it longer so I added all the juice I had squeezed out too...who knows if you would have to do that if you had only boiled them 10 seconds instead of 10 mins??? 

I browned some Italian sausage and hamburger and mixed it in too.  I served it over bow tie pasta. 

The crepes were divine (Nick said heavenly but I wouldn't go that far)

you make up crepe batter as usual (it's a pretty simple batter) and let it sit for at least 24 hours, covered in your fridge.

heat your crepe pan (or if you are like me and don't have a crepe pan, use the smallest frying type pan you have)    lightly grease the pan (I used butter flavored Crisco but you can use whatever) and heat over med/high heat.  take a quarter cup (well...depending on your pan size you might need less or more) enough to cover your pan.  swirl the batter in the pan so it covers the bottom and cook.  when it is browned on the bottom, your crepe is done.  I stack them with waxed paper between each one...

I make enough so that every person has at least 2 crepes.
up close of the oranges and sauce...don't you want to lick it???

for the cream ones I made, you put ice cream on the non browned side of the crepe, right in the middle, and roll it up like a burrito.  I put mandarin oranges over the top of mine (the kids had strawberries and bananas) and then I covered the whole fandango with brown sugar sauce.  Simple to make, divine to eat.

I have included some pictures...
isn't packed brown sugar beautiful...I could pack it and stack it all day....yummmmmmmm

before the brown sugar sauce was sauce

Friday, September 3, 2010 dessert

Tonight I did not make a dessert.  We had left over strawberry cream cheese pound cake.  And tacos...they don't really go together but I had a trying day and not enough flour for anything else...

leftover dessert....

I feel like such a slacker

At least I wrote a little bit though, right, not a totally flop????


crepes tomorrow and smores one of these nights this weekend


Tuesday is school (I also have a meeting and trainings this week)...busy week, busy weekend...but the desserts will get made...have no fear


as of now

I am snuggled into the couch with a blanket on my feet and The Men Who Stare at Goats on TV

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finn likes beaters

So...I couldn't resist
since I put batteries in the camera
I went a little crazy

thought you all might enjoy these

Too bad I didn't get any shots of her afterward...when she was still all covered in sticky stuff and found the cat....yikes!!!!!!

last night's cream cheese dessert and Finn's 1st beater have a little shmoootz right there on your hand

Yummo beaters
I think she may have missed a little bit!!!

Now she knows what to expect!!!

Cream Cheese-a-thon

Last night I made a cream cheese dessert (cue choir of angels)


forgot to make the crepe batter (boooooooooo)


but the cream cheese dessert is delicious (angel chorus)

I had to make it for a work potluck too
we have some left-overs even!!!!

I was hoping to make homemade pasta sauce too
the kind with fresh, ripe tomatoes and basil...
This small desire, of course, resulted in a nothing can be truly as simple as it sounds

Cori and I went on an adventure to get tomatoes last night...the night ended tomato-less and pee-filled.

There are two Hutteright (how do you spell that?  Anyone???) colonies near here that grow, we hear, the best produce around.  So, for the last 3 years, I have been asking to go there.  Yesterday was finally the day.  Of course, I did no prep work and was actually a little unsure of the SPECIFIC location but I knew, generally, how to get there.  Cori was convinced I was incorrect.  I acquiesced and we went to where he originally believed it to be.  Not there.  So, we consulted his ever-present blackberry...ah ha.  It was over here.  I was unconvinced but the BLACKBERRY said so, so...we went there.  Nothing.  There was nothing there but a field. 

After many misses and some angry words, we FINALLY went a way that was similar to what I initially proposed...what do my eyes see???? A sign for, you guessed it....produce.  We followed said sign, to...the middle of nowhere.  Apparently it was closed for the day.

No tomatoes  :(

The pee-filling happened at about this time too.  Poor little Finn came unprepared for the 2 hour journey and after jamming out pretty hardcore to the radio, we heard an "uh oh" from her seat.  Poor little peanut was soaked when we reached Aubrey's school's open house.  It was OK though as Aubrey had been removed from the school roster.  One more thing to straighten out when she finally returns. tomatoes were had.  But there is always tomorrow or even 3 weeks from now when there is a farmer's market here.  The recipe will keep.  And, if I had to take a produce-less producing, pee-filled, 2 hour long road trip adventure down minimum maintenance roads and endless fields of corn, there is no one I would rather take it with than Cori.

When we finally got home, starving, fruitless, and covered in pee, I knew a dessert was in order.  A fast, easy dessert.  Once I could eat NOW.
So...cream cheese dessert it was...delicious and shockingly easy

go to the grocery store and buy two packages of croissants...or, if you can, buy two packages of Pillsbury croissant SHEETS.  (what a cool invention these guys they were made just for this dessert) They are, most likely, right by the croissant but they just aren't perforated like the regular croissants.

while you are there, pick up an 8oz package of cream cheese...

you should have everything else you need at home!!!

preheat your oven to 325
unroll the croissant dough and place it in the bottom of a cake pan (9x11 or whatever the standard cake size pan is) you might have to stretch  the dough so that if reaches all the sides and corners...if it tears a little, don't sweat it...just pinch it back together

in a bowl mix your cream cheese with 1 egg yolk, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla

I like to soften my cream cheese so it doesn't blow up my mixer motor but you can blow it up if you want (I also have the super cool microwave that softens so I am golden)

some people have an egg separator and I am envious of you people
I have to do it the old fashioned way, where you crack the egg and then sift it from one shell to the other until you just have the yolk left

cream your ingredients

spread over the croissant dough in your pan.

open the other container and spread that layer over the layer of cream cheese

you have essentially made a croissant sandwich with a cream cheese/custard center.

I sprinkle the top of the dough with more sugar and a dash of cinnamon and some nutmeg (go easy on the nutmeg...a little goes a long way, I like it because it smells good)

bake in the oven for 30 mins
let cool


Tonight's dessert will be strawberry cream cheese pound cake!!!  yummmmmmmmmmmy 

funny side note...
Last night was Finneroo's first night being allowed to lick the beaters.  She loved it.  She loved it so much in fact that when Nick tried to take back his beater, Finn screamed and clocked him with her fist.  After getting her beater back, she continued to lick until I was worried the metal might come apart.  I removed the beater from her clenched fist amid screams and wails that I am shocked did not bring a bevy (or is it bevvy???)of child protection workers to our door.  When she realized she was not getting her beater back, Finn threw herself down on the floor on her belly and kicked and thrashed her arms.  It was the 1st full-blown temper tantrum I have seen and, it must be confessed, that I laughed so hard I had to sit down next to her on the floor.

Here come those terrible twos!!!!!

Cream Cheese Dessert (think of some clever name so it sounds impressive)

2 packages croissant rolls (or dough sheets)
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

preheat oven to 325

line a cake pan with one package of dough

in a bowl, cream together cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla

spread mixture over dough in cake pan

top mixture with 2nd package of dough

sprinkle sugar and cinnamon or nutmeg (or all three or anything else you think might be good...I used Mayan cocoa infused sugar  and nutmeg last night) over top dough

bake for 25-30 mins (top will be golden brown)

cool and enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I should really get batteries

Last night's supper was delicious. 

We had marinated pork chops...Cori whipped a little something up with some secret ingredients (usually that is something with balsamic, olive oil, cummin and some other seasonings and coke) and then we grilled them.  I whipped up some butter seared (or is it seered) garlic green beans and then a homemade cherry pie with freshly made, lemon-infused, whipped cream.

The green beans were delicious and super easy

about a tablespoon (or more...depends on how much you like butter...I like it, I use a little more) of butter and about 2-3 gloves of freshly pressed garlic (I guess you could smash it too but I kind of like biting into some garlic pieces)

heat over med/low temp in a frying pan...once the butter is all melted I like to throw in some diced onion too (I just like the flavor)

add freshly snapped beans and sautee until the beans start to get a little brownish on the outside.  I usually cover them and let them sit for about 5 mins at this they soften a bit but not too much

I like the crunch still

and the pie

the pie was devine!!!

The whole secret to a good pie is not the filling, you know.  It is the crust.  Making pie crust is an art.  Too much kneading and the crust is tough, not enough and it is flat. 

I love making pie.  It sort of soothes my soul.  I make pie crust in a batch, there is enough for 4 double crusted pies when I am done and I just freeze the extra.  If you let it thaw in the refrigerator, the frozen crust is just as good as freshly made (well end up dusting with a bit more flour so it loses some of the flakey but it isn't really noticable unless you are a freak about it, like me)


last night I made a batch of pie crust and I have to say, it was pretty cathartic.  Who knew that making pies would settle my soul?  I bake when I am at a loss, when I don't know what to do, or when I have to think things out.  Last night's pie baking was a combination of all of the above. 


Soothing to my soul.

My mom taught me how to make pie crusts a million years ago.  If any of you know my mom, you know she is a fantastic cook.  Her pies are something to drive home to eat (and I live 5 hours away so that is saying something)  My favorite time of the year for baking is fall when the apple harvest is in.  The smell of baking apples with cinnamon and nutmeg makes me feel safe and makes me feel love.  (I wonder if that has anything to do with the size of my waistline...equating love with the smell of food...hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

Anyway...Mom schooled me in the art that is pie crust pastry making.  My mom is an artist too, you know.  Not just of pie crusts either.  She is amazing.  Sometimes watching her cook is like watching her paint, all the ingredients swirling together, her knife flying fast and sure, the sizzling butter, the flour dust in the is like a painting and a symphony all rolled into one.  It is home.

So...pie crust... (I AM getting there)

To all my Jewish friends, I apologize for this aspect but maybe there is some way that you can make lard be kosher.  If not, I guess you are just out of luck.  Some people make their pie crusts with shortening or butter...I have tried both ways and I am sorry but lard is the way to go.  The taste, flakiness, browning, EVERYTHING is just better...loads better...with lard. (that sounds like a commercial jingle...maybe I am missing my real calling...commercial jingles!!!)

You can find lard in any grocery store...I usually find it by the cold pickles or sometimes, the lunchmeat.  If you can't find it, ask the meat counter guy or girl.  They will know where it is.

The brand doesn't matter (who even knew there were different brands of lard?) but you need the 1 pound brick of it.

let the lard sit out for awhile so it gets to room temperature.  If you are lucky, like me, you have an awesome microwave that has a softening button.  If you have the softening button, you can put the brick of lard in the microwave and hit soften and then whatever button on your microwave that means "butter" and put it in for the same time as you 4 sticks of butter to SOFTEN...not melted lard...that wouldn't work and it would be a mess.

in a big bowl (stressing BIG here) you need to add 5 cups of flour.
I use all-purpose because really, who has all the other kinds of flour?  also, all-purpose works the best (I did have bread flour one time and used that, thinking I would be all Rachel Rayish and the crust was not flakey)

so add your 5 cups of flour to your BIG bowl
next add 2 tsps of salt
then pack and add 3 tablespoons of BROWN sugar.  Sometimes I have used the dark brown sugar and it makes the crust look more exotic...not that much moreso, so don't run out and buy it..just regular brown sugar is perfect.

side note:  who does not love packing brown sugar?  there is something so lovely in  perfectly packed brown sugar...smooshing it in and then plopping it out, still holding the shape.  I think building  a sandcastle out of brown sugar would be also is delicious in vanilla malt-o-meal

then add 1 tsp of baking powder (not baking soda)

stir these ingredients together

into the flour bowl, cut your brick of lard (cut little pieces off with a butter knife and add them to your flour...I cut the lard into about 5 hunks and then each hunk into two seems a bit more managable this way but you can cut your hunks whatever size you want to...except don't skip this part and leave the lard in a big 1 lb will regret it)

it will be a bit smoooooooshy but not too bad, cut off hunks into the bowl

using a pastry cutter (that half moon shaped thingy that looks sort of fannish...) cut in the lard.  if you don't have a pastry cutter (and really...unless you make pie crusts very often, who does?) you can use a fork.  I would recommend buying a pastry cutter if you plan on making pie crusts is easier and makes things go quicker...although the fork method can really work your arm muscles.

when you cut in lard, it means you sort of mix it in.  you smoosh the lard and flour together and the pastry cutter (or fork) keeps things blending.  You DO NOT want to use a mixer or a a fancy food processor and I will tell you why.  First off, less cathartic, but, more importantly, the food processor and/or mixer, doesn't love your crust the way you should.  It goes in there with blades flying and no sense of touch...just plows through.  You don't want that, you want to be able to tell, by touch, exactly when the crust is done being mixed. do you plan on working out your arm muscles?

once the flour and lard mixture is blended together and is crumbly but will stick together if you pinch it between your fingers (try it) then you are ready for the next step.

take a liquid measuring cut and break an egg into it (I am lucky because we have farm fresh eggs but any egg will do...except for the salminella outbreak eggs...don't use those) scramble the egg in the measuring cup.  To that add 2 tablespoons of vinegar...mix the egg and vinegar together.  Then fill the measuring cup so that it has one cup of egg, vinegar and cold water all mixed together (does that make sense?  your vinegar, egg and the cold water you add makes it ALL TOGETHER be 1 cup's worth)

slowly (or quickly...doesn't really just sounds more recipe-ish to say slowly) add the egg mixture to your flour/lard mixture

now is where it gets fun

take off your rings
pull your hair back from your face and get ready

you are going to knead, baby, knead.

I like to do the first couple mixes of the egg mixture and the flour mixture with a fork...just to sort of get it started

but then you dig in with your hands

you squish the wet mixture in with the dry mixture and you use a similar motion as if you  were making knead the wet mixture in.  In essence, you fold over the dry mixture then squish it down, then fold it over then squish it down.

when you make bread, in this kneading phase, you sort of pull the pull the bread dough while folding it, you do the same motions here.  the difference is who is the boss...with bread dough, you really show that dough that you are the boss, you muscle it around and you man-handle it but good, you do that to build up the air pockets so the bread is airy and light but the crust is still chewy

same principle but here, you aren't the boss, you are partners

you want to knead the dough and fold it and build air pockets but you have to be much more gentle...the dough is more fragile (like the emotions of a teenage girl...if you have ever dealt with any, you know what I mean...too much and they cry and their life is ruined, not enough and you don't love them or understand them)

you want to knead it together and get it all mixed up and then STOP
if you over knead, your crust will be tough and chewy (like bread...good for bread, bad for pie)

you will know when it has been kneaded enough because it will be all mixed together but your arms won't be tired out :)  all the flour and egg will be mixed together and will hold together

then, roll the dough in a big ball (it should be the size of a baby's head, well the babies in my family anyway) then divide it into 4 sections.  Each of these sections is enough for a double crusted pie.

I take the sandwich-sized freezer bags and freeze 3 sections...add the section in the bag and then before you close the bag, smoosh it flat...freezes better that way and takes up less room and helps you squash all the air out of the bag...mark them and toss them in the freezer...they are good for awhile but I have never kept them in there longer than 3 months...I know they are good that long, probably longer...the next time you want to make a pie, just thaw them out and voila...(just a will need to flour your rolling surface more for the thawed out crust than you will for your first crust...not a big deal, but just so you know)

Now you have the section of freshly made pie crust, just waiting for the rolling.  Cut the section in half, one will be for the top crust and one will be for the bottom. (disclaimer...if you are making a pie with lots of filling, like my apple pies, you might not want to cut it perfectly in half...cut one side a bit bigger, that will be your top crust.)

generously flour your rolling surface

put your little section onto the floured surface and press down...I flatten by hand until it is at least the size of two hands, I find it to be a bit more managable doing it this way.  Flatten a bit, then flip the crust over so the other side gets flour, and continue flipping and flattening.  If you don't flip the crust while flattening it, it will stick to the surface and you will mangle your crust...not a big deal...still tastes good but lots messier and it doesn't look as pretty.

Once it is the size of about both of your hands, you take a rolling pin and finish the job.  (Have a light hand with you flattening and rolling, you don't want to eliminate all the wonderful air pockets...but don't be afraid to flop it around either...after all, you are going to put it in your belly in about 2 hours!!!)

You want to roll it out (eyeball it up) so it is bigger than your pie pan...but not crazy big or it will be too thin...just a little bigger than the top of your pie pan (You need the extra to go up the sides and to help make the outer crust) shoot for the size of a tostinos party pizza...smaller than a tombstone pizza but bigger than your pie pan.

once your crust is rolled out (don't worry if it isn't a perfect one makes perfect circles..well maybe Martha Stewart but none of us are billionaires so who cares) fold it in half CAREFULLY, then fold it in half again...looks like you have your own piece of pie crust pie.  This makes it much easier to put in your pie pan...I didn't do this the first time I made pie on my own and what a mess...I was a wreck, there was pie crust everywhere, it didn't fit this will save lots of frustration


now you are ready to put the crust in your pan...line it up, put it in and unfold it


crust in the pan!!!

now you tap it down in the pan (don't push or slam it...remember, teenage girl) and fill in any spots with holes or that are thin (you CAN do that, you know...use the extra that is hanging over in spots and tear it off and push it in...if it isn't sticking together, just dip your finger in water and wet a bit...the flour from the sides with "glue" it together)  now is also the time when you sort of dust off the extra flour you can see on the crust. 

Now that all that work is done, add the flavoring of your choice...last night we had cherry...I just used a jar of cherry pie I didn't pit the cherries myself after picking them off of the cherry trees in some orchard somewhere...I just bought a jar of cherry pie and easy and no chance of me forgetting a pit somewhere.  Apple pie is different...I use fresh apples for that but cherry pie is just as tasty from the jar filling...I don't use canned filling as it sometimes takes on the metal taste.  If you are up for making your own cherry filling, be my guest.  I was lazy

Top crust is the same procedure as the bottom crust...except, after the filling is in, wet your finger and rub it along the outter edge of the will seal the top crust to the bottom crust this way...after folding it in 4ths, you lay it over the filling and unfold (you have to be a bit more careful here as it is harder to redo the manuevering when it has filling all over it)

I like the crust so I don't mind if the ends are a little thicker crust, so I often fold the edges up...when I was younger though, my mom sliced off the extra crust...she would hold the pie up in the air with her left hand and then take a knife with her right and cut off the extra and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar...pie crust cookies.  If you have a lot extra, I would suggest this...if you just have a few little extra shmenkins, don't bother.

I dip a  fork in flour and use it to press the top and bottom crust makes a pretty little design.  You also have to cut air holes in the top...I make a bird track pattern because I think it is cute but just holes slit in will work as well.

sprinkle the top of the crust with suagr (maybe a tablespoon or so) and bake

If you know you are making pie ahead of time and you happen to be a fancy coffee shop where they have sugar in the can take some extra packets because that sugar makes it very pretty...but if you aren't or, if you are like me and the nearest coffee shop is an hour away, regular sugar is just peachy.

Now, when I make apple pie, before I add the top crust, I plop about a tablespoon or a tablespoon and a half of butter onto my apples, it helps the apples soften and gives them an extra juiciness when they bake.

You can decorate the top crust with any little schmenkins of crust you have leftover...I have made hearts or apple shapes...whatever floats your boat.

If you are feeling very shmeepy and June Cleaverish, you can cut shapes out of your top crust before laying it on the pie as well...they actually make pie patterns (I have one with hearts all over it) that you place on the crust like a  giant cookie cutter and cut out.  Then you don't have to cut the steam hole birdy tracks either...

I think these work fine on things like blueberry pies or cherry pies, the kind with all the sauce (I don't know the "cooking" term for that...but you know what I mean...all the jelly saucy stuff) I wouldn't do it with apple pie isn't as saucey and so the apple pieces that show through in those spots have a tendency to over cook and then your pie isn't as juicy...but that is just me.

If you are making a pie with only one crust like rhubarb custard (my FAVORITE) then you are lucky...make sure when you are dividing your section in half (for the two crusts) you don't divide in want the bottom crust to be much more generous in the crust department, this is so you can build up the edge crusts to form a sort of protective moat for your delicious filling.  Then the extra pie crust can be rolled out, covered in cinnamon and sugar, baked at 375 for around 5 mins...melt in you rmouth goodness.

Tonight I will be making cream cheese croissants...which aren't really crossiants because I am not good like my mom so instead of the marble rolling pin and cutting board that has to be kept cold and the mounds of buttery goodness...I just use pilsbury croissants...

I have to make a pan for the potlcuk tomorrow so I will make a pan for home too

I was going to take pictures of our delicious mean
(hende the title)
maybe I will pick some up when I get ingredients today

also making crepe batter tonight so it can rest for 24 hours....yummmmmmmm crepes...
I am thinking mandarin orange crepes with a brown sugar carmel type sauce

anotherr little side note...
if at all possible, make your own whipped cream...super easy and well worth take a little carton of whipping cream (2 cups worth) and pour it into a chilled bowl (if your bowl isn't big will just take a couple extra minutes of whipping)...add 4 tbsps sugar and a tsp of vanilla. (I use more but that is just me)  whip it together with your mixture until peaks form (it gets stiff and when you lift the beaters out the whipped cream holds it shape)  I make mine infused with other flavors...last night I used a citrus flavor to help counteract the sweetness of the cherries...just grate up about a tsp or two (depends on your tart level) of lemon zest...or you can use the flavor infused sugar instead of regular sugar...  don't whip it too long or it will tast a little buttery and not in a good way...think churning cream into butter.  You can always taste it too and add whatever you want to the mix...I have used cinnamon, cocoa, extra vanilla, almond extract...the sky is the limit...or, rather your tastebuds!!!


so I wrote today...look at me, on a roll...practice makes perfect, right?

pie crust recipe..written out cookbook style

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 lb lard (room temperature)

1 egg
2 tbsp vinegar
add cold water to make one cup

measure flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar into a big bowl.  stir to mix ingredients

cut lard into pieces and add to mixture.  using a pastry cutter, cut in lard until the mixture is crumbly and can be pinched together

break egg into a measuring cup.  beat well with fork.  add vinegar and mix.  add cold water to make one cup.  slowly pour over flour mixture, stirring with a fork to distribute.  using your hands, work mixture until it will hold together .  divide into 4 equal parts.  each part is sufficient for a double crusted pie.  wrap in plastic and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or store in the freezer.